June 21, 2020, Loving Fathers, Loving Children, Pastor David Tatgenhorst
Matthew 10: 26-31 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[e] 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
We take a moment now to breathe in the Spirit, to settle our minds so we can hear what the Spirit is saying to us today, to let go of our fears and be ready to act with courage as disciples of the Living God.
June 21, 2020 Loving Fathers Loving Children St. Luke UMC
My son Elijah is going to be 25 years old on Saturday. I can hardly believe it. Some of you remember when I came here, he was just a baby. I love that boy. I was so pleased that he did that little Fathers’ Day video with me. That was a special Fathers’ Day treat.
My father always encouraged me to be a dad. He said it was the best thing he ever did - having 4 boys.
Sometimes I wondered if he didn’t have some regrets on some days. But then I did become a dad and I realized that even on those days that are hard, - and there were some days that were hard, there were plenty of days that were hard - even on those days, I don’t regret being a dad at all. I love my son and I love being his dad.
I will never forget the first time I got to hold him in my arms. I will never forget walking up and down the hall with him in the middle of the night trying to help him (and me) get back to sleep. I will never regret the days I spent with him throwing a baseball and encouraging him. I don’t regret those best days and I don’t regret the hard ones. And I will never regret pouring love into this guy who is now a young man.
The hard days were the days when I had no idea what to do, when I was looking for the instruction manual and couldn’t find it. The regrets I do have are for those times when I didn’t know what to do. the times when I was pretty sure something more was needed, but I didn’t know what.
When I look back on those times, they mostly fall into a category of wishing I could somehow have been both more tough and more loving at the same time. I was pretty consistent on the loving part, but the part of holding the line and setting limits, that was harder.
I’m guessing that’s true for a lot of Dads, that for all of us our tendency is to be a little timid in our loving - or rigid in our toughness. It may be why Jesus emphasizes over and over, “Do not be afraid.” as in our passage for this morning. This passage seems particularly strong though, “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body, but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul.”
The passage, I’m pretty sure, is an encouragement to the early Christians in Matthew’s community who are confronting the oppression and intolerance of the Roman empire. Matthew invites the people of his community to be fearless disciples of Jesus. He invites them to a new level of courage, a courage to face every fear, even the fear of death as they confront their enemies.
Most of the fears we in this community face may not seem to rise to this level of confronting enemies or confronting our fears of death, but the truth is that all of our fears derive from our fear of death. When we confront our fear of death, when we take on the courage of being disciples of the Living God in Christ, we can face almost any fear.
And for at least some dads, that fear really is a fear of death. I can’t help but think about ‘the talk’ that parents of Black sons have to have with their boys. Wanting them to come home alive, parents of Black sons over the age of about 8 have to have the talk to encourage their sons to always show their hands, to be extremely polite, and to do whatever they are told by the police.
I’ve seen it suggested recently that all parents need to consider having the talk with their children - to help our young people know how race and racism works in our society. The suggestion is that we all need to understand the fears that some families face. What if we all take some responsibility for facing those fears for and with each other? It’s a wrenching thing to have to talk about, to teach our innocent young people that some of their lives may be at risk just because of the color of their skin. We hate to have to tell them that the world is that broken.
I never had that talk with my son. His life was not at risk because, though he is biracial, his skin is fair. He is very upset though to realize how broken the world is and he identifies with his brothers and sisters who bear the brunt of our racism. I have tried to bring him up to have the courage to stand with his friends, to challenge their fears, to know that there are worse things than death.
As with the early Christian disciples, we know that Christ gives us the courage to challenge any system that does not respect our humanity, that does not treat us with dignity because of our religion or our race. I am proud of the young people in our congregation - every one of them growing and learning and becoming good hearted people. I am proud of our dads, who love their children with unwavering love, helping them to become those good hearted courageous people who will help this world become the beautiful, wonderful world we envision.
God challenged every fear in and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s son took on death and conquered that fear and conquered death itself, so that we all might have the courage to live toward a world where no one has to have ‘the talk’ with their kids. May all of us dads, may all of us adults, may all of us followers of Christ take on that courage to be real disciples, to be the good news that makes this a truly wonderful world.
Responsive hymn video of What a Wonderful World by ‘Playing for Change”