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The Gift of Fatherhood

June 18, 2017

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Second Sunday after Pentecost / Trinity Lutheran Church

18 June 2017                                     Murdock, NE


Ephesians 6:1-4

 “Children, obey your fathers in the Lord for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother … Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”


The Lord is the giver of gifts. He is a categorical Giver! He gives gifts through His creatures. Creatures are the hands, channels and means through which God bestows all blessings (Large Catechism).  He provides you with daily bread through the farmer, the baker, the chef and the grocer. He protects you by means of police officers, fire fighters, and the armed forces. He creates beauty through artists, sculptors, actors, musicians and singers. He heals you by way of doctors, surgeons, nurses and others in the medical professions. He proclaims His Word and spiritually cares for you through the men put into the office of the holy ministry. He is the source of physical life and He creates life – the most amazing miraculous gift of all – by means of parents.


Your father is God’s mask. God hides Himself in your father to give you gifts. Fatherhood is one of God’s hiding places. Remarkably, as He hides within the office of father, God also at the same time reveals Himself to you. Concretely. Objectively. You’ve all been euchred into believing that you have to have some kind of mystical experience, see some kind of spectacular miracle or extraordinary act to see God at work. Wrong! One of the ways God is found at work in your life is through fatherhood! In the everyday and down to earth vocation of father God is very close to you, personally with you, and He providentially deals with you. God gave you your life through your creaturely father. You are not the source of your life. God is – THROUGH YOUR FATHER! Behind Dad looms God Himself – providing life and care FOR YOU.


That’s why you, children, are to honor and obey your father. As God’s representative. As God’s hand. As God’s mouth. As God’s instrument. Again, God created you through your Dad. God takes care of you through your father. “Yeah, but my Dad is so weird! He’s so quirky! He’s such a geek! A goob! A doofus!   He smells. He belches He passes gas all the time! He’s so creepy! So gross!” I know. I know. But that’s how God rolls. HE USES ordinary, dull, commonplace and odd dudes to be fathers. Get used to it! It is what it is!


Now, fathers, (listen carefully) your office or vocation as father, like every vocation that God has instituted, has been given authority. It is the authority to … LOVE and SERVE your children. God doesn’t need your love. God doesn’t need your service. Your children do! Desperately. They crave your affection and attention. They hanker for your help.


Fathers, one of the most important ways you love and serve your children is to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is God’s will. Categorical. This is holy work. You are to bring them for holy baptism. Teach them the Commandments and the Creed. To pray the Lord’s Prayer. Bring them to Sunday School and the divine service.   Make sure they eat and drink the Lord’s body and blood which is given and shed for them for the forgiveness of sins. To be one of the Lord’s hangers on. To trust only in Jesus for salvation. Fathers, you are the Lord’s instrument to do that. That is your authority as father. And you have God’s promise from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”


Now, gentlemen, we need to have a heart to heart. A sit down. Let’s be honest. It’s a no brainer but we’re all in denial. Fathers sin in their vocation of fatherhood. Fathers insist on being served rather than serving – loving themselves rather than their children. Fathers misuse, waste, abuse and squander the gifts and the calling God Himself has given. We fathers have “exasperated” our children. “Provoked them to anger.” As if they can’t do anything right. Everything they do is wrong in our sight. We father like tyrants and bullies instead of fathering with service and love. It’s no wonder that many adult children speak of their father in this way: “I hate that man! I couldn’t do anything right! Nothing I did could please him!” That’s why Father’s Day is a double-edged sword for many people.


So, today is a day for repentance. Fathers, you are not called to hurt, use or harm your children. You are called to the life of self-sacrifice so that you care for them. Today is the day to confess our failings in fatherhood, especially when we do not “bring up [our children] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” and when we “provoke them to anger.”  We haven’t lived up to our God-given vocation of fatherhood. We frustrated our kids. Disciplined out of anger, not love. Acted selfishly.


We’ve put our own power and prestige ahead of our kids. We’ve farmed out the teaching of the faith to Mom. We sleep in, fish, hunt, do yard work, home improvement projects, yada, yada, yada while Mom takes the kids to Sunday School and church. We act as if the text from Ephesians is a nothing. We hear it but then we speak our own words that contradict it or oppose it. Like we have better words than the Lord. Like we are little divinities that speak infallibly even when our words are completely contrary to today’s text. As if we are exceptions to the text today. What is even worse is this: our apathy, our rebellion doesn’t bother us one little iota! That, gentlemen, without some honest repentance, will result in an everlasting, hellacious disaster. It will be your fault. No one else’s. Certainly not God’s!


We know better! So we need to do better with fatherhood! So it is time for us fathers to repent. To confess our sin to Jesus and to our children and to ask them for forgiveness. And children, because Jesus died FOR YOU, you can forgive your father. In Jesus’ Name. Just like you pray: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgiven those who trespass against us.” This is using Jesus properly – as the Mediator / Savior of sinners. As you bestow His forgiveness to you father there will be renewal in fatherhood with your Dad. He will learn all the more what it means then to be God’s instrument to take care of you. To love you. To serve you. And to forgive you too. As you have forgiven him.


Now it’s the kid’s turn. I’m talking to you kids. Let’s be honest. You too have sinned against your father. You haven’t honored him like you should. You rebel against his authority to serve and love you. Especially when Dad says “we’re going to church today” or “it’s time to go to Sunday School or youth catechesis.” Especially when Dad says, “Let’s pray.” I could go on and on. But you get the point.


So, confess your sin to your father. Dad, be the mouth of Christ, and because Jesus died FOR YOU too, forgive your child in Christ’s name. Kids, Jesus is the perfect son of His Father. He obeyed His Father perfectly even to death on the cross. He covers you with His perfect obedience. Fathers, the forgiveness that you speak to your children for the sake of Good Friday Jesus will bear much fruit. Your children will honor you as the Lord’s instrument to serve and love them. Families will be built up and edified in their faith of Jesus who is the Savior of sinners. Your family will hunger to hear Christ’s Word all the more and to receive even more of His forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper.


Yes, Father’s Day is a day to forgive each other as God in Christ has forgiven you of everything. Father’s Day is learning how to receive anew the gift of fatherhood and then rejoicing in the father God has given you.


Father’s Day begins and ends with Jesus.  He is the faithful Son who brings you into the loving family of His Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus “turns the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” (Mal 4:6).  Or the way the text says it:  “Children, obey your fathers in the Lord for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother … Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”


In the Name of Jesus.



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