The Perfect Father
Before we start our sermon all about Fathers let’s start with a little trivia this morning. What day of the year are the most phone calls made???…… Mother’s day! It seems that on mother’s day everyone wants to call home and check in.
What do you think happens on father’s day? Anyone want to make a Guess?
Father's day is known for the most ….. Collect Calls.
A little boy was asked what is Father’s Day and he said, "Father’s Day is just like Mother’s Day, only you don’t spend as much on the gift."
For the most part, Mom’s are blessed with the special ability of nurture and healing. They can often heal the body and soul of life’s hurts.
Father’s day seems like a day set aside as someone’s attempt of giving dads equal time. I know it was done with the right heart. But, it has never had the draw and impact that mother’s day has enjoyed..
Following are some answers from young and adult children when asked what are fathers or what is fatherhood:
Fatherhood is...getting to go anywhere you want for Father’s Day, getting to drive there, and even getting to pay the bill!
It’s getting up in the middle of the night to see what the noise was outside, when you’d really rather stay in bed and hide, like everyone else.
It’s the best excuse in the world to buy all those toys you wanted as a child and never got.
It’s catching yourself watching cartoons when no one else is home, and enjoying them.
It’s assembling toys that require one screwdriver and a nuclear physicist to assemble.
It’s having that dad that you give him the gift of a Stud Finder knowing it is what they really want and they put it on themselves and say look Stud Found!!
It’s praying for, hoping for, and anxiously looking forward to the day when your kids will be out of the house and on their own...and then trying to postpone that day as long as possible when it approaches.
It’s carrying sleepy kids into the house when you’re too tired to even carry yourself in.
It’s a person that loves you and takes care of you.
It’s someone who cares about you. They spend time with you and love you.
There is a story about a brother and sister that came home from school and started begging their mother to allow them to take ownership of the classroom pet. This wonderful creature that the children wanted so much was a hamster named Davie.
Mom kept saying no and had plenty of good reasons why the children could not bring Davie home.
It finally came down to an explanation that a pet is a lot of responsibility and work. As children do, they both promised to do everything to take care of Davie. And after hours of begging and promises Mom said, yes.
But she made it very clear that if the children stopped taking proper care that she would quickly make arrangements to find Davie a new home.
It had only been a couple of weeks when Mom had to constantly remind the children about feeding and watering and cleaning up. About two more weeks passed and mom started making calls and found a home for Davie.
She went into the living room to tell the children about her decision. She told them that Davie had become a lot of work for just one person. That they had not been much of help and that she found him a new home.
She was surprised when the children did not seem bothered by her announcement.
Then her daughter said, is it because he eats too much? Maybe they could find a way to help him eat less.
Mom said that it was not the eating so much as the mess and the smell. And then there was all the extra work that she had to do cleaning up. The children seemed to understand and nodded in a sort of agreement and turned back toward their TV program. Mom went and picked up Davies’s cage and assorted supplies and headed back through the living room.
The kids saw her carrying the cage and started shouting, hey, what are you doing with Davie?
Mom responded, We just talked about this. Because of all the extra work and having to do it all by myself I found Davie a new home.
The children said, “No not Davie, we thought you said daddy.”
Dads are different, Dads just seem to be like some of the tools in the garage that are just sitting there until you need them.
Our current culture likes to laugh at dads and poke fun in all kinds of ways at the dads that are involved with their children. A bit different from the TV shows from the 50s and 60s where dad was a guide and had wisdom and reason and was a force to be reckoned with.
We have gone from a time of TV character dads like Ward Cleaver, Ozzie Nelson, Howard Cunningham, and Mike Brady to Archie bunker, Al Bundy, and Homer Simpson.
I wonder how that has affected many young men’s view of what fatherhood is.
To modify a common phrase, “Dad’s get no respect.”
But we are not here to talk about the ills of TV and culture today. We are here to consider our dads.
Dads are normally very different than moms and tend to be the one to fix broken stuff, solve certain logical problems, act as the provider and defender of the family, especially for their daughters. (Before anyone gets upset I just want to say that I know many moms that also do these things, but today is about dads)
I believe that most of us use our own fathers as a guide on what we believe God is like. If your father was distant or not there you probably feel that God might be that same way. Of course many who’s biological fathers weren’t around but had a strong father figure in their life may view that differently and see God as strong, kind, unselfish and more.
Some of us may have a real fear of our fathers. We fear punishment and rejection.
How many times growing up did you hear (Wait until your Father Gets Home!) Dad was often used as the ultimate punishment machine. Some believe God is just waiting for all of us to make mistakes.
OR for some, we may have found that we could not be good enough.
Perhaps it was grades, or friends or any choices in your life that were judged harshly. And you just can’t see how you can satisfy your dad. Because of that we feel like God is disappointed in us.
Perhaps it was or is some combination of good and bad traits that you think of when you think about your dad.
Let me just say that it is unfair to God for us to use an earthly standard to judge what he is like and that the bible is our best source of insight into what our heavenly father is like.
- But I do believe that scripture suggests what an earthly father should be like.
In our scripture today, we have the story of a dad and two sons. It is a parable told by Jesus to illustrate what God is like when his children stray. It is about what God wants. The scripture we read “The story of the Prodigal Son” begins with a man who has two sons. The younger son asks his father for his portion of the family estate as an early inheritance. Once received, the son promptly sets off on a long journey and begins to waste his fortune on wild living.
When the money runs out, a severe famine hits the country and the son finds himself in dire circumstances. He takes a job feeding pigs. Eventually, he grows so destitute that he even longs to eat the food assigned to the pigs.
The young man finally comes to his senses, remembering his father. In humility, he recognizes his foolishness and decides to return to his father and ask for forgiveness and mercy. The father who has been watching and waiting, receives his son back with open arms of compassion. He is overjoyed by the return of his lost son.
Immediately the father turns to his servants and asks them to prepare an enormous feast in celebration of his son's return.
Meanwhile, the older son boils in anger when he comes in from working the fields to discover a party with music and dancing to celebrate his younger brother's return. The father tries to dissuade the older brother from his jealous rage explaining, "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours."
Now typically, a son would receive his inheritance at the time of his father's death. The fact that the younger brother instigated the early division of the family estate showed a rebellious and almost proud disregard for his father's authority, not to mention a selfish and immature attitude.
In those days pigs were unclean animals. Jews were not even allowed to touch pigs. When the son took a job feeding pigs, even longing for their food to fill his belly, it revealed that he had fallen as low as he could possibly go. This son represents a person living in rebellion to God. Sometimes we have to hit rock-bottom before we come to our senses and recognize our sin.
This section of Luke's Gospel is dedicated to the lost. The first question it raises for readers is, "Am I lost?" The father is a picture of our Heavenly Father. God waits patiently, with loving compassion to restore us when we return to him with humble hearts. He offers us everything in his kingdom, restoring full relationship with joyful celebration. He doesn't dwell on our past waywardness.
We see how bitterness and resentment keep the older son from forgiving his younger brother. It blinds him to the treasure he freely enjoys through a constant relationship with the father. Jesus loved hanging out with sinners because he knew they would see their need of salvation and respond, flooding heaven with joy.
I do believe that this story and scripture suggests what an earthly father should be like. Patient, compassionate, loving, forgiving.
It describes family relationships and how different members act. Think about it, if you have siblings you are probably very different from each other, in your thoughts and your attitudes.
If you really think about it, you can probably find your place in the story. Are you rebellious or selfish or are you kind and patient and thoughtful. Or maybe you are somewhere in between.
Some of us may look at our life right now and realize that we thought we were grownup and we moved out to make our own mistakes.
Others may feel that we have stayed with the family and have done the best we can with all kinds of limits on our lives.
Some of us loosely see ourselves in the dad position and we are doing the best we know how.
In our scripture, the father, gives his younger son, what he asked for. He hands over his share of what would one day be his inheritance.
I am not sure that it is the giving of the inheritance that is the point in this parable. I believe it is the gift of freedom and the ability to go that is the action.
Dads want to give their kids the things they want. They want their children to be happy. They want their children to become independent.
Dads will let you make a mistake and hope you will learn from it.
Dads will love you through your pain and suffering, many times never saying a word, perhaps not knowing what to say.
The story indicates that our heavenly father gives us free will. He allows us the freedom to choose. He could control us, and make it so we chose the easy path, which is him, but, he keeps just enough distance so that we have that choice…..
So if Dads are to be like our heavenly father they should do the same thing.
Dads should allow us to make choices for ourselves. But that is not at all an easy thing for them to do.
In Jesus’ story the son comes running back home, but only after messing up big time.
In the story, the father is looking down the road, almost as if he expected or perhaps is longing for the son to come home.
And when it happens, he meets him down the road. And is happy to see him and accept him back as a son.
Let me remind you that Jesus is talking about his/our heavenly father and not an earthly one. He is talking about a perfect father and not an earthly one.
I know more than one father that has accepted their children back home in this way. Sometimes they come home with Grandchildren in tow. …… and a lot of emotional baggage that everyone involved would prefer to ignore.
My thought this morning is that ….as an earthly dad many of you have a goal to be like our heavenly father.
----Man what big shoes to try to slip your feet into.
How many fathers instead of welcoming their children back after making big mistakes in their lives are going to be so compassionate, or are they going to say I TOLD you SO!
I’m sure as Dads what scares you the most, is Fear that you will make it hard for your kids to come home after they make a big mistake.
I know that as parents we don’t choose a favorite but you might say something like why can’t you be like your brother. Stay here near home, work hard, make a life for yourself, why do you have to run off.
As the earthly dad, it is really easy to try to make a comparison between the kids. Use one against the other to try to influence and control.
But, even the kids that stay at home can have problems with dad.
Perhaps they are kept them from becoming independent. You sheltered them and did not prepare them for the real world, maybe you were over protective.
Maybe you should have encouraged some independence and just a little risk taking.
-- Maybe this is just something I hope is true…but, I don’t think that there are any perfect earthly dads or moms for that matter.
However, I still think God wants dads to be like the father in the story.
How many of you want to be like the dad in this story, to be a perfect dad.
But you know you are human.
But what is the difference between God and you. In this parable we see a father that has a divine love. We see a father that can always do the right thing, why, because He is God. And you know you are not like that. You know you are going to make mistakes and have fathering troubles.
Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of 14 my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man learned in 7 years."
Being a father is a learning process. We get help from scripture and other men we know. In the process you may feel like some of the dads you see portrayed on today’s TV shows. Incompetent, dumb, sarcastic, self-centered. But most of the Dad’s I know are not like that.
And then we come to father’s day and our families want to offer us acknowledgment and even some kind of a simple reward.
The family worries about what to get for father’s day….They wonder
Is my dad looking for a special Tie, chosen by his children, something that represents their love for him or some aspect of his personality?
Does he want a new multifunction remote control that will operate every appliance in the house?
Does he want breakfast in bed or to go out to lunch?
Maybe it’s a subscription to Sports illustrated Magazine or some special power tool?
But maybe it’s something the family can’t give,
Maybe you just want to be a better father. Maybe you would like to be a perfect father like you see God being with wisdom, vision, perfect love and know just what to say and do in any situation.
What does the story suggest that a dad wants?
They want to know their children are doing well and are not suffering.
They want their children to know that they can come home.
They want their children to be wise and equipped to face the world.
God has the wisdom to let us learn the hard way, and the love to welcome us back anytime we goof up, no matter how bad.
God never says I told you so.
God is God, and God is the perfect father.
When we go off to a far country, never expecting to return, he waits, Not patiently but anxiously for our return.
What an earthly father wants is the same as the heavenly father.
But they are at a disadvantage, because they want to be perfect, but most know they aren’t.
Just like the heavenly father they wait anxiously for the phone to ring, and are more than willing to accept the charges to hear from their children.
And when they answer that phone and accept the charges, do you know what they say “thanks for calling because, you know your mom worries, if we don’t hear from you”.
Our God would love to hear from all of you this Father's Day!
Call… call collect and often; because, you know he worries.
There is nothing He likes more than to hear from you!
‒ Pastor Pam