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Synopsis of Today’s Word for Christian Fathers
Good and joyful morning to all Christian brothers and sisters, on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or milk, or tea, or whatever is your favorite…… We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life…. The word of God.
And today’s two slices come from…….. first…. KJV – Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Take note…. The bible does not say raise up a child…. It says, train up a child. You raise tomatoes, you raise peas, you raise roses ….. but, you train a child. The definition of train….. “to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of a child”
And the second slice…. TLB—Ephesians 6:4 And now a word to you fathers. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the lord.
Longfellow wrote…. “A torn jacket is soon mended. But, hard words bruise the heart of a child.”
A. Mann (that’s his name) wrote…. “When a child can be brought to tears… not from fear of punishment, but from repentance for his offense… he needs no chastisement….”
Fathers….you may, with a word of encouragement, drive away the very thing from your child that you are most worried about. Let me repeat that……. You may, with a word of encouragement, drive away the very thing from your child that you are most worried about. Let me say it this way, give encouragement to your children while your hair is dark and hear them spoken back to you when your hair is gray.
From the poet, Goethe… Correction does much, but encouragement does more, – encouragement after criticism is as the sun after a shower.
Let me read to you some thoughts of children……
• When you thought i wasn’t looking— I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and i immediately wanter to paint another one.
• When you thought i wasn’t looking— I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and trust in.
• When you thought I wasn’t looking— I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it is alright to cry.
In the days of old….. to introduce boys to the wisdom of the fathers, boys went through initiation rites. And when there were no formal initiation rites, we invent them. Or we stumbled upon them, ……like war. War has been an initiation rite, especially in this century, for many. I’ve heard people say, “The army made a man out of him.” and what they were talking about was some young man who was self-absorbed, or was confused or rebellious who joined the military and his life was changed. He grew up. The military made a man out of him. And it made a man out of him because it taught him that life is hard, and some day you are going to die, and you are not all that important.
Young fathers….. Hear me….. For the Jews, the “fathers in their generation” meant the heritage, the tradition they passed on to their children. The father in the family was simply the latest in the long line of fathers that extended all the way, 4000 years now, back to Abraham. And the father’s purpose in the family was to represent that whole tradition to his children. This is the way it worked. The immediate image before the child was the image of that child’s own father, and therefore the image of an inadequate, frail, and flawed human being. So the wise father called in help. He presented to his children not just himself, but the “fathers in their generation” as well. That is to say, he told the stories of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and joseph, of David and Gideon, and the prophets and all the heroes of the faith. The Jewish father told their stories so that their image, their lives would be before the children, as well as his own life.
The patriarchs, and the kings and the heroes. All of them had frailties. The fathers of the faith were all imperfect men. They all had faults, they were all sinners. Because in biblical faith the model is not perfection. The model is wisdom. The heroes in the bible, not one of them, is perfect. They have become wise, however, by learning the lessons of the fathers in their generation–that life is hard, and they are not all that important, and someday they are going to die. And most important, that they are part of something much bigger than themselves.
I read an analysis of a change in our culture back in the 60’s.The old certainties were being questioned, the old institutions challenged or neglected. I read that for the first time in history, …… just one generation ago, it was said that fathers no longer had anything to give to the children. What a sad statement. The reference was in large part to vocation. It recognized the fathers traditionally taught the sons the business that the fathers were in, so the sons could enter that business. Or they paved the way for them by giving them advice on how to get along in the world.
But since the 60’s the world has changed. And that meant the children were going into a world that the parents knew nothing about, and into vocations that never existed before. And thus the fathers had nothing to give to the children. That may have been true; but there is something even deeper than that. What was not being passed on to the children as well was a spiritual heritage. Which is why, I suspect, there are so many middle-aged men searching for spirituality in their lives today.
I can’t help but mention that at the same time in the 60’s church patterns changed. Suburbia created the pattern that exists to this day in churches: parents and children no longer go to church together.
Children are dropped off at Sunday School, parents go to church. But it’s in church, in worship, that the heritage is rehearsed and celebrated. Year after year, Sunday after Sunday, week after week. Church is where a father or a mother can get help from “the fathers.” Sometimes a mother has to be both a mother and a father; but that’s not a new phenomenon. That’s always been true in history. But in the past, if the children didn’t have a father in the home, they still had fathers in the heritage, and they were exposed to the images of adults who were on the same journey that they were on, and who learned wisdom on that journey.
Some people object to the presence of children in the church. They say, the kids think its boring. I think that our generation must be the only generation in the history of the planet where parents consult their children on how to raise them.
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