Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; June 18, 2017; Father’s Day

Scripture for June 18, 2017, Father’s Day is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is found in Luke 15:11-32. You can read it here {Click Me}

In either case we will celebrate the role of Fathers in our lives.

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I have yet to meet a young person who does not have a sense of adventure, who does not have dreams and hopes. In the musical The Fantasticks there is a song titled “I Can See.”

That song superimposes two points of view:

1. A young man (Matt) who is pining for adventure and independence.

2. A bandit (El Gallo) who has been broken by adventure and would like to live a “boring” life, but does not know how to reinvent himself.

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Matt: Beyond that road lies a shining world.

El Gallo: Beyond that road lies despair.

Matt: Beyond that road lies a world that’s gleaming.

El Gallo: People who are scheming.

Matt: Beauty! El Gallo: Hunger!

Matt: Glory! El Gallo: Sorrow!

Matt: Never a pain or care.

El Gallo: He’s liable to find a couple of surprises there.

El Gallo: There’s a song he must sing; It’s a well-known song. But the tune is bitter And it doesn’t take long to learn!

Matt: I can learn!

That pretty little world that beams so bright.

That pretty little world that seems delightful

El Gallo: Can burn! Burn! Burn!

Matt: Let me learn! Let me learn!

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Today is Father’s Day.

As I was praying in preparation for today, the Parable of the Prodigal Son came to mind. One interpretation of this parable parallels the Father’s love and acceptance to God’s Grace for his human children.

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It is also a story that contrasts productive and unproductive behaviors, appropriate and inappropriate attitudes and actions. It is also a story that asserts that theory without personal experience results in a polarized view of the world, it results in a worldview that thrives on extremes, it sees black and white and totally misses the shades of gray in between.

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As I felt God tugging on my soul, a different question gelled in my mind, “In what ways would the two brothers from today’s parable be different as fathers and mentors?” Or to put it another way, “What are the personal traits of character that the father possesses that produce a lasting positive effect in future generations of his family?”

There is a TV show Who Do You Think You Are? on TLC. It guides some well-known names in American popular culture as they research their ancestry and discover unknown details about their family history.

Watching this show we learn a lot about history, and we discover fascinating real-life stories and eye-opening, impactful revelations from generations back. We see how our familial history affects who we are today.

Episode after episode shows how a particular man or woman instilled a sense of what is right, true and beautiful into their children, and how these values traveled through generations into the present day. We see examples of perseverance, optimism, faith, devotion, working towards a better education, hardship, travel across the oceans into the new world, travel across the continent to settle the wild-wild-west, just to name a few.

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What would a person learn if he or she were to discover that they are a descendant of the Prodigal Son? What would a person learn if he or she were to discover that they are a descendant of the other brother? How would their perspectives change on their lives in the present?

The Prodigal Son started in a place of selfish egotism, but through hardship he eventually learned the values of hard work, perseverance, resilience, and humility. The Prodigal Son’s journey (assuming that he learned from it) is truly a Journey Towards Perfection and his parenting style would reflect this journey.

In the Fantasticks, the character of Matt started out hoping to find a “shining world that is gleaming,” looking for beauty and glory. Instead he found despair, people who were using him, he was hungry, he was homeless, and he discovered that listening to his good old Dad may not have been such a bad idea. We watched Matt grow up.

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Our world is full of young men and women who want to see a “shiny world that is gleaming.” They hope that their lives will reflect beauty and glory of the Creation. It is called optimism, and it is a good thing because without it nothing would happen, and all young people would live in their parents’ basements forever.

Luckily they have an older generation that moderates their sharp edges by reminding them to be careful, helping them to regroup and process what they have learned after making mistakes. And that is where fathers and father-figures have a chance to shine.

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I am very aware that there is a reason why God made it necessary to have both a male and a female to create and nurture a new life. Fathers offer a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the development of their children. While single moms are capable of successfully raising their children (I am an illustration of that), we know that life works best when there is also a male role model, preferably fulfilled by the father present in the life of a child, as they grow, mature and discover their place in the world.

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Being a parent is a complicated business. It balances intimacy and distance, it involves order and chaos, it includes instilling safety and teaching how to take calculated and appropriate risks. Being a father means a need for immediacy, and patience to wait an extra moment to intervene or respond to a cry in a time of need. Being a parent involves appropriate distance so that children can learn problem-solving, patience, and self-reliance for themselves.

A huge part of being a father is about mirroring God’s movements in their life, as well as nurturing a child’s experiences and uniqueness. It is about the intimacy of care and mentoring, privacy and space for self-reflection (“have you thought about…”), self-reinvention (“what do you think you should do….”), and emotional growth. A huge part of being a father is helping children to imagine what they are capable of accomplishing and encouraging them to do that.

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Today, as we celebrate Father’s Day, I thank God for fathers and father-figures who persevered, changed diapers at 2 am, lived through their children’s rebellious phases, sat through recitals and school plays, slept with bugs during camping trips, who stood by their families and stood their ground under harsh circumstances and did a million other things to fulfill the office of fatherhood. I thank God for fathers who made a choice to love their families and their children. I thank God for fathers who made a choice and an effort to lovingly impart wisdom and the knowledge of God, teach the value of work, the need for integrity, the courage to hope and to dream, and who did it selflessly and with love.

So, Happy Father’s Day!

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