Today is Father’s Day, and perhaps should be celebrated as a form of “Parent’s Day” since Mother’s Day is also celebrated as the “Festival of the Christian Home.” In today’s readings, Sarah and Abraham were informed, in style somewhat reflected thousands of years later by the Annunciation, that, unlikely as it seemed, they were to become parents.
Bible invites us to think of God in part as our Heavenly Parent. Jesus taught
us to pray to “Our Father which art in heaven.” Paul taught that the Holy Spirit within us
creates a parent/child relationship, and she “calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” as phrased in the New International Version, on our behalf. The paternal term
is meant to communicate relationship, not gender since God is neither female
nor male and is both feminine and masculine. Our Creator is our eternal Parent.
The Scriptures use both motherly and fatherly imagery to communicate that we
are the beloved children of God. Paul reminds us that our Heavenly Father
“proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for
us,”as the New Revised Standard Version says. As illustrated by Jesus’ “Parable of
the Prodigal,” our Heavenly Parent is always watching for ways to reconcile and
deepen the relationship with us.
In my father’s sermon notes for today's reading from Romans, Dad wrote:
God’s love says, “I love you unconditionally. I’ve always given myself to you. What is your response?” God’s love does not depend on our virtue or achievements. The nature of God’s love is such that it does not leave us as it finds us. And it does not use us up. It refreshes and renews.
Excerpt from the manuscript of the sermon preached by
Rev. Bill Lawson on June 18, 2023, at Briensburg UMC.