A Loving Father
June 15, 2014
Trinity Sunday / Father’s Day
If you look at your bulletin you’ll see that today is one of those difficult Sundays for me as I try to speak to the things of God and also address the needs of the congregation.
It’s Trinity Sunday and Father’s Day – and I struggle with addressing both.
Both are vital and important days.
Trinity Sunday is the Sunday after Penteocst when we pause to reflect upon the Trinity – the fact that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have passed through Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter when we have focused upon God the Son – the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and have had the Day of Pentecost when we focused on the work of God the Holy Spirit. Today, before we rush into the remainder of the Christian year, we stop and remember that God the Son and God the Spirit are one – and are one with God the Father.
It is important for us to remember the nature of God and celebrate the nature of God on Trinity Sunday.
But, today is also the third Sunday in June — Father’s Day – a day when we honor those men who helped give us life and nurture, teach us, and train us. And that is important also.
What’s a preacher to do? Focus on one and not the other? That would not be fair to fathers — and would not be fair to God and the focus on the Trinity.
Father’s Day already gets less attention than Mother’s Day – and to only emphasize Trinity Sunday today would only make matters worse. For some reason Father’s Day is never given the same attention Mother’s Day is given. There seems to be a difference between the way Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are celebrated. A small boy said, “Father’s Day is just like Mother’s Day, only you don’t spend as much on the gift” On Mother’s Day some preachers will get up and praise all the mothers, placing them high upon pedestals, and attributing to them no wrong, which is fine, they deserve it. But on Father’s Day, the same preachers might get up and tell all the fathers that they need to be better fathers, and then proceed to point out all the ways they fall short. Some fathers may feel like they can understand the old Rodney Dangerfield line: “I get no respect!”
No, it would also not be fair to all the men of Edgewood if I were to only talk about Trinity Sunday today and not lift them up and give praise to God for everything they do to make Edgewood the Church that it is. I pray that, as we look at these 3 passages before us today, you get a sense of the loving nature of God – the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God and Holy Spirit – and that these passages can also give you a sense of a loving father – both heavenly and earthly.
A tall order – yes – but let’s get into it.
Our passages for today from Isaiah – John – and Romans give us a way to look at the Trinity – the three in one – and see the love of God – a love that far exceeds and is different from the love any human father can give us – but a love that can be experienced and celebrated – just as the love of our human fathers can be experienced and celebrated. Of all the things we can say about God – the most important thing we can say is – God is love! Yes — God is awesome and majestic – powerful – omnipotent — but God has chosen to come to us in love!
In our passage from Isaiah the prophet sees the power of God — feels his unworthiness – but then encounters the love of God. In our passage from Romans Paul reminds us of God’s love and the assurance we can have of God’s love! In our Gospel passage, that well known passage from John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus about God’s love, a love that is so great God chose to come into world through Christ, die for our sins, and give us our salvation.
Yes, of all the things we can know about God, the greatest thing we can know is that is that God is love!
The Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – reflects the love of God. God comes to us in love! God is the creating Father. God shows us His love in creating us, establishing a relationship with us, and inviting us into relationship with Him and with all creation. God is the Redeeming Son. God shows us God’s love in coming into the world and dying for our sins, then rising again so that we may have eternal life, which is an eternal relationship with Him God is the Sustaining Spirit. God strengthens us so that we might have a loving relationship with Him and others and do His work and will in the world.
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — the mysterious Trinity – but one God, and one message – God is love. God loves us, created us, desires to have a relationship with us, saves us from our sins, and desires for us to live in His love and do His work.
Karl Barth was one of the premier theologians of the 20th century – in fact on the premier theologians of all time. One day as he was teaching in Basil Switzerland he was asked what the most important theological fact he knew was. The students expected a long treatise – Barth was not known for brevity – but he responded:
“Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.”
Jesus loves you. God loves you. That’s the most important thing you can know about God. God loves you, created you, God desires to have relationship with you, God desires you to find salvation in Him, and God desires for you to live in His ways and do His will. God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – loves you. You were created so that you can live in a loving relationship with God and all people.
Paul presents a beautiful image for us in our Romans passage – the image of our being children of a loving father. We are not slaves – Paul says – who have to fear God, but we are children – children of God – and we can approach God as a child approaches a loving father. The word Paul gives — “Abba” – is an Aramaic word that is synonymous with our word “Daddy” – and illustrates the depth of that beautiful relationship we can have with God.
When we talk about “Daddy”, especially on Father’s Day, our minds naturally turn to our earthly fathers, and the love that many of us have experienced and shared with our earthly fathers. It’s a great feeling to be able to remember the love of “Daddy”.
God has brought us into a relationship with Him where we can come to Him as a child would the most loving of “Daddy’s” and share the love, the specialness, the good feelings that God wants to share with us. God wants you to relate to Him in love, in happiness. in joy, and in the security of knowing that He loves you and will always love you. God’s love for you is much more than even the most loving of earthly fathers – the best of Daddy’s – but it is an example of love for all earthly father’s – earthly Daddy’s – to follow.
The love of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is a love that is always ready to teach you, always ready to correct you if need be, and always ready to forgive you. That’s how the love of a loving, devoted Christian father should be. The love of God is an example for all fathers to follow. I don’t fool myself by thinking that any fathers are perfect in their emulation of the love of God, but I do suggest that the love of God should be the goal that all Christians, fathers and mothers, should strive to show to their children and all people.
Dads, you need to be one of the first people who show your children the love of God. I believe a child who has a loving Christian father has a much better chance of knowing God’s love than a child who does not. I firmly believe that I am the man I am today because I was blessed with a loving and devoted Christian father. I pray that I have some of the same qualities my Dad had. I know I look a lot like him – but I pray that I act like him also. Dad was loving – he was tough when he needed to be – but looking back on it I can see that – even when he was toughest – he was loving. He taught me how to live. He was a leader in the community and was known for his honesty and integrity – but most of all he was known for his devotion God and his family. That’s the Christian father I experienced, and thats the kind of Christian man I am striving to be.
Dads – I pray you are an example for your children. An example of the loving God we all have and an example of the loving person God calls us to be.
On this Trinity Sunday we celebrate the love of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and on this Father’s Day we celebrate the love of our fathers. We also celebrate all the men of Edgewood – for you all do so much to make Edgewood the Church that it is. From those of you who teach and work with our young people and adults to those who serve on the Session or other committees to those who share your gift of singing and leading us in worship to those who are more than willing to pick up a hammer or a rake or a shovel to do what needs to be done around the Church or at the home of someone in the community to those of who cook wonderful meals or help in so many other ways in the Church and community, you all do so much to make Edgewood the Church that it is – and for that we give you praise.
On this Trinity Sunday, give praise to God – Father – Son – and Holy Sprit.
On this Father’s Day, find ways to tell your Dad how much you appreciate him and all he means to you.
I encourage you to give him gifts and cards today, but to also give him love every day. If you can do it in person, do it. If he has died as mine has, praise God for what he did for you. Look for ways to tell him what he means to you.
But also look for ways to tell all the men who make a difference in your life what they mean to you. A man does not have to be a biological father to make a difference in your life and be a living example of the love of God to you. Find ways to thank and give praise to all the men who make a major difference in your life.
Every day find ways to celebrate the love of God – and remember that – of all the things you can know about God – the greatest thing you can know is that God is love and that God loves you.
Every day also celebrate the love of your earthly father.
Our earthly fathers and the men who touch our lives need to be celebrated.
The love of God needs to be celebrated also.
Earthly fathers can be instruments of God’s love in the lives of their children and those around them – for God is Father – God is Son – and God is Holy Spirit – and God is love. Amen.