Happy Father’s Day

The following message was used at St. Paul’s in Eureka on June 15, 2014: Father’s Day. The scripture was Matthew 28:16-20 and Psalm 8. The title was God and Father’s Day.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope that the information I have used from the article found on-line is sufficiently referenced. It was taken from the Christian Science Monitor prior to Father’s Day in 2010.

I have a saying that I like to use in school when students complain about something being NOT FAIR. I tell them that a fare is where you take your fat pigs to win purple ribbons. Now if I wanted to use a more polite tone, I might say it is where you take your homemade jelly or your prized Holstein or a cutely crafted item, but I prefer the impact of saying fat pig. It gets their attention a little better, and by the time they sit and ponder what I have just said, we get to move on in the lesson. Today, though, in the effort of fairness, I think it is ok that we talk about Father’s Day. It is only fair after all, since we took time on another Sunday to discuss Mother’s Day and God as a nurturing God much like our Mothers our nurturing, so we will take time today to discuss Father’s Day.

Some people who are really concerned about inclusionary language, political correctness and fairness might argue that if you look around at the words of the hymns and way the Bible stories are written, every church day is Father’s Day. It is true most of what we read or study or say in church is written in the male gender. We also know that most of that is a historically cultural fact, not necessarily a plan to keep women in a subservient position. And of all places, we know that this church, especially our wider church is more than aware of the influence of the male dominated language and we go out of our way to balance the scales.

Perhaps that is why we can go to a conference meeting and almost celebrate when a young man is at the pulpit because it is almost the exception instead of the dictated norm, but that is not our context today. I will put in a plug for next week, though, if you want the “rest of the story” tune in next Sunday at this same time when we will be celebrating the 57th year of the United Church of Christ, and we will be talking about some of that as well as information from the Annual Meeting.

Today though, I want to focus on the importance of Fathers, and the many strong and compassionate men in our lives. According to some research I did this week, [Thank you to Associated Press writer, Nicholas K. Geranios] Father’s Day started over 100 years ago on June 19, 2010 because a woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd felt it was unfair to celebrate mothers while ignoring fathers. Apparently Dodd was in church in 1908 when her pastor was preaching about the importance of mothers on the occasion of the newly formed Mother’s Day. Though she said she liked the sermon, she was upset that Fathers were not also revered.

Perhaps Dodd’s main reason for wanting to celebrate Father’s was because her father, who was a Civil War veteran became a single father when his wife, Dodd’s mother died in child birth in 1898 (sixth child). As the oldest child in the family, Dodd helped her father keep the family together, and after she had children of her own, she realized what a feat he had performed raising them all by himself.

Dodd pushed for a Father’s Day and the first actual celebration was held in Spokane in June of 1910. Fathers in church were given red roses and people whose fathers were deceased wore white roses. Others also pushed for this holiday, but Dodd is the one who worked to make it a nationally recognized celebration. President Wilson spoke at a Father’s Day event and wanted it to become a special day, but wasn’t able to make it happen. President Coolidge also wanted to make it a National Holiday, but it wasn’t until 1966 when President Johnson issued a proclamation for the date, and then finally in 1972, President Nixon signed a bill from Congress proclaiming the third Sunday of June as the permanent official Father’s Day.

A few Census figures regarding men and families include: At one point, it was figured that about 15 percent of single parents are men. In addition, there were 158,000 stay-at-home dads in 2009, who raised the kids while their wives worked, and 71 percent of 6-year-olds ate breakfast and dinner with their fathers every day as recently as 2006.

Being a father is more than just passing on genetic material to create a child. As many of you know, being a father is more than earning an income to provide for the family in a financial way. In fact, that is probably one of the greatest favors that the Women’s Liberation Movement has done for men in that when women accepted more of the financial responsibility for the family, men were freed to carry out more of the nurturing duties.

But if being a father is not just about the genetics or the money, what is it about? Perhaps if we stopped to take a pause and all wrote down 10 things that make a good father, we would come up with all sorts of things like those that members of my family brainstormed for me yesterday: head of the household, someone who is there for you, a fixer, a leader, caring and compassionate, helper, knows things and someone who just listens to you. .

When I was thinking of qualities of a good father, I couldn’t help but think of James’ father. Now James might have some different memories. He always talks about the Father who was standing at the bottom of the stairs yelling that it was time to get out of bed to come to the barn to milk. He also remembers the tough farmer, who wanted the bales hauled today before the rain hits, and there was no time for rest.

I didn’t know him until it was almost time for him to retire, and then I saw the man, who wouldn’t let his wife drive to or from Ladies Aid because what if the car broke down or there was a flat. Some might have seen that as domineering or controlling, but at some point I realized it was his caring side. Just a little side note here, for her point, Mary Ann always poured his coffee, added the sugar and a spoon and set it on the table for him. I finally realized that they did those things for each other because of a deep and nurturing love, not because of any laws of dominance or subservience. And I will tell you that try as we might, James and I have never been able to duplicate that attitude towards each other because James has never learned to drink coffee, and that has just blown it all.

But as much as I noticed their caring for each other so many years ago, later when she was gone I also saw how he was with his children, always wanting what was best for them, and always working things out in his mind as to how he could help them or give them advise on things from the farm work to a job or financial decision. He was always thinking about what would make things turn out for the best for his family. Don’t we all want that, what is best for our children? So, how much more is that true of what God wants for us?

Today as a church we celebrate what is called, Trinity Sunday. The scripture in Matthew mentions what is considered the three parts of God: God the Father; God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. The trinity of God is not something we talk about very much in our church. In fact, if you were to check out the UCC website for today’s lesson, you would find that they have based the suggestions for today’s message entirely on the Old Testament scripture, which I chose to skip for today. It is found in Genesis and is about the creation of the world. The lesson of the New Testament is in truth not so far off the beginning of the world. It is the beginning of the world of Christianity. Today’s lesson is about Jesus commissioning the disciples to go out into the world to make disciples of all men, of all people. He sends them to call all people to a belief in God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit that is given to everyone–even to all of us too.

Here we see Jesus as the supreme authority figure; he is much like the definition of Father as the “Head of the Household.” Jesus is taking charge and telling the disciples what they must do; he gives them their task, just as he gives us our task in life. Whatever it is we do as an occupation, whatever we are to our family, mother-father-sister-brother-aunt-uncle-cousin-grandparent, we are all given the task of taking care of and nurturing each other as we further the gospel, the Good News of Jesus and God’s kingdom. We aren’t sent as a way to promote a specific agenda. We aren’t sent as a control issue. God wants us to proclaim this good news because becoming part of His kingdom is what is best for us. So as we leave here today and probably go to spend some time with family let’s remember that everything we do, every action we take, everything we do to or for someone else is done in the name of promoting the Kingdom of God whether we realize it consciously or we just do it. So let’s go in an attitude of working towards what God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit know and want as best for us and all the world, to share God’s love with each other. Amen!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy
    Jun 17, 2014 @ 12:52:03

    I am still laughing about the place where you take fat pigs to win ribbons. There’s some laughs in this one. It is a really good sermon.

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  2. Glenda zimmermam
    Jun 17, 2014 @ 10:10:32

    OK, LuCinda, even if James did drink coffee, I don’t think you would do what his mom did. We all know you love him very much, but, there are some things I KNOW you would not do UNLESS, they couldn’t do it for themselves that is! Great sermon!

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