The Role of Fathers in Godís Kingdom
The text for this sermon is Mark 4:26-34.† Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 17, 2012.† This is also Fatherís Day.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Time magazine did a feature story on fatherhood some years ago and told us some things that surely must get our attention today.† It is estimated that 50% of all American children live apart from their biological father.† In some inner city neighborhoods not far from us, four out of five children do not have a dad at home.† Is there a consequence of these statistics?† You better believe there is!† Studies of young criminals have found that 70% of all juveniles in state reform institutions came from fatherless homes.† Children from broken families are nearly twice as likely as those in two-parent families to drop out of high school.
What do we do with such unsettling information?† For those of us who have been through divorce, it feels like we are being scolded and reminded how awful we are.† For others, you may be giving a sigh of relief that your family is intact or that you no longer have to worry about such things.† For all of us today, I would like to tie †the words of Jesus in todayís gospel lesson about planting† seeds to †the vital and good role that God intends fathers to play in the life of their children.
Jesus presents two parables today in the gospel reading.† Both have to do with how the kingdom of God grows and both have ††seed images.† In the first parable, seeds are scattered and the person doing the scattering is amazed when the seeds sprout and grow into full grains.† He doesnít have a clue as to how this happens, but we are left knowing that the mysterious power to make things grow comes from God.† The second parable is about planting a small mustard seed that eventually grows into a huge bush.† Again we are left with the thought that God is in charge and the kingdom grows according to his wonderful plan and power and we cannot take credit for making it happen.
So, is being a father about planting seeds and being clueless as to the outcome like the character in the parable?† Or is there more to being a father than that?† Youíve heard this truth before: anyone can have a child (plant a seed), but it takes a special man to be a father.† Being a father is about loving and caring, guiding and sharing.
Here are some biblical truths about fathers (if you are a dad with kids still at home, I want you to rate yourself on how well you are fulfilling these† truths):† †A father offers wise counsel so he may lead his children to a path of righteousness.† He is slow to anger, yet demands respect.† ďFathers, bring up your children in the training and instruction of the Lord.Ē (Ephesians 6:1-3).† A father is strong, reliable and confident.† But a father is also tender, loving and understanding.† ďDo †to others as you would have them do to you (the Golden Rule, Matthew 7:12).Ē† A father recognizes the importance of making time for those he loves.† Sports activities and music recitals seem to be his favorite part time.† Christian fathers make sure that† being at worship together and being in Sunday School and praying together before meals and at bed-time are a natural part of family life.† ďTrain up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.Ē (Proverbs 22:6)† In all the funerals Iíve conducted for fathers over the years, there is a constant theme that emerges from the children who stood up to speak in a positive way.† That theme is about time spent together.† Iíve learned that in the end, a father is not judged by how much he earned or how many material goods he provided.† What does matter to his children is how well he did at being their dad.
I love the true story about Harmon Killebrew, a great baseball player from the past.† He tells in his autobiography about growing up in a home with 4 boys.† He says that on one occasion his father was out in the front yard playing with the boys and a neighbor walked by and said, ďMr. Killebrew, if you keep on playing baseball on your front lawn, you wonít have any grass left in your yard.Ē† Mr. Killebrew responded, ďSir, Iím not raising grass, Iím raising kids.Ē
We havenít always had a Fatherís Day Observance.† It wasnít an official observance until 1972.† Motherís Day became official way back in 1914.† The idea for fatherís day was sparked in 1909 when a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd was sitting in church 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 fathers should recognition too.† So she asked the minister of the church if he would deliver a sermon honoring fathers on her fatherís birthday and the minister did.† The idea started small (like that mustard seed) †and it grew and grew until all over the United States we observe the third Sunday in June as Fatherís Day.
It is my hope and prayer that if you are a dad, you will do everything possible to be the kind of father that God intends you to be.† May your children be given every advantage in their growth spiritually as well as intellectually and physically.† Only God knows how your children will turn out and who your children will be someday, but you nurturing them with love and encouragement is surely a part of Godís plan for the kingdom.† †Please be the best dad you can be!
In Jesusí name.† Amen!