O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Based on Ex. 20:12
Preached on June 17, 2018
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Honour your father and your mother.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Here we go again. Just like Mother’s Day. But this time it’s the honouring of father.
“Honour your father,” God says. For this is what HE wants. He didn’t just say love your father – though love is certainly included in honouring. He didn’t simply say respect your father – though respect is certainly included in honouring. God said – Honour – which is so much more – and something you are not commanded to do with everyone. Honour your father. Hold your dad up high, see him (with your mother) as the highest earthly gift that God has given you.
But why? Why Dad? Because your Dad was chosen by God to be given a very specific, very unique vocation called “fatherhood”. God put your Dad into the divine office of father. For you. The office God uses to give you life. To create and make you. Dad is not like everyone else. Not for you. For you he is dad.
It all began - when God put him into another vocation or office called “husband” – when he married your mother. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Male and female. Husband and wife. Life-makers. God’s holy, divine team through which He continues to create life. Create you. And when God sees these two – husband and wife - He blesses them saying, “Be fruitful and multiply” - because together – you are a life-making team – it’s not just good – This is very good. God had you in mind when He said that.
Of course, there’s more. God doesn’t just give you life through your father. Dad is still the Lord’s instrument. The Lord’s hands. The Lord’s mouth. He uses your Dad to give you blue jeans, fancy shoes, cheeseburgers, fries and slushies. Daily bread. Your bodily needs of daily life.
Dad taught you how to ride your bike. Fixed the flat tire. Took you fishing. Put the fear of God in your first boyfriend – and the next – and the next. Told you that he loved you. And have you looked at Dad’s backside? He’s forevermore got bleacher butt! Nervous at your graduation. Cried at your wedding. Proud as punch to be a grandfather. And now he forevermore spoils the grandkids. What joy God has given you in your life through your father.
Because Dad is God’s mask. The Lord hides behind Dad to give you your daily bread. Daily life. And so too your spiritual life! Dad carried you to the baptismal font so that you would be reborn of water and of the Spirit. To be called to faith in Jesus. To receive the Lord’s Triune Name and to be buried with Christ into His Good Friday death. You didn’t know how to pray, so Dad taught you the Lord’s Prayer. Now I Lay me down to Sleep. He brings you to Sunday School and the divine service. He makes sure you learn the Small Catechism and that you receive the Lord’s Supper in the way Jesus intended. For you he is that man from the parable who has sown in you the Lord’s seeds of eternal life. So that you are a Christian.
Fatherhood is holy work. Instituted by God. Used by God for the good of the whole world. Don’t ever let anyone mock you for being a father. Don’t ever say in shame: “I’m just a father.” JUST A FATHER? You’ve got to be kidding. Lift your heads high Dads. You are God’s instrument to do His work for your family.
No wonder then that the Fourth Commandment begins with the word “Honour.” Honour your father because there is a hidden majesty in the office of father. That hidden majesty is the Lord Himself! Dad in the office of father is the Lord’s representative. The ambassador of God.
How are you to honour your father? You speak differently to him. With affection. With high esteem. You act differently. With deference. With humility. With respect. With modesty. With obedience.
Here is where there must be repentance. I know how it goes. Children, especially, teenagers treat Dad as if he were their worst enemy. Dad can do nothing right. Say nothing right. All you see are his shortcomings. You yell at him. You stew over him. You complain. You do not honour him. You do not want to honour him for the office he has been given by the Lord. And so not only do you sin against Dad. You sin against the Lord who uses Dad as His instrument for your good in this life.
Admit it. Don’t deny it, instead, use Jesus and His Good Friday Blood to cover all your sin with His Word of forgiveness. He has mercy for you.
Dads, there must be repentance on your side as well. You too treat your kids as if they’re your worst enemies. You complain. You’re impatient. You’re too quick to anger. You don’t act like a little Christ but as a tyrant. You have violated and will buck your vocation of father, because it means faithfulness, commitment, hard work – in a way where you deny yourself in order to live for your children and your family.
But you don’t have to deny the truth – you too can admit your sin - for you have the same Jesus with the same forgiving Good Friday blood. I’m here to tell you today – children and Dads — “Your sins are forgiven.” You get a fresh start. God wants all things new. And so He declares it to you – this very morning. Jesus doesn’t leave you or any of your sins outside of His Good Friday forgiveness. You are forgiven.
So kids – and everyone – if your Dad is here I want you to take his hand – take your father’s hand – the very hand that the Lord works through – and everyone repeat this prayer after me:
Thank you for my Dad.
Thank you for using him.
Thank you for blessing him.
Thank you for forgiving him, and for forgiving me.
Help me to honour him.
And bless him forever.
In Jesus’ name,
Saved by the Lord’s forgiveness you can now go back home and live in peace with each other. As fathers and as children. In the family. Children – honouring your father. And fathers – doing the everyday and ordinary tasks of life. Fathering. Parenting. Whereby the Lord uses you as His hands and mouth to care for your children. To sacrifice yourself for your children. Living and working for them. For their benefit. For their well-being.
Dads – receive God’s blessing: May the Lord continue to use you men as His instruments for the good of your families, our congregation, and the communities in which we live. After all, fatherhood (besides being a husband) is the greatest work a man can do. The Lord has exalted this office together with motherhood above all other walks of life.
Therefore, “Honour your father.”
Happy Father’s Day!
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr