The Favored Child
Father’s Day, 2016
Galatians 4: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Dear friends in Christ,
This past Wednesday, I posted on the church and my personal FB a request for help in writing my sermon for Father’s Day. As I did that, I imagine dozens and perhaps hundreds of people thinking to themselves, “well I’ve listened to his sermons before and he could sure use some help.” I posted one of my dad’s favorite saying, a Law kind of a statement, “Quit your complaining, or I’ll give you something to complain about.” In the next 24 hours, I received over 140 responses to my request for favorite sayings, and as I looked through them into four categories –
• Bits of wisdom /law statements / no fewer than 108 of them / “do as I say, not as I do”, “shape up or ship out”, “if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all”, “life isn’t fair”, “you have to use people up the way they are”, “you’re cruising for a bruising”, “go ahead and make my day”, “promise me you won’t pick up hitchhikers”, “do I need to come back there and knock together some heads”, “all I want for Father’s Day is for my kids to be alive and out of jail”, “throw the last punch, not the first”, “don’t spend it all in one place”, “always do your best”, Debi’s dad said “if you want it done right, you’re gonna have to do it yourself”, one of mine – “only boring people get bored”, and one of my favorites, “get your butt out of bed, people die in their sleep.”
• 15 were what I call feel good kinds of favorite memories, “the dad who would see a child crying and say, “what’s that tune you’re singing,”, every night we had ice cream together, dad saying in a calm and relaxed way, “just go slow”, a dad reading “The Night Before Christmas” to 8 kids every Christmas Eve, the dad singing “roll out the barrel” early in the morning, the dad singing “put another log on the fire” at campfire time, “life is good”,
• 11 favorite sayings were what I would say are just kind of funny ones, “see you in the movies”, “as dumb as I ever was is as smart as you’ll ever be” or “I’m the only normal person I know”, this dad / me who would get my kids to stop fighting by threatening to sing all the way through The Lutheran Hymnal 1941 edition, “Open now the gates of beauty, Zion let me enter there, where my soul is joyful duty …..the father urging kids to eat something would say “that will put hair on your chest”, “always eat your dessert first in case you run out of room.”
• 2 were what I would call Gospel kinds of sayings, “God loves you and so do I”, another one who talked about her dad as the best dad in the world and focused on how he dealt with people with kindness and grace, always looking for the best in people.
In fairness to those who responded, they were answering the question I asked, which is what were your dad’s favorite sayings. Better questions would have been, how did your dad help you know the love of Jesus? Or how did your earthly father help you to understand the grace and mercy of your God? Or how did your father model the forgiveness of sins? Or how did your dad help you to know that you were loved no matter what?
I read this past week an article that said Hallmark has givenfree cards to inmates on Mother’s and Father’s Day. Whereas they always ran out on Mother’s Day, only a small percentage of cards were actually used by inmates for Father’s Day.
I also read this anonymous quote that says it pretty well, “A dad is someone who wants to catch you before you fall, but instead picks you up, brushes you off, and lets you try again. A dad is someone who wants to keep you from making mistakes, but instead lets you find your own way, even though his heart breaks in silence when you get hurt. A dad is someone who holds you when you cry, scolds you when you break the rules, shines with pride when you succeed, and has faith in you even when you fail.”
Our sermon theme today is “The Favored Child”, and my simple goal is to help you that no matter how terrific or not so terrific your earthly father was and is, your Father in heaven invites you to live every one of your days believing with all your heart that you are one of his favorites. To live every one of your days believing that in Holy Baptism, the sign of the cross has been placed on your forehead and on your heart and you have been claimed as precious and valuable. To live believing in the crucifixion, believing in resurrection, believing your names are written in the book of life, believing your sins are forgiven and forgotten in the courtroom of God, believing that your good works will be remembered on that glorious day when our Savior come back again, believing as good and as honest and as kind and as strong and as caring as your earthly father may have been or are today, your Father in heaven is perfectly good, perfectly honest, perfectly kind, perfectly strong, perfectly caring, with no exceptions and with no room for improvement.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer you a top ten list of favorite sayings of your Father in heaven in conversation with His own Son Jesus and the Spirit of God who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Favorite saying #10 – Father to Son – I’m going to have to send you (down there). Son, you’re going to be a fertilized egg, then an embryo, then a fetus, and then you’re going to be born of a woman so you can learn what it means to be cared for and nourished. You’re going to be a toddler so you can learn how to share….a school age child so you can learn how to study and learn and respect authority…..you’re going to be a teenager so you can learn what it means to fight off feelings of lust and flee fornication….you’re going to live into your 20’s so you can work alongside of your dad and learn a trade….you’re going to spend three years training 12 pretty average kind of guys so they can turn this world upside down in your memory…..I’m going to have to send you down there, Son, so you can do face to face battle with Satan himself, so you can suffer everything sinful people should have to suffer, so you can taste what it feels like to be crucified and then to die.
Favorite saying #9- Tell them this hurts me more than it (hurts them). When I make them suffer in slavery for 450 years and wander in the wilderness for 40 years and go into captivity for 70 and then 120 years, tell them it hurts me more than it hurts them. When I permit little children and teenagers and young parents to die and be buried, it hurts me more than it hurts them. When the nations of this world live in such a way that their people die by mass starvation or horrendous poverty, it hurts me more than it hurts them. Son, when I forsake you on a little hill outside of Jerusalem, it’s going to hurt me more than it hurts you.
Favorite saying #8 - Tell them they are saved by faith alone and not (by works). Son, there’s going to be a lot of confusion on this one. All kinds of well meaning folks are going to get this one wrong, and a few are going to get it right. Just tell their preachers to keep holding out this beautiful invitation to call on the name of Jesus Christ, to be saved by that name, to be saved by faith alone.
Favorite saying #7 – Tell them faith never comes (alone). True faith is always going to be alive with the good works I have prepared for them to do. Tell them husbands to spend their days laying down their lives for their brides. Encourage the brides to appreciate their men. Keep telling the parents to be faithful, even when it seems like life is going against them. Son, I want everyone to know how valuable each person is, how I have created them marvelously and with purpose. Please son, help them to understand that they are loved, their sins have been forgotten, their good works are being remembered.
Favorite saying #6 – Tell them that life isn’t fair, it’s actually (more than fair). Son, I know these people mean well, and there is some truth in what they say, there are folks who seem to be getting a bum deal in life. But in the overall scheme of things, they will be so much better off begging for mercy from a loving God than asking for fairness.
Saying #5 – Say to them, (“Seriously?”) Seriously, you can receive all of that daily bread and so much more and then spend your days discontented? Seriously, you can see so many hurting and broken people at the side of the road or maybe even in the middle of the road and you can just walk right on past them. Seriously, yo u Seriously, you can memorize the Ten Commandments and get to the point of life where you see them as suggestions? Seriously, you can know the stories of Christmas and Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning and wonder if I love you?
Favorite saying #4 – Tell them that it may not seem like it, but (my timing is perfect”). This may be the most difficult truth of all to understand, but please, Son, just ask them to trust us. Invite them to believe that we have been around for a long long time and we know what we are doing, that we love them with all of our heart and all of our soul and all of our mind.
Favorite saying # 3- Tell them it’s going to get worse and then (way better). There’s so much about this world that’s messed up, in the days to come, it’s going to be more messed up than ever, and then one day, there’s going to be a resurrection of all those bodies they have laid to rest in their cemeteries, and there’s going to be everlasting life. Son, invite them to spend their days not dreading, but looking forward to that day.
Favorite saying #2 – Tell them they can ask me (for whatever they want). Son, why don’t you say this to them, Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Favorite saying #1 – Tell them I love them (no matter what). When they are straying and going their own ways, I will love them with a sad heart. When they are staying close and paying attention, I will love them with a joyful heart. When they are full of themselves, I will love them with a disappointed heart, and when they sit still long enough for me to fill them my Spirit, I will love them with a satisfied heart. If they can’t remember anything else we say to them, Son, just tell them I love them no matter what. Amen.
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