Our Fathers’ Day


3rd Sunday after Trinity, Proper 6 Year B


1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

2 Corinthians 5:6-10,[11-13],14-17

Mark 4:26-34


To all the Fathers, Happy Fathers’ day!

We will be looking at what it means to be a father and to call God, Father

Since I have been ordained, people that I don’t know have started calling me Father – which is a bit disconcerting, especially when they are an 80 year widow!

What is a father?  Well at one level it is a biological matter – please bear in mind that I did Greek not biology …

The ancients believed that the father provided the seed the spark of life– in Greek that’s sperma – which literally means seed – those who did biology will know what I mean

When we call God father we express the fact that the spark of life – that remarkable gift – comes from something before us – long before us

We heard in our Gospel reading:

The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how

This line of scripture sums up the extraordinary ability of the created world to grow- to multiply, develop and become more sophisticated ‘we know not how’

Growth is embodied in God’s creation

From the tiniest of mustard seeds

With what can we compare the kingdom of God?  It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Here we have some mustard seeds [click here] – see how small they are (1 mm diameter) – bear in mind that you came from something which is 0.05mm – a twentieth the size of that

This story of miraculous growth is my experience of being a father

One minute you’re being told you’re going to have a baby and then before you know it this is what you’ve got

[two sons come forward]

In our old Testament lesson

Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”

Yes they are!

Fathers plant the seeds from which the plant grows

Can you see something of the father in these two?

I hope so

What does that tell us about God the father?

That within us – as children of God – there is something of the Father – the seed from which we grow – the divine spark lies within each of us

Then when the children grow you have to decide how to discipline them

My father was brought up by a Victorian father – there was a lot of discipline and corporal punishment

He tried to make his son in his own image

My own father started in the same way – with a cane

Like this one – but with a split in it

But he gave it up – it wasn’t him and it certainly wasn’t doing us any good

He learned – as we all have to learn – that whilst it is the role of a father to make rules and set boundaries – the ultimate act of love is to let go

St Paul writes about how God gave up his power in order to get closer to humanity – to become human

Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

    did not regard equality with God

    as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

    taking the form of a slave,

    being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

    he humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

God humbled himself to become human

Becoming human means getting involved in the love business and that love has a cost – love entails sacrifice

In the ancient world there was no greater sacrifice than losing a son, especially the first born son – that is the story of Abraham and Isaac – that is the story of God the Father and Jesus the son

God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that those who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life…

It turns out that being a Father is not about Old testament discipline but about that New Testament sacrificial love

  • picking them up from parties at 2 o’clock in the morning,
  • taking an interest in dinosaurs even in late middle age
  • even listening to musical theatre in the car (she isn’t here)

Forgiving everything

Loving un-conditionally

Jesus taught us to think of God in terms of that intimacy

You will see we are surrounded by our prayer stations of the Lord’s Prayer

The first words of the Lord’s prayer express something profoundly important

“Our Father”

Father because we have that same intimacy

‘Our’ because our relationship with God is universal

Whoever our earthly father may be, “Our Father which art in heaven” binds us all with a common familial bond

Because we all have one father we are all brothers and sisters

Made new in our commonality in God

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

The message of Jesus is that we think about ourselves and God in a new way

That we think about God as our father in three ways

  • as the life giver whom we thank for our creation – “hallowed be his name”
  • the disciplinarian who let’s go and leaves free to make our own mistakes and “forgives us our trespasses” if and when we fail
  • the common denominator in everything we do, the origin of all, the eternal and everlasting

For thine is the Kingdom the Power and the Glory, for ever and ever.  Amen

Sermon delivered by Chris Hancock at St. Mary’s Headley, on Father’s Day, 17th June, 2018

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