On Sunday people throughout United States will celebrate Father’s Day. Although Mother’s Day was being celebrated as early as the late 1870s, it wasn’t until 1910 that Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington, arranged to honor her father. People across the country were beginning to celebrate “fathers” and Mrs. Dodd worked toward making it a regular observance. Even though churches and organizations such as the YWCA and YMCA supported the idea, the concept was met with derision, ridicule, and laughter by newspapers, journalists, and the general populace.
In 1913, however, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives designating the first Sunday in June as Father’s Day. President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea in 1924, but it wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation making the third Sunday in June an official national holiday. Since that time Father’s Day has also become a retail holiday, a good excuse to buy big-ticket items and support the national economy!
Some of us will celebrate our fathers by memory, having lost them to death at some point recently or in the past. Most will spend the day with their father or visit by phone, reminiscing about years past and honoring him for all he has done. Those of us who are blessed to have good memories of our fathers celebrate his involvement in our lives. Though not perfect, our fathers were role models, showing a positive work ethic, compassion and love for others, and other positive examples. Most importantly, a good father lays the groundwork for faith in our lives by showing us an example of God’s care for us.
Others of us, unfortunately, will avoid the holiday altogether, either because they never knew their father or because the example he provided wasn’t one to cherish. The example they saw was not one to be repeated. This article, though addressed to everyone, is mainly addressed to you, so you can know that you do have a Father you can celebrate, one who cares for you deeply.
Although it is true that God has no gender, and it is no longer politically correct to use the term “father” to refer to God, the Bible does refer to God as Father. Whether because it was a patriarchal culture or to express certain attributes of God, even Jesus, when teaching His disciples to pray, started out, “Our Father in heaven.”
Genesis portrays God as the creator of all humanity. He created Adam and Eve, spent time with them and provided for them, even after they fell from grace (Genesis 1-3). The prophet Hosea records God’s care for the people of Israel, stating “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” God provided for Israel, both through direct provision and through discipline when they were wandering away. “Is this the way you repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” (Deuteronomy 32:6). The people also recognized God as their source and provider. “But now, O LORD, you are our Father, We are the clay, you are the potter; and are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
In the New Testament Jesus refers to God as His and our Father. Some of God’s fatherly attributes described there include
- Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:4).
- Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:8, also Luke 12:30).
- If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11).
- In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost (Matthew 18:14).
- Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:36).
- For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.[or adoption]. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15,16).
If you are not planning to celebrate your earthly father this week, you can know that the eternal Father, our God in heaven, is someone who cares for you and loves you, so much that He sent His own Son to the earth to die for you. When we place our faith in Jesus, we are adopted in to the family of God as His children, chosen by Him. You have someone who will always love you, who will always care for you, who will always provide what you need.
Whether or not you are planning to celebrate your earthly father, I hope you will take some time this Sunday to celebrate your heavenly Father. Before your cookout or planned activities, spend an little bit of time visiting our Father’s house. It doesn’t matter which church–although we would love to see you at Ebenezer!–we are all brothers and sisters in the same family. Join us as we worship the One who loves us, eternally.
Pastor Mary Kay Glunt