6/18/05, "Father's Day"
“There Is a New Creation”
(6) "We are always confident... (7) for we walk by faith, not by sight. (10) For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done. (14) For the love of Christ urges us on, for we are convinced that one has died for all. (17) So if anyone is in Christ there is a new creation." (II Corinthians 5, NRSV)
t is not entirely by accident that our American recognition of Father's Day is held on the same day that we preachers of Methodism often rotate to another flock. Around our connection we have settled on this one half of the year pay period, and mid summer moving time, to ease the burden for our families. Not too many years ago those moving had to do so in December. This was harder on families.
I think of the pastors that I knew as a child and cannot help but think of them as father figures. My Dad was a pastor and I think I must have thought of him as "God the Father.” Most of those that I thought of as pastors were the traveling Evangelists who came to preach for our local church revivals. These great preachers became Father figures to me.
Charlie Wireman was one of those father figures. He had been a real live cowboy in untamed Texas and Montana. Before he became a "new creation through the atoning death of Christ” he had rustled cattle, and had participated in other crimes. He would tell his spellbound congregations these stories to illustrate to them that even a criminal, albeit a cowboy criminal, could become a new person through life changing faith in Christ.
Later in life, when my youth rebellion was wearing thin, the Lord Jesus started convicting me of my college frat boy sins and I just knew internally that if Charlie Wireman could be forgiven and made new then it would work for Bobby too.
I have learned over the years that young people who do know role models of life changing faith seldom have their life changed. All of us depend on what we have experienced to set the tone for our life and its formation.
An assumption of modern life is that we are the product of our homes and that the apple does not fall far from the tree. We become like our parents and those other adults that we know, good or bad. You can sit in a Youth/Parents meeting and soon discern which kids belong to which parents. Not only do they look and talk alike, they behave alike too: Thirty years later you would see that same family resemblance.
Our front line of influence is in the Christian home where children are formed for good are bad. One reason that Father’s Day and Mother’s Day were started was to encourage families to intentionally do their best to rear children in a Christian lifestyle.
When we recall our Pastor’s guidance at our pre-marital conference, did the minister not point out that a marriage becomes a Christian marriage when we allow our Heavenly Father into the very core of the relationship? We pray to Him whenever we sit down to a meal or begin a family vacation trip. Whenever there are problems in our homes we were encouraged to pray together as parents and children. It is our Father in heaven that bonds us together and makes our home a Christian Home where children naturally become children of God through His Grace.
Thus, our fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles become teachers and evangelists. We bend the twig so that the adult tree will be straight. It is a priestly responsibility of Christian families. The home is the incubator in which Christian adults are most often formed. The Father and Mothers are evangelists in the home where they are the primary role models as teachers and ministers. The church shares in the teaching of the Scripture so that children’s hearts can be challenged by the beautiful stories and truths of the Christian life. The basic moral convictions of life are internalized by children as they see high moral principles are demonstrated by parents. This is the heart and life of the world of Christendom.
Also, through being the chief piper of grace in the local church, the Pastor takes on a Fatherly role with all ages. Roman Catholics call their pastor, “Father.” This is a way of showing respect, but also a way of being reminded of the significant role the Church plays in the Christian education and evangelism of the people. Our Vacation Bible School this past week was a wonderful example of Christian training. Our recent Confirmation Classes and the many Youth Retreats were also times of intense training. Working with our families, Dads and Moms, our young people have a wonderful conduit of Grace.
Our youth have been brought to a spiritual maturity where they can understand and experience today’s text clearly and we are so proud of them. They have a spiritual “confidence” (v, 6) that can only result from a direct relationship with Christ. They know about “walking by faith” (v.7) from a personal experience of living a Christian life in a large and challenging public school setting. They have learned about the assurance and have experienced the “love of Christ that urges them to grow spiritually.” (v.14) They understand that Christ has made the way for their salvation and in our group Christian environment they have accepted Christ as their Lord, and they have become a “New Creation.” (v.17) All of this is happening in partnership with the Christian Homes of our church. Our Fathers and Mothers are smiling broadly.
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor