Father’s Day 2018
June 17, 2018
St. Jacob’s and Trinity Lutheran Churches
Rev. Kirk Shipley, Interim Pastor
Happy Father’s Day! Welcome to traditionally one of the less attended services in this country, along with the first Sunday after Christmas, Memorial and Labor Day weekends. It is the opposite of Mother’s Day, which is one of the most attended services along with Christmas Eve and Easter. It is really good to see you this morning.
Worship attendance is not the only place fatherhood has taken a hit. When I lived in Cleveland the main drive to work radio station asked listeners to call in tell them who their favorite television fathers were. Most of the fathers came from late 1950’s to early 1960’s television series: Hugh Beaumont as Ward Cleaver on ‘Leave it to Beaver’, Robert Young as the father on ‘Father Knows Best’, Fred McMurray as the father on ‘My Three Sons”, and Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright on ‘Bonanza’. The announcer came up with Tom Bosley as Mr. Cunningham on ‘Happy Days’. Some noted more recent fathers who were aware of what was occurring like those on ‘Family Matters; and ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’. They were pressed as the dominant images were more in line with cartoon Homer Simpson of ‘the Simpsons’. At the time many of the later dads seemed to be portrayed as one of the last people a young person would want to talk to for wisdom if they had a problem. It was not a fear of the possibility of punishment, rather it was knowing they were living with someone who was incredibly naive or an idiot.
While television and movie trends both impact and reflect shifts in what many see is a desired state at a particular era, God provides what it means to be a sound human being in life roles and responsibilities, including that of father. This morning as you have heard I have gone to the nativity narrative from Matthew which focuses on Joseph which provides a solid foundation for what it is to be a father.
One of the first things I notice about Joseph is he is both cognizant of both civic place and the people who are close to him. Joseph is concerned about the community functioning as God desires. He is a righteous man and when he learns Mary is pregnant he knows the order for community and family life is violated. He cannot be party to that. I suspect his sense of personal worth is also violated. He has lived right and he wants a similar wife. Joseph is going to break their engagement and sign the divorce papers. Also, Joseph is concerned for her, so he is going to do this quietly instead of bringing a public charge and opening her to early public shame and even possible stoning. Joseph is keeps the community good and the personal good in balance.
He reminds of my father who generally sided with the adult system. I have always said that I’d rather the school discipline me and my father be kept in the dark. In high school I had turned in a major assignment but had not signed it and the teacher treated it as not turned in. My father contacted her and they had a long discussion. I’ll never know if she treated it as turned in, but I do know it was not part of the grade calculation since my average in that class was not affected. figured it into my grade, but I do not it did not detract.
Just as important Joseph is open to new information and willing to listen to God. God tells Joseph things are not what they seem. The Lord tells Joseph, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Joseph acts on this clarification from God.
Not only that but Joseph is willing to delay his own gratification to honor what is taking place in this pregnancy. Mary is a vessel for God’s work for people. Joseph “had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.” From the latter half of the Vietnam war era to the present we’ve lived in a time of near instant gratification in almost every arena in life. God’s plan is more important.
After Jesus birth Joseph becomes a protector for his family. He shows this two ways. He continues to be open to listening to God. Some time after the Magi visit, Joseph is warned by an angel of the Lord in a dream to flee to Egypt to escape the jealousy King Herod has over the baby Jesus. Joseph flees. He listens when an angel tells him Herod is dead and he should return to Israel.
Joseph uses his own God given ability to analyze the world around him and listen to his own gut. Joseph returns to Israel but does not enter Judea. He sizes up who is ruling there, Archaleaus, and decides not to settle in territory ruled by that son of Herod. In a dream his fears are processed and he moves the family to an obscure town in Galilee. The town is Jewish, but was in a split kingdom of Galilee and Perea, lands to the north and east of Judea. Though these lands were ruled by Herod’s son Herod Anitpas, Nazareth was not on major routes to his Galilean capital Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee and farther from his Perean capital Livias.
God’s written Word shows some of the things it means to be a father through Joseph.
Balancing community and family needs.
Being attentive to God and open to new information
Delaying one’s gratification for more important interests.
Protecting one’s family from evil by
- listening to God.
- personal awareness.
This Father’s Day give thanks that in a nation that moves between the extremes of the full focus on work to the more often irrelevant Homer Simpson that God provides us examples of what it means to be a father through men like Joseph and others in Scripture and human history.
Again have a most blessed Father’s Day through God the Father. AMEN.