Father’s Day Blessings
June 15, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Today’s scripture reading is one of my favorite readings in all of the Bible. Someone once asked, “If you only were allowed to have one page from the Bible, which would it be?” And this would be mine, Matthew 7:7-11.
“Would any of you who are fathers or mothers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish? No, even you, being earthly parents, know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those that ask Him.”
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.
This morning is Father’s Day, and our title and our topic is “Father’s Day Blessings.” I would invite you to join me now and just close your eyes for a moment. Picture his face, the face of the one you call Dad, the face of the one who’s been like a dad to you. Picture him. Picture him smiling and fulfilled. And as you keep that picture in mind, send him blessings, won’t you? Think of a time that you spent together. Think of a time that was joyous and bright. Think of a time that you are grateful for and the memory that you are glad to carry in your heart all your life long. Think of that, won’t you? And silently say “Thanks, Dad.”
It’s Father’s Day, and it’s the day that we want to give thanks to that one that we call Dad or that’s been like a dad to us. The Lord Jesus had a special place in His heart for that term. Even from the cross, He called out, “Abba! Abba!” Father. Actually, that term, in the original language, is more like Daddy or Dad.
He was asked by His disciples to teach them how to pray. He told them, “When you pray, pray thus: Our Father, who art in heaven….” He came to show us that the love of God is not like the attitude of a judge, not a punisher, but more like a loving parent. That’s the Jesus way. That’s the way Jesus asked us to appreciate the Lord. And so we do. Each and every one of us has a royal heritage. Each and every one of us has our spiritual father in God.
Today, though, I want to talk about saying thanks for your own dad, for the one that is like a dad to you. And I’d like to do this by saying thanks to my dad. My father was a Polish immigrant. He had about an eighth grade education. He was a farmer. He worked at the General Motors plant in Linden. He wore a blue shirt and blue jeans and work shoes all of his life except when he went to church on Sunday, when he dressed up real good. My father gave me great gifts. In my remembering these, perhaps you’ll remember the gifts that your father gave to you.
I want to thank him today for giving me the gift of faith. He gave me the gift of faith by his example and his encouragement. No matter how busy our week was, no matter how much work he had to do, Sunday was for church, and we could depend on it. No matter how rough things got around the house, we were all united in our faith. He shared with me his personal faith, and he encouraged mine. My gift to him is to say, “Dad, my faith is alive and well to this day.”
I remember getting up with him early in the morning when he would prepare to go to work. It was before the sun rose. I’d come down to the kitchen after he’d awakened and been there a while. I can see him in the dim kitchen light, kneeling by the side of his chair at the table, his hands folded, his eyes closed, kneeling in prayer. They were long prayers. I don’t know exactly what they were, but I saw him every morning kneeling in prayer.
He’d get up from his place – I’d be sitting at the table, watching him – and I’d watch as he buttered the slice of rye bread that was his breakfast. As he stirred his coffee, I could hear the gentle ring of the spoon against the side of the cup as he stared straight ahead mixing his coffee and thinking ahead to his day. It was good to be with him in those early hours. I thank you, Dad, for the faith that was in your heart and for the faith that you gave me.
I also thank my dad for his encouragement and his love. I thank him for the love that was spelled in one particular way – t-i-m-e. Don’t children spell love t-i-m-e? It’s not easy, dads. I know it’s not easy. But it’s a priceless gift. And I’m thankful that in the midst of building houses and assembling cars and taking care of the house and earning money that you, Dad, spent time with me playing Monopoly on Sunday afternoons, trying to teach me to play pinochle – I never did understand, but it was awfully nice to have you around. Working with me on Cub Scout projects, we tried to assemble a bird whistle. It never really whistled, but at least we worked on it together. I am grateful for his time. I am grateful for the time on Sunday afternoons when he would lie in the hammock and I’d sit in the chair and he’d tell me stories about World War II, about driving the jeep in Germany and running from the fire of airplanes above while the general sat in the back. I wish I could hear those stories again. I wish I could record them and write down every detail. I am grateful for the t-i-m-e he blessed me with.
And third, I am grateful for the good word. Dad wasn’t a man of many words, but occasionally he would say a good word. He’d appreciate my music; he’d appreciate something I did. And I tell you, at 56 years old, I appreciate every one of those comments.
Perhaps it is so for you. Perhaps you’ve been blessed with a dad who took you to church, who blessed you with time, who shared a good word. If so, you are blessed indeed, my friend.
What shall we give to Dad this Father’s Day? I think the first and best thing we can give him is thanks, especially if he is here with us on this earthly plane. Give him thanks for the faith and the time and the loving words. Give him a word of thanks, won’t you? Send it to him in heaven, if that’s the situation, but say a word of thanks.
Let’s give Dad a gift of understanding, because sometimes Dad had to tear himself away to go work, or he just had to answer that phone call, or just had to be responsible in some other way when we really wanted him to be around. Let’s say, “That’s okay; I understand. It was another way of loving me.” Let’s give Dad the good word. Let’s give Dad understanding, for to understand all is to forgive all.
And let’s give Dad the gift that says, “Dad, my faith is intact. The seed you planted took root. I am a Christian. I love the Lord. We are together forever in our faith, and I thank you.” You see, my friends, all of these things spell love.
What shall we give our dads this Father’s Day? Dads, what shall we give our children? Oh, dear friend, give them love. Give them love. Give them love.
God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2008 Anthony J. Godlefski