Father’s Day is a very important day on our social calendar, more important, I believe, than Mother’s Day for the simple reason that the role of Fathers in the lives of children is under attack by some feminists and women in lesbian relationships. They see only a minor role for Fathers and in fact are even attacking the celebration of the day by attempting to rename it as Special Person’s Day.
And there will be tens of thousands of children who will struggle on Father’s Day because, for one reason or another. they do not have a father at home. It is estimated that there are one and a half million children in Australia living in a home without a father present. This is as a result of death, separation or divorce and same-sex relationships. Of these almost one million live with their mothers. In some homes, Dad will be welcomed. But in others he will be resented.
Some would see this is of little consequence but let me relate what one boy who at an early age lost his father by death has said.
“I didn’t know how to hold a cricket bat, kick a football, pitch a tent, light a barbecue or fly a kite. No one came with me to Saturday morning football or cricket matches. No one taught me to be competitive either in the class room or on the sports field.”
As we will see later, the role of a father involves more than these fairly superficial skills. And we must also be careful not to overemphasise celebration of the day because the role of a father should be celebrated and practised, not just on one day of the year but on every day. One Father has stated that he wants his children to know how important any day that they share together is to him, not just the first Sunday in September.
So how did Father’s Day get started? In Catholic Europe it was celebrated from at least the Middle Ages on 19 March, which is St Joseph’s Day on their calendar. This Joseph of course being the earthly father of Jesus.
But elsewhere there was no celebration. It wasn’t until 1908 that a daughter advocated a Father’s Day in remembrance of her father who was killed along with 360 other men, 250 of whom were fathers, in a mining accident.
Then in 1930 there was another attempt to promote such a day, again in America. You could guess it, couldn’t you, the person behind this move had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present for father. By 1938, this person had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the holiday’s commercial promotion.
Americans resisted the holiday for its first few decades, viewing it as nothing more than an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. However, the merchants remained resilient and even incorporated these attacks into their advertisements. By the mid-1980s, the Father’s Day Council wrote, “[Father’s Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honouring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. So you see, that apart from Europe the celebration of Father’s Day is of very recent origin.
So while today the role of a father has become somewhat confused and blurred, a deliberate action by some anti-father advocates, let us see if we can define the essentials of the role a father plays and then let us compare this with the role our heavenly Father plays in the life of His children.
This is what billy Graham said – “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
I suppose first and foremost fathers, at least, in the past, have been seen as breadwinners, as the material providers of the everyday needs of the family. Of course with 2 income families in our modern age and the advent of the working mother this is not as clear as it once was but it is essentially true, nonetheless.
Some fathers will go to extreme lengths to meet the family needs. I recall how hard my own father worked. He had a full time job but after work and at weekends there were extra tasks to be completed such as odd jobs and especially lawn mowing in order to make ends meet for a family with 4 children. He had special skills which included balancing a Victa motor mower on the handlebars of his bicycle, a rake and other tools slung off the bike or his body and probably a scythe slung over his back as well. He obviously taught me these skills too because as a teenager I would help him and then later branched out into working for my own clients.
St Joseph was celebrated as the nourisher of our Lord. And he could be regarded as an example of how God provides for His children today.
In the Lord’s Prayer we are told to pray to our Father in heaven that He give us on this day our daily bread. And I believe He honours our prayer.
He provided for the children of Israel as they moved through the desert. In the Psalms this question is asked.
20. Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
And we know what the answer is.
We as earthly fathers are responsible for being providers.
8. But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
And we can be assured that God, our heavenly father will be a responsible provider as well.
11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
29. “But I told you, ‘Don’t be afraid of those people.
30. The LORD your God will lead you, and he will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt
31. and in the desert. You saw how he brought you safely all the way to this place, just as a father would carry his son.’
A father is a protector, one who saves us from danger.
Someone has said, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”
I remember the first time I rode a bike out on the street. It was one of those bikes where in order to apply the brakes you had to press backwards on the pedals. Of course dad was there right beside me so that I wouldn’t come to any harm. But our route took us down a Kent Street hill with Neptune Street at the bottom. As the bike accelerated I panicked and forgot how to operate the brakes. I don’t remember coming to any harm so dad either gave me fresh instructions as to how to operate the brakes or took hold of the bike somehow and brought it to a stop.
Dads will do whatever it takes to make or keep their children safe and so it is with our Heavenly Father.
God, being ever present could see that we were in desperate need because of our sin nature and our practice of sin. We were found to be guilty of wrongdoing with the penalty being spiritual death, that is, being permanently separated from the presence of God and the good things He provides.
What could He do? It was a grave situation and it needed a very costly intervention, one, I would suppose, that God would certainly not have wanted to provide, if there was some other way. But it was the only way to save His earthly children from danger. And so He implemented His great plan of salvation which cost the great suffering and the ultimate death of His son in order to rescue us from our dreadful situation.
I wonder if all of us present here this morning have appreciated what He did through Christ and if we have thanked Him for it. More importantly have we accepted the help He has provided to remove our guilt, and thus escape the dreadful punishment it brings?
3. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
Fathers are also instructors or teachers who pass on their knowledge and experience to us. I learnt many a skill on how to deal with cantankerous carburettors in Victa lawn mowers, and more abstract things like finishing a job well so that clients were satisfied. Dad taught us involvement in hard work in order to acquire much needed pocket money. There was cow manure to be collected from open paddocks, gardening to be done and different odd jobs to be completed for relatives, in particular my grandmother. From that we learnt about the value of money and the value of saving.
There were other skills to be learnt such as knowing in what paddocks down at the Island Plantation one could find an abundance of mushrooms after extended periods of rain.
Holiday time was a time for learning about fishing, skills which have remained with me until today.
But above all this Dad taught me about obedience and trust not only in my relationships with other human beings but toward God as well. He taught me about integrity, concern for others, keeping promises, love and respect for fellow family members and others as well. The list could go on and on.
I think I can honestly say that my Dad fulfilled the requirement of Deuteronomy.
7.Teach them (God’s laws or commands) to your children. Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working.
In the same way God wants to teach us as well. He has provided His word the Bible as a great source of instruction and wisdom. The skills required for living and sharing the Christian life can be found in its pages. He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to be our guide as well.
26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
God said this to Moses –
12. And now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.
And then in v 15.
15. And you shall speak to him, and you shall put words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do.
8. You said to me, “I will point out the road that you should follow. I will be your teacher and watch over you.
34. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
The disciples came and asked Jesus to teach them how to pray and of course we know He did.
1. And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
And rest assured if we ask our Heavenly Father to teach us He will.
6. For Jehovah gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
We need to remind ourselves that those who served God in the construction of the Tabernacle were given wisdom from God, and that God gives us gifts so that fellow-believers and indeed the whole body of Christ can benefit and grow. God gives us every blessing required to live for Him and to serve Him. All we have to do is ask and it will be ours.
5. But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.
And we could pray no better pray than this.
10. You are my God; teach me to do your will. Be good to me, and guide me on a safe path.
Sometimes, though, teaching may seem for the moment unpleasant. I remember when my brother was also learning to ride a bicycle and while he could ride quite well he never seemed to master the skill of dismounting. Late one afternoon Dad got him going on the bike and gave him instructions to stop and dismount. All he would say is “I, can’t”. Dad decided to leave him riding around the house until he made an attempt to get off. I remember the longer that time went on the louder he shouted, “I can’t get off!” Eventually Dad went inside with Ellis still riding round and round the house and almost on dark, guess what, he finally got off the bike, in an appropriate fashion I presume because I don’t remember him being injured in any way. Nor do I remember it being a problem from then on.
Sometimes God may have to use what might seem to be difficult circumstances to teach us lessons essential for our spiritual nourishment and growth as well. Let us try to see what He wants us to learn from those circumstances.
Besides teaching, good fathers share and show interest in their children’s welfare.
When we used to go fishing we often used a 16ft dinghy belonging to my great-aunt Gertie. The way it moved through the water made it a truly wonderful craft. It had 2 sets of rollicks. Dad’s friend would man the front set of rollicks and he and I would share the stern set.
I would row sitting and he would row standing. This must have required a deal of coordination as when rowing standing up, the oars would come forward at a greater height than when one was sitting. I never remember this being a problem and even though it might be considered a rather strenuous exercise I never felt it to be. I just enjoyed sharing a task with my Dad. Even though we would often row up to 20 km in a day I never ever felt it to be a chore because I was sharing the experience with my Dad and I’m sure he enjoyed sharing the task with me as well.
Do we really know that God wants to share, to have fellowship with us, and desires us to have fellowship with Him as well? How well do we know our Heavenly Father? What tasks do we enjoy sharing with Him? Is there just the joy of being close to Him, of being with Him, of being in His presence when we can share personal intimate things together, when we can just enjoy each other’s company?
3. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
11. Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
This is a vital role for a parent, if a child is to grow into a socially responsible and participating individual in a society. Discipline is something positive rather than negative, though to the child it may seem that way for a time.
11. When we are punished, it seems to us at the time something to make us sad, not glad. Later, however, those who have been disciplined by such punishment reap the peaceful reward of a righteous life.
15. Correction and discipline are good for children. If they have their own way, they will make their mothers ashamed of them.
18. Discipline your children while they are young enough to learn. If you don’t, you are helping them destroy themselves.
But parents need to remember that discipline ought to be done within acceptable boundaries.
4. Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction.
And as we discipline our children to produce positive change, in a similar way God disciplines us as well.
9. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
17. Behold, blessed is the man whom God corrects. Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.
11. My son, do not despise the chastening of Jehovah; nor be weary with His correction;
12. for whom Jehovah loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
And as with our fathers God will impose that discipline within the bounds of love and justice.
24. O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.
Parents, whether they like it or not are examples to their children. Many a thing I learnt from my father from observing his behaviour, his reaction to adversity, his integrity, his passion for doing what was right.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Train up a child in the way he should go—but be sure you go that way yourself”
Someone else said, “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
We may recall the poem, “Walk a little plainer Dad” where it says, “Walk a little plainer Dad for you are leading me.”
Perhaps the most valuable lessons for our kids come from what we do rather than what we say.
And with God the same principle applies. Listen to what these Bible verses have to say.
48. Therefore be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.
36. Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
32. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.
16. because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
And of course, God the Son needs to be followed as well.
21. For you were not called to this? For Christ also suffered on our behalf, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps,
Whenever a child was in strife at school and there was a need to involve the parents inevitably it was the father who came to discuss the matter.
But there is a need for caution. Being an advocate for our children is good but while they are our children and we love them we need to acknowledge reality and come to the correct conclusion that sometimes our children are in the wrong. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I have been told that my child didn’t do it. He says he didn’t and I believe him. He wouldn’t tell me a lie. Or alternatively I know when he is lying and he is not lying now, such statements being made in the light of overwhelming evidence and witnesses proving the contrary.
Does God advocate on our behalf? He certainly does. We have an enemy and he is called the accuser of the brethren.
10. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
One day God came to this accuser and asked this question.
8. “Did you notice my servant Job?” the LORD asked. “There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil.”
Listener and Comforter
There are other roles we could add like listener and comforter
THANK YOU, DAD
Thank you for the laughter,
For the good times that we share,
Thanks for always listening,
For trying to be fair.
Thank you for your comfort,
When things are going bad,
Thank you for the shoulder,
To cry on when I’m sad.
This poem’s a reminder that
All my life through,
I’ll be thanking heaven
For a special dad like you.
God our Heavenly Father listens to us as we bring our prayers and petitions, our thanks and worship to him.
6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Just as we need to support and encourage our children in their plans and ambitions, in their successes and achievements, so we can expect support from God to live the Christian life.
5. l will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. l will not, I will not, l will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!
And we can anticipate a future verbal reward when God says the following.
23. “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”
One who loves
So a father has many roles but the overarching role from which all of these others stem is that of love
One person has said, “I think it’s all about just being there and loving them because kids feel that need every single day.”
Yes, fathers love their children and they are precious to them. As we have seen fathers will do anything to fulfil their children’s needs, on whatever plane those needs may be, whether it be physical, material, emotional, social and, yes, even spiritual.
In the same way, or more accurately, in a greatly enhanced way, God loves us and values us and His desire is to be close to us. We are precious to Him, so precious that He gave His own son to be our redeemer
19. We love him, because he first loved us.
4. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
And we are not just written, but engraved, on the heart of God. We cannot be erased from His love.
So to sum up, I trust that our children and grandchildren can say as this person has.
“I thank God that I’m a product of my parents, that they infected me with their intelligence and energy for life, with their thirst for knowledge and their love. I’m grateful that I know where I come from.”
Or even better still –
“Happy Father’s Day.
You are a wonderful model of Jesus.