Pastor Jim Kniseley prepared this sermon for Fatherís Day, June 17, 2007, at Resurrection Lutheran Church, Fredericksburg.
The idea of observing Fatherís Day started in† church.† In May of 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd was sitting in a church in Spokane, Washington, listening to a Motherís Day sermon.† She thought of her father who had raised her and her siblings after her mother died in childbirth, and she thought that fathers should get recognition too.† So she asked the minister of the church if he would deliver a sermon honoring fathers on her fatherís birthday, which was coming up in June, and the minister did.† And the tradition of Fatherís Day caught on, though rather slowly.† Motherís Day became an official holiday in 1914; Fatherís Day, not until 1972.† Did you know that Motherís Day is still the busiest day of the year for florists, restaurants and long distance phone companies?† Fatherís Day is the day on which the most collect phone calls are made.
Hereís a story about the essence of fatherhood that I gleaned from the Christian Reader.††† It is called ďPriceless Scribbles.Ē† A young boy watched as his father walked into the living room.† The boy noticed that his younger brother, John, began to cower slightly as his father entered.† The older boy sensed that John had done something wrong.† Then he saw from a distance what his brother had done.† The younger boy had opened his fatherís brand new hymnal and scribbled all over the first page with a pen.
Staring at their father fearfully, both brothers waited for Johnís punishment.† Their father picked up his prized hymnal, looked at it carefully and then sat down, without saying a word.† Books were precious to him; he was a minister with several academic degrees.† For him, books were knowledge.† What he did next was remarkable, says the author of this story.† Instead of punishing his brother, instead of scolding or yelling, his father took the pen from the little boyís hand, and then wrote in the book himself, alongside the scribbles that John had made.† Here is what the father wrote: ďJohnís work, 1959, age 2. How many times have I looked into our beautiful face and into your war, alert eyes looking up at me and thanked God for the one who has now scribbled in my new hymnal.† You have made the book sacred, as have your brother and sister to so much of my life.Ē
ďWow,Ē thought the older brother, ďThis is punishment?Ē† The author of the story, now an adult, goes on to say how that hymnal became a treasured family possession, how it was tangible proof that their parents loved the, how it taught the lesson that what really matter is people, no objects: patience, not judgment,; love, not anger.
Todayís gospel reading gave us a glimpse of Jesusí family life when he was 12 years old.† I suppose I relate to that story on Fatherís Day because it talks about Joseph, Jesusí stepfather.† I am a stepfather.† Someone once told me that I could never really understand the bond of a real father and his child.† To that I say baloney.
God entrusted Jesus to Mary and Joseph.† When their child was missing, both were frantic with fear, for they loved Jesus.† They may not have understood completely what was his destiny and purpose, but they did know that their calling was to parent this child and teach him all they could to prepare him for being an adult.†
Yes, they found him in the temple area, conversing with Jewish teachers, who were amazed at his understanding.† And then Luke tells us: then (Jesus) went down with them and came to Nazareth, and he was obedient to them.† His mother treasured all these things in her heart.† And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.
It is my hope and prayer that every father within sound of my voice will take seriously the call of God to be a good and faithful parent.† It is also my hope and prayer that every son and daughter here will be like Jesus and be a good and obedient child to their parents.
Thanks be to God.