FATHER’S DAY 2020
June 21, 2020
Mark 10:15-16, Then Jesus said, “15 Truly I tell you, anyone, who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them, and blessed them.”
Today is “Father’s Day,” and as the father of five wonderful daughters and grandfather of nine precious grandchildren. I want to take them in the arms of my heart today and bless each of them and tell them all they are loved so very much. I can hold them in my heart even when I can’t hold them any other way, and that is something I can do every day.
Over the years, there have been many things written and said about being a father. I will share some of those words with you today, and I do so because they speak to me. I know God loves me because I see that in the eyes of my children and grandchildren. I am truly blessed. So, I will make today’s message a little personal, and though today is about me as a father, I think the best way I can express my gratitude and love to my loved ones, is to express it in these words.
The minister, Henry Ward Beecher, tells us, “We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.” These are true words if there ever were any. I look back with admiration and love toward both my wonderful parents, but today especially my father. Like most everyone, we too had our ups and downs, but I know he loved my siblings and me with everything in him. And I know now, he taught me to do the same. I read a saying by an unknown author, “A father is neither an anchor to hold us back nor a sail to take us there but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.” This is how I remember my father today, and every day, I hope my children will remember me the same.
Another unknown author wrote, “There is this girl who stole my heart, and she calls me Daddy.” As you can guess, with five daughters, this rings true to me. That reminded me of something the writer, Michael Ratnadeepak, wrote, “No one in this world can love a girl more than her father.” Those are true words, but sometimes I think they seem me more like what the comedian, Spike Milligan said, “My father had a profound influence on me, he was a lunatic.” And there are days when I can agree with them. But it doesn’t change my love for them.
God has blessed me with 72 precious years if I make it until October. I have been richly blessed to be “Daddy” for 49 of those years, and “Pa” for another 33. I don’t count my blessings anymore, not because I shouldn’t, but because there are just too many to keep up with. I will agree with the actor, L. V. Scott, who said, “Fatherhood is a gift to be cherished, a rite of passage to enjoy, a responsibility to embrace…a love for eternity.” And I like to hope that I can live up to something someone else once said, “Grandpas bring a little wisdom, happiness, warmth, and love to every life they touch.” I hope my children and grandchildren agree.
In ancient Hebrew, the word for “father” was “av,” and it meant “the strength of the house,” the very foundation of the family. And though we fathers grow old and our “strength” fades until we are no more. That foundation will always be there, and it will be passed down for future generations to build strong upon. Proverbs 4:1-2, (Paraphrase) “Listen, my (children), to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.” As long as you have memories, you will always have your father.
I think the words of the ancient Greek playwright, Euripides sums it all up for me, “To a father growing old, nothing is dearer than a daughter.” I truly feel this way every day and will forever. This gives me hope and the strength to carry on for as long as God will let me. And I will agree with the writer, Linda Poindexter, “Everyone thinks they have the best father in the world….and God wouldn’t want it any other way.” And I like to think that when my girls are older that they will be like the writer, Gloria Naylor, and can say, “Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes.”
So, to my daughters and their families, and each of you reading these words. This Father’s Day, as your father, grandfather, your Pastor and friend. I will leave you with the words from Numbers 6:24-26, 24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Such as I have, I give to you, take it, make it your own. And like the poet, William Wordsworth said, “Father! – to God himself, we cannot give a holier name.”
To all, you “Father’s,” have a blessed and happy Father’s Day, 2020. And remember this, when the world around you is falling apart, your children will see you picking up the pieces and shelter them from that storm. That’s just what fathers do.
Genesis 49:26a, “Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains than the bounty of the age-old hills.”
Romans 15:33, “The God of peace be with you all. Amen.”
Rev. Dr. Shannon Rogers, DDiv
Sr. Pastor and President, Unitarian Christian Church of America (UCCA)