It’s father’s day.
And if you are here and you are not a father – there is one thing I can guarantee you have had a father!
A piece of gratuitous information.
The Bible has some really bad models for fathersand many of us may feel we have had bad fathersand some of us feel we have been bad fathers
and we could dwell on all the negatives and the past wounds,
which need to be recognised,
or we could look at the few good models in the Bible and believe that this is what we can be and our children can be which I think is a better way to go.
It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
So why is this important this morning.
Well apart from it being father’s dayfathers you need to be encouraged in your role.
Secondly to remind all who are fathers that the living out of your fatherhood is perhaps the greatest call on your lives.
So here’s an outline of where we are going:
1 Joseph of Mary and Joseph
3 The waiting father
The first is Joseph the father of Jesus and we read so little about him but what we do read is extraordinary.
He comes to our attention as Mary’s fiancé and he’s faced with the shocking and embarrassing fact that Mary is pregnant – not with his child.
In her society and culture which is true in some middle eastern cultures still today, the penalty for her was death but we read that – ‘Joseph being a just man
or a righteous man, sought to protect her.’ And in protecting her protect the child within her.
Note: he was righteous or just, not self-righteous.
I have known fathers who were self-righteous, leaders in the church, in their judgement of others,but this is not the righteousness that Joseph had.
So he finds his fiancé pregnant what does he do.
He doesn’t want Mary harmed he doesn’t want her baby harmed.
And naturally at the same time he is anxious about losing face, and becoming a laughing stock, so in a brief moment he is going to break off the engagement to
save face, but in the meantime as he sleeps God encounters him in a dream, and he wakes up realizing that the child in Mary is of God and that maybe, just maybe his role as a man of God,
as a man who seems to have the heart of God, is to protect the child and the child’s mother.
So maybe true fatherhood recognises that all babies even those growing in secret in the womb are children of God and need protection from selfishness, convenience, gossip
condemnation, and the mob.
The baby, this child of God as are all babies’ children of God, needs a present father.
Mary needs protection.
Joseph takes responsibility and bears the distain of the community for such would be the gossip around Mary and the slurs in the street.
Maybe good fatherhood means staying and hanging in when it would be easier to walk away wiping ones hands and saying this is not by business.
Maybe true fatherhood is something bigger than my pride!
The next we hear of Joseph is when he has to go to Bethlehem for the census still not yet married to Mary and Mary obviously visibly pregnant
Joseph goes to all the trouble to take her with him.
Mary doesn’t have to go.
Only Joseph has to go back to his home village of Bethlehem.
Mary’s not from there.
She’s from Nazareth – she should stay there But Joseph takes her with him, because apart from him, apart from Joseph, there is nowhere she is safe,in a world of self-righteous males and religious bigots.
Who would no doubt have warned against support for her when her baby is due.
Her own family have been scandalised.
Where can she go in Nazareth – a town known for its strict adherence to the Bible as they knew it then.
What will happen if Joseph leaves her.
Her life and the babies life is in danger!
He can only do one thing take her on this arduous journey to Bethlehem.
Maybe true fathers are ones who never give up and put themselves out physically for the sake of those entrusted to them.
In Bethlehem, in his native town as a descendant of David he will be welcomed and accommodation will be provided and Mary, unknown, will be accepted as Joseph’s wife and afforded the care and protection and
wisdom of the local women who will assist her delivery of her baby.
Maybe true fathers ensure the safety and comfort of those in their care at cost to themselves.
Such was the man Jesus called dad.
Very much like the picture of God as a father in Hosea the portrayal of one who does all he can to ensure the safety and comfort and life of his childwho teaches him to walk, who embraces the child and draws the child with cords of affection only to be rejected by the child,and yet continues to love,continues to seek the good of the child and bestows infinite grace.
Who says – how can I give you up, my heart will not let me do it!
Maybe true father’s never give up even when their love is rejected which takes us to Jesus’ redefinition of God as Father.
Jesus redefines fatherhood in the story of the persistent or foolish father, the story we wrongly termed the prodigal son.
This is picture of a father who makes an absolute fool of himself,makes himself a laughing stock to the community in his outrageous and out of this world gracetowards both his children.
A father who humbles himself for the sake of his children.
It’s a picture of father hood our pride would not have us be a picture of God our self-righteousness will not allow.
That’s why we said the parable was about the prodigal or the rebellious son.
It’s not it’s a parable of what to a human way of thinking, is the ridiculousness of God,but in reality is the never giving upalways longingalways faithfulalways persistentalways trusting againnature of Godin which we see true fatherhood.
So true fatherhood is costly in terms of self-denial.It is costly in terms of grace.It is costly in terms of willingness to be humiliated and not minding.It is, life laying down goodness.It is, no matter where you have been or what you have done – I cannot give you up, persistence.It is that which recognises all life is from God and as such is precious and worthy of love.
And so may we be such fathers.And if we haven’t been, may we become.And men, may God bless you in all your fatherhood and may you be examples and beacons of light and life and hope.
For this is the heart of God and the heart of God is the model of all good fatherhood and motherhood.This one who loves so much that he denies himself and lays down his life that his children might have life.
Would you like to share in our purpose and mission? We believe that good relationships, open discussion and a genuine desire to seek God’s calling allows us to grow as people and a community together.