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Sermon and Liturgy for Father's Day - Year A
Hosea 11:1-4 and Ephesians 6:1-4, 10-12
"A Father's Love"


READING:  Hosea 11:1-4 and Ephesians 6:1-4, 10-12
SERMON :  "A Father's Love"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-fathsm.y-a 674

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.

   This sermon and liturgy is prepared for Father's Day and
   is not based on the RCL readings for this day.  Our
   tradition at St. Andrew's is to have a briefer than usual
   worship time and then to follow that service time with a
   congregational picnic.

   The Prayer of Invocation, Prayer of Dedication, and
   Benediction are taken and modified from John Maynard
   (maynard@SYMPAC.COM.AU) "Prayers and Litanies for Ordinary
   12" as sent to the PRCL-List, June 1999). 


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                  (* = please stand)

       
* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  With loving kindness God blesses our days.
P  By night God's song is with us.
L  O God, my God, you have multiplied your wondrous deeds.
P  We will proclaim and tell of them to all your people.

      
* INTROIT:  "Holy, Holy, Holy" (VU 315, verse 1)
    
       
* PRAYER OF INVOCATION:
Almighty God, through the power of Your Holy Spirit You enable us
to do and be more than we can think or imagine.  Come now, dwell
within our worship, and make us strong to do your work and will
and so bring you praise and glory through Christ our Lord.  AMEN.


* HYMN:  "Open My Eyes"                                  - VU 371
   

* HYMN:  "Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love"            - VU 593


* HYMN:  "This is My Father's World"                     - VU 296

   (substituting the above phrase where needed as a
   celebration of the Fatherhood of God - God's parenting
   always being the ideal model for our own)


A READING FROM HOSEA 11:1-4
   (NRSV) When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt
   I called my son.  The more I called them, the more they went
   from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering
   incense to idols.  Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I
   took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed
   them.  I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of
   love.  I was to them like those who lift infants to their
   cheeks.  I bent down to them and fed them.

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


A READING FROM EPHESIANS 6:1-4,10-12
   (NRSV)  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is
   right.  "Honour your father and mother"--this is the first
   commandment with a promise: "so that it may be well with you
   and you may live long on the earth."  And, fathers, do not
   provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the
   discipline and instruction of the Lord.

   Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his
   power.  Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be
   able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For our
   struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but
   against the rulers, against the authorities, against the
   cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual
   forces of evil in the heavenly places.

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


* HYMN: "Blessed Assurance"                              - VU 337


SERMON:  "A Father's Love"

   "Gracious God - bless now the words of my lips and the
   meditations of our hearts.  Breath your Spirit into us and
   grant that we may hear and in hearing be led in the way
   you  want us to go.  Amen.

Surfing the Internet a couple of weeks ago Charlene and I came
across the following item - it is called  Kids speak a different
language:

   Parents frequently make the mistake of thinking they speak
   the same language as their children. We see this kind of
   misunderstanding all the time when an American and an
   Englishman converse, for example. When Americans say
   "bonnet" they mean a kind of hat. When the English say
   "bonnet" they mean the hood of a car.

   The same is true when talking with your kids. At first it
   seems we're all speaking English but, on closer
   inspection, it becomes clear that kids and parents speak
   entirely different dialects. In the interest of better
   transgenerational communication, here are some key phrases
   and their translations. 

   "I don't have room to finish my hamburger."  Meaning: Your
   kid has eaten enough.

   "I don't have room to finish my fish."  Meaning: Your kid,
   who doesn't much like fish in the first place, figures
   she's eaten enough to satisfy you and still get dessert.

   "I don't have room to finish my dessert."  Meaning: Your
   child is sick and should be taken to the doctor ASAP.

   "I didn't do it."  Meaning: It hasn't been conclusively
   proven that I did it.

   "Frankie Smith is such a no-good rotten liar!"  Meaning:
   Expect a call from Frankie's parents.

   "Mom said it was okay."  Meaning: I'm going to ask Mom as
   soon as you say "yes."

   "Dad, can I have a dog?"  Meaning: Your kid wants a dog.

   "Dad, can I have a boa constrictor?"  Meaning: Your kid
   wants a dog, but figures asking for something really awful
   puts him in a better bargaining position.

I think that all parents can testify that their children do speak
a different language than they do - and it is one of the reasons
that it is HARD TO BRING UP CHILDREN - there are other reasons of
course - but I don't want to go into those today - rather I want
to speak to the parents who are here today - and especially to
the Fathers who are here - about some of the things we can do
make ourselves better parents.

IT is written in Proverbs 22:6 "Bring up a child in the way he
should go - and when he is old he will not soon depart from it".

That is a wonderful promise from God.  One that comes true time
and time again!

We love our kids - and treat them well and sometimes they turn away from us; 
- sometimes they journey on roads that we do not understand or approve of; 
but in the end - if our hearts are open - if the foundation is well laid - 
we see them return to us - as the Prodigal Son returned to his Father.

This is the record of things.  
If the door is open, they will normally pass through it.

I think part of the problem we have as parents is not that we
     have difficult children
or even that they speak a different language than we do 
    - though all this is very often true;
I think that part of the problem it is that we so often do not know 
    the way our kids should go
and even more importantly - even when we know the way  - we so often 
    fail to live it,
and so our kids become angry - and distant - alienated from us -
and from God.

So what is the way?

For the last few years there has been movement afoot in North
America called Promise Keepers.

It is a movement that is addressed to Men - to husbands and
fathers 
and that movement suggests very clearly that if we - as men -
actually live Godly lives
if we make and keep promises concerning 
   our relationship to the Lord,
   our relationships with other men
   and our relationships with our family
that if we actually commit ourselves to building strong biblical
marriages
   and really support the mission of our church with our time
   and our talent and our prayer
       and devote ourselves to demonstrating the love of Christ
       in our community and our world
          and live moral and virtuous lives based on scriptural
          principles
then the result will not only be the renewal of our lives as men
but the renewal of our families -of our churches and ultimately
of our world.

And it is working -- it is working - because the secret of all
successful marriages -- and of all successful parenting always
rests in two sets of hands  - in the hands of God
- and in our hands.

If those hands get linked together - the results are incredible.
Lives get changed.
Lives improve.
Families are healed....

We teach our children by example and not by any other way.
If we lead godly lives - then the odds are that they will lead
godly lives

But if we tell our children things like 
   - you should go to church until you are old enough to make
   your minds  and then drop them off at the Sunday School
   door (with or without their mother)
   the child figures out very quickly that we don't think that
   church - that God - is important and they will end up
   champing at the bit to accompany you on Sunday mornings to
   your yard sales, your golf games, your ball fields -or
   whatever it is that you do when you fail to worship God with
   them.

If you tell your child that honesty is important or that keeping
your promises is important
   and then brag about how you have cheated the government out
of few tax dollars
   - or, after promising that you will take them out on the
   weekend to a tournament or attend a celebration with them on
   a weekday evening - and then end up accepting instead a few
   hours of overtime at your plant instead
you drive them away from the path you want them to travel
because you yourself are not travelling it.

The best thing that we can do for our children
is for each one of us to personally get right with God and to
walk in the way of the Lord
the way that he showed us - with his prayers and his worship
the way he showed us - with his acceptance and his forgiveness
the way he showed us - with his reaching out to people to show
them love - to bring them healing -  and to teach them the truth.

I had our Lector today read from the Prophet Hosea because that
passage speaks of how God loves his children - his wayward
children - how despite all the evil that they did - he continued 
to lead them with cords of human kindness and ties of love - how
he continued to lift the yoke from their necks and bend down to
feed them.

It is powerful stuff - the love that God has for us - 
and that is the love
that is the way
that we are called to raise our children in.

But we can't do it - we can't be successful parents in the way
that God is a successful God - unless  we walk in the way that
God wants us to walk.

In Ephesians - and again in Colossians - Paul shares the word
that he received from the Lord concerning children and their
parents.  As we heard - he writes:

   "Children, obey your parents in the Lord - for this is
   right.  Honour your mother and father - which is the first
   commandment with a promise - that if may go right with you
   and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."  

Then he writes:
   "Fathers, do not provoke your children - do not exasperate
   your children - instead bring them up in the training and
   instruction of the Lord"

Whatever you may think of Paul - these last words are surely
inspired.

Do not provoke, do not exasperate your children 
   - do not break your promises to them  - do not neglect them 
   - or mindlessly indulge their every whim so that they lose
   all respect for you
instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the
Lord.....

There is a site on the Internet where Children, now adults, were
asked to describe the best thing that their father ever did for
them.  I would like to share a four of them with you before I end
off:

   From a lady called Nancy:  The best thing my dad ever did
   was read to me every evening before dinner.  He read to me
   the new National Geographic when it came in.  He read to
   me when he found a poem he liked. 

   From Cathy -- My Dad has done so many nice things - he
   coached my softball and soccer teams throughout my entire
   childhood, gave a love of learning, and always had
   unwavering faith in my abilities.  He is always there to
   listen whenever any of his kids have a problem.  The most
   recent nice thing was that when I moved across the country
   to attend graduate school, he took a week of work, drove
   across country in a rented van and was great company
   during the trip.

   From Robert - Dad was always there for us and helped us
   out of every situation we ever got into -- and he never
   threw it back in our faces or got angry about having to
   rescue us.  I once was desperately ill with mono and had
   to drive his car to the doctor's office.  On the way one
   of engine gaskets broke and all the oil drained out of the
   engine - but I kept driving because I was so sick.  Dad
   said he could follow the trail of oil down the road when
   he went to pick up the car.  But he never once yelled at
   me for destroying the car and making him buy a new engine.

   From Emma - when I was very young my dad's job took him to
   Paris for a few weeks.  It seemed like a lifetime to me at
   three years old - , but he sent me a postcard every day. 
   Thirty years later I still have them and they remind me of
   special I am to him.

What unites these stories from these four writers are  personal
care and loving attention - in the little things - and in the big
things.  

Suggestive isn't it of what we fathers - and grandfathers ought
to be about?  Suggestive too for mothers and grandmothers - and
for men and women everywhere.

How do we love our kids?

Whatever way we do -  it sure helps to love the Lord first
to love the Lord not in a dry stern doctrinal way
but in a liberating joyful personal manner.

That kind of love communicates itself to all around
it makes the light of God shine.

Love the Lord and, as Paul writes in the second portion of our
reading from the Letter to the Ephesians today:

   - be strong in the Lord and his mighty power
   - be strong in the Lord and his mighty power; put on,
   yourself - personally, put on the whole armour of God - so
   that you yourself can stand against the devil's schemes - for
   our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the
   powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of
   evil in the heavenly realms.

Parenting is never easy
being a father - or a mother - has incredible challenges -
incredible pains - as well as  incredible joys.
We can do no better thing for our children than personally
walking in the way we should go
so that we can bring them up in that way
and have the assurance that then, when they are old - they
themselves will not soon depart from it.

Blessed be the name of God.  Day by Day.  Day by Day.  Amen


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
Gathering in of prayer concerns and joys


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
Thank God for how he loves us 
how he sets the example of parenthood

We also thank you God today for our parents 
- especially for our fathers -
We pray that whether they are here with us still - or with you -
that you might bless them
   that you would forgive - as we forgive - any failings that they
   may have had or still have
   that you might bring to yourself and hallow all the good they did
   or do,
   and lead them in righteousness with cords of human kindness and
   ties of love now and forevermore.         

* Ask God that we might be better parents and set the example in
all things

We pray for the young people in our families
   for the young people in our community - 
for a good example from us
for the desire to walk in the way of blessedness.

Lastly we lift up this day those whom we thought of during this
worship time and those whose names were just now named by us

---- Intercessions taken from the sharing time ----

Bless, O God, each of us, and make us a blessing.  Bless indeed
your whole church - here and throughout the world.  We ask it
remembering your promise to us and according to your call upon
our lives - that call issued to us through Christ Jesus our Lord
and our brother - the one who taught us to pray as your family,
saying... OUR FATHER


* HYMN: "O Jesus I Have Promised"                        - VU 120


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all
stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow -
VU 541) and Prayer of Dedication

   O God, as Christ calls us, Your Spirit empowers us.  We
   accept Your charge to be His servants in the world. 
   Reconciled by Christ through love and acceptance, we seek
   to bring justice, Lord, and peace and goodwill to all whom
   we meet and pray for.  Accept our lives and these our
   gifts and use them for your glory.  We ask it in Christ's
   name. Amen


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Shall We Gather At The River"        - VU 710

       
* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now
   go forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people
   of God, the body of Christ.
                                 
                      
* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace; 
Remember the Lord's presence often 
and take strength from the knowledge 
that the One who calls and sends also sustains.   
May the Lord bless you as you walk the Way of Christ Jesus, 
in thought, word and deed.  
May His life be yours, now and always.  AMEN.


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                    - VU 964

   
copyright	- Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1999 - 2006
                please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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