Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
First, Happy Father’s Day. Being a father is one of the two most important jobs on this planet Earth. And it comes with a lot of challenges. Before fatherhood young men see the world as their oyster, nothing is impossible for them. They are endowed with a magic wand, which governs most of their young lives and thinking. They find a young woman or she finds him, she as God says, has desire for her husband. So they start a relationship and in eight seconds their worlds change. He is no longer the centre of the universe, he finds himself playing second fiddle to a peeing, pooping, puking child of perfection. He is now a father and everything has changed.
The Bible has a lesson about this. A man named Elkanah and his wife Hannah, had trouble conceiving a child. Elkanah in an attempt to console Hannah said “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat ? Why is your heart sad ? Am I not more to you than ten sons ?” Poor old Elkanah found out he was not more important than even one son to her. And it’s true for now too, it still comes as a shock to men today. The desire to procreate outweighs nearly every other desire we have, male and female. God made it such a pleasurable act. Some men however cannot stand the change and become delinquent fathers. It’s a kind of a post partum for men. At the same time some women cannot handle the responsibility of motherhood either and so we have abortions and adoptions, a sad, sad response to the miracle of life by both. Not all abortions or adoptions are related to rape, or incest or danger, just inconvenience, and that is the real inconvenient truth because regardless of how conceived, the child deserves to live, but is not given the chance, and the father seldom has a say in abortion or not, worsening his alienation.
The praying mantis female bites off the head of her male partner after sex. For many fathers that is their experience they are no longer useful. We should pray for all those mothers and fathers who cannot fulfill their role as parents.
But for those fathers who overcome all the emotional and physical changes related to childbirth, those wonderful fathers, a new world opens; a world of joy, triumph, and pain. There is nothing quite like a father showing his children how to do stuff, passing on his knowledge and skills. With patience the child will exceed his expectations and he will be glad. He will run for ages holding the saddle of the bike carefully judging when to let go, but continuing to run to pick the little one up and kiss the scraped hands and knees better (he didn’t think to get gloves and knee pads, he just wanted to give his child a new experience); that’s what fathers do. He will take them to learn sports or music or dance or you name it, where they will fail a thousand times and he will lift them up and give them the courage to try again and be over the moon when something at last goes right; that’s what fathers do. He will sit down and go over homework ‘til the cows come home. He will read bedtime stories and tuck them in and they will both dream about what will be, just as if he were a child again; that’s what fathers do.
He probably will not be the great disciplinarian (that’s what mothers do) but he will guide his child to good thinking and hopefully Christianity. Dad will always think of himself as the provider (even though mother contributes equally); it’s a guy thing. He will always be wrong in his beloved’s eyes but he will smile and love her just the same; that’s a guy thing too. He will revel in his children’s success and relish their attainment of adulthood. Oh the pleasure of a mature conversation with his heir, sharing a beer or a joke. He will protect his child from misfortune.
And if the child rebels and goes off the rails, this too is covered in the Bible. David’s son Absalom rebelled against his dad and sought to kill him, but Absalom was still the apple of David’s eye, and when rebellion cost Absalom his life, David cried “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom ! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son !” Fathers would give up their lives for the sake of their child the way that Quebec father did in St. Marten last week, and it’s often why they volunteer for the armed forces. In spite of fathers’ heroism this modern society often looks on fathers, and men in general, with suspicion, that too causes great pain to a generous heart.
Gradually fathers, mothers too, recede into the background as their child enters the prime of life. Dad is not much anymore for climbing the ladder of success (if he is wise he will acknowledge that he only got to the middle rung anyway) and he will settle back and let his son or daughter take over, start families of their own and grow the family tree he has nurtured so lovingly all these years.
A word or two from the Bard about men;
“All the world’s a stage and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school. And then the lover, sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier, full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice, in fair round belly with good capon lined, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances; and so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts into the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side; his youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide for his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
But better than that all men are blessed in being created in the biblical image of God the Father Himself, what an honour, so Happy Fathers’ Day guys ! Amen.