Father’s Day, June 17, 2007

“Faith from our Fathers”
Galatians 2: 15-21

15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. 19For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. NRSV

e can learn a lot from the “Old Fellers.”

I had a wonderful Father. He taught me how to be a Christian man and a Pastor. I could have learned all I needed to know just from him, but other very helpful role models intersected my path.

Our North Georgia Annual Conference met in Athens this week and I was very much aware that a great aspect of this meeting of four-thousand souls is the family reunion nature of our fellowship. I made my rounds with my eyes open to old friends, especially former older close relations that I count in my heart as those persons who have helped me along my pilgrimage.

Dr. Gordon Thompson was my preaching professor at Emory. We became friends as time has passed. I dropped by to visit with him at Wesley Woods last week, but missed him. I will get back by: I need to sit and talk and listen. Dr. Thompson had written a book, like many of the retirees seem to do, however his book was about “Marie,” his dear wife.

Dr. Bill Mallard was so excited about church history that he turned almost all of toward a lifelong love for church history. Lots of times I hear myself spouting out the wisdom of my Spiritual Fathers and I am blessed by it, and a bit proud too.

These men, beyond my Father, are my Fathers in the Faith. One thing I look forward to at our North Georgia Annual Conference is seeing the men whom I have admired, and also having a few young sprouts catch up with me and act as though I might drop a word of friendship and wisdom.

I really felt the loss of so many preacher friends this past week. Our conference greatly missed the leadership of: Randall Williamson, Garnett Wilder and many others.  These friends helped me to chart a course through our maze of appointments to churches. It is appropriate that the new year of our conference falls on Father’s Day weekend. It is a more serious day to thank all of the giants who have helped us grow up.

America’s first Father's Day celebration was held on July 5, 1908 in Fairmont West Virginia.  It was celebrated as Sunday Morning worship at Central Methodist Church. In my mind the two themes that emerge today; one from the text concerning “Justification by Faith,” and the national day to recognized Father’s Day, do merge at the place where we recognize that the pure Protestant doctrine of “Salvation by Faith Alone,” is a cardinal truth that most of us have learned from our fathers. Much of what has been engraved upon our hearts about the Christian Faith, was conveyed to us as, “Faith from Our Fathers.”

Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant break from Rome.  As history has turned it seems that the right thing happened in this painful but necessary, act of defiance and call for reformation. Looking back on Martin Luther’s nailing his defying thesis to the doors of the Cathedral Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

The father of Methodism also struggled with the doctrine of “Salvation by Faith Alone.” As with most Anglican families did in England, three hundred years ago, all babies were Christened early on and the Anglican Church believed that the babies were made to be Christians by that sacramental act. Later there was a Confirmation time of ritualistic renewal, but Mr. Wesley came to understand that these Christened children needed an inward experience of salvation and assurance. At the leading of George Whitfield, Wesley defied the Anglican Church, of which Wesley was an ordained Priest, by preaching that everyone needs to experience Christ’s death as the means of grace.

Not everyone in England and America have come to break with Anglican churches, however none can not acknowledge the world-wide respect that Mr. Wesley and his Methodists receive around the world.     

Why don’t we Dads and Moms too, spend the rest of this day writing a list of the Moms and Dads who have significantly affected our lives, and then write them a thank-you note. Make a call, if you are fortunate enough to have a living father, and tell them how much they have meant to you. Share personally with them how well they represented the Christ, and how much their experience with Christ and His Church has meant to you.

These have, more often than not, been the ones who led us to faith in Christ.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
Father’s Day, June 17, 2007