Father's Day Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Father's Day

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Celebrated worldwide, Father's Day is a secular holiday centered on gratitude to fathers.

In Scripture

"Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you" (Ex. 20:12).

"As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him" (Ps. 103:13).

"My child, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights" (Prov. 3:11 - 12).

"Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray" (Prov. 22:6).

"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. . . . How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? . . . My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath" (Hos. 11:1 - 4, 8 - 9).

"Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:11 - 13).

"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends" (1 Cor. 13:4 - 8).

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. `Honor 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" (Eph. 6:1 - 4).

"Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart" (Col. 3:21).

Points to Ponder

St. Joseph's Day A special day to honor fathers has been a staple of many Catholic countries in Europe since the Middle Ages. Ironically, the day chosen, St. Joseph's Day, honored a saint that Christians say had only a supervisory role in Jesus's life. According to the Apostles' Creed, Jesus's actual father was the Holy Spirit.

Seventy-five countries, including the United States, celebrate Father's Day on the third Sunday of June. On that day, fathers often receive favorable mention in congregational prayers and Sunday sermons. Their children may present gifts such as neckties, sweaters, or golf gloves Until roughly the mid-1960s, Father's Day gifts often included pipes, tobacco, and smoking jackets. The country has since moved on.

The Scriptures assume that "honoring your father and mother" will contribute to flourishing. When family life is well ordered, everybody tends to do well. Children defer to their parents, who are in turn kind to their children. Mutual respect and courtesy reign over all.

Clear boundaries and unconditional love The recipe for good fathering will have cultural variants. But some common items have become well known. Good fathers and mothers have some combination of clear boundaries for their children (you may go this far and no farther) and unconditional love. Children understand that nothing they do will make their Dad love them less and nothing they do will make him love them more. He is unflinching about his expectations for them and enthusiastic in his love for them. Children tend to thrive in such a regime. They know where the boundaries are and they feel nourished by the love. Even children who are only months old need a loving face or two over their crib.

Pastorally sensitive preachers will be mindful on Father's Day that some congregants have had difficult fathers. In fact, they will know that twice Paul warns fathers not to "provoke" their children — as if such provocation is a clear and present danger. A bad dad can do lifetime damage. He may be absent, or emotionally absent, signaling that his children don't mean much to him. He may abuse his children or resent them. Some fathers show a kind of disrespect their children struggle for years to overcome. Bad dads say things like this: "Why can't you be more like your brother?" or "You're an idiot," or "You've never amounted to anything and never will."

Good fathers, by contrast, spend time with and lavish attention on their children. They play with them, read to them, hug them, take walks with them, strive to understand them, go to their games, rejoice with them, weep with them. They wear a look of unbreakable kindness. Everything about them says to their children, "I love you and always will." Such treatment becomes a legacy to children, who when they come of age and have children of their own, instinctively know how to treat them. Their Dad taught them how to be a good parent simply by being one himself.

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.