Today we celebrate Father’s Day and I wish all fathers well in their continuing journey of raising their children – it is, after all, a life sentence.
Father figures are important. For some, God as “father” brings to mind images and memories of power over – domineering – unchallenged assumptions, even abuse – to the point where we acknowledge that on Father’s Day, while many are given the opportunity to express gratitude for their fathers, others are presented with an often unwanted opportunity, or obligation, to continue to work at understanding, healing and forgiving,
which admittedly can take many years.
We have a strong tradition of calling God “father”. This is rooted in Jesus’ reference to God as His Father. Jesus calling God “father” was not meant as a literal image but to convey/express the love and accessibility of God – the care and protection a good father would provide. It was an image, which would have been well known by his first listeners, and it was obviously a very welcome contrast to the concept of God as a disciplinarian.
John Inge, the Bishop of Winchester of the Church of England, in an article about the importance of celebrating Father’s Day for the Church, said this:
“I have always believed in my head that God loves me unconditionally but it was only when I became a father myself that I began to understand it with my heart. From the moment when I first set eyes on my first child, now aged ten, my love for her was so immediate and strong that I would have done anything to protect her—and still would. And that set me wondering about the love of God: if I, with all my faults, could love like that, then maybe I could understand in a new way how it is possible for God to love me like this.
I have never known a love quite like the love of being a father and I rejoice in the great gift of fatherhood. I rejoice in it because of my children, to whom I am devoted. But I also rejoice in it because it helps me to understand more profoundly how God loves me, and how nothing can separate me from that love. Let’s celebrate Father’s day in our churches, honoring those fathers who have shown us something of God’s love, praying for fathers to be given strength in their crucial role and remembering that God, who is our Father in heaven, loves us more than we can grasp.”
Today I wish to thank Deacon Wil Johnson, who has been with us for almost three years and with me for almost two. I know he has been a father figure to me during our time together at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and Diocesan Shrine and I know you all have come to know him and love him as I do. It is with a heavy heart that as I write this blurb I have to inform you, on this Father’s Day, that Deacon Wil shall be
leaving us at the end of July to continue his fatherly role with his daughter and his grandchildren in Tennessee. I will miss him greatly, as I know you will too, but I also know that he will be with us in spirit as we seek to move forward as a family of faith, guided as we have been and always will be by our heavenly Father. May God’s blessings be with you, Deacon Wil and (your wife) Linda. Know of our prayers and gratitude for all you have given us and may the Lord be with you as you continue to show a father’s love and the love of the Father to your