Happy birthday to Mark and Andrew our twin sons. One admirable quality they both share is that of being good fathers to four of our grandchildren. Double congratulations to them.
This day is not straightforward for various reasons. Not everybody has had a good experience of fathers and father figures. There may be regrets and reservations, the ‘if only’s’ of life. For some it is too late to say or unsay, to do or undo. But many know that today can be a positive appreciation of someone who ‘did their best’.
The gospel reading set by the lectionary is found in Matthew ch. 10. It includes these verses ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet without your Father’s knowledge not one of them can fall to the ground. As for you, even the hairs of your head have been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than any number of sparrows.’
Worth and value. It is so easy for people to feel worthless of no use or value. These words of Jesus remind us that this is not how God sees us, however bad we feel about ourselves. Here is the classic dilemma of head and heart. One says ‘yes -I believe that’. But the heart feels ‘no, I’m useless, no good’. As most of us know feelings usually trump our beliefs/thoughts.
Which brings me back to my opening remark praising our sons. They use words of course but they also show, they do. Their words of affirmation are backed up by the things they do. In the same way Christians will want to affirm the worth and value of every other human being on the planet in all their diversity and difference. That affirmation cannot be mere theory, it involves how we act, nor, surely, can there be exceptions.
The central idea of today’s gospel reading is ‘the Fatherhood of God’. It follows that we are therefore ‘brothers and sisters’, all of equal worth and value. This is based on God as creator and chimes in with the undefined ‘as for you’-not addressed to the ‘chosen few’ or those who had ‘signed on the dotted line’.
Why does Jesus say, ‘so do not be afraid’? Afraid of what? One suggestion would be, afraid on two fronts, inwardly and outwardly. That insidious lack of self-worth that afflicts so many, and then outwardly with those people who dismiss you -too old/young; too educated/uneducated; too black/white/brown/yellow; too posh/common etc etc. This is before we start on other differences of gender, sexuality, political views, income, lifestyle, let alone beliefs and religion. Surely every single one of us has experienced that dismissal/rejection simply because we are who we are.
Listen again, ‘do not be afraid you are worth more than any number of sparrows’; and so is everyone else. Does God have favourite children? A stupid question? What answer do we give? One challenge of Father’s Day is to both believe and to act as if every other person is a sister or brother. If everybody did that, we would not need to be afraid.
Thank God for fathers!
We pray that love and wisdom may be their guiding light
as they nurture and guide the next generations.
Nurturing God, thank you for those who have nurtured us. Open our eyes to the plight of so many fathers and mothers around the world for whom life is difficult. Help us share your love and mercy with them.
Mother Father God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
(Source: Worship Words)