June 17, 2012
Fr. Philip Eberhart
Have you ever gotten caught out on the road and a song comes on the radio that catches you off guard? Like George Straight’s “It’s a Love Without End, Amen.”
Or worst of all, “Butterfly Kisses!” OMG! I’ve had to pull off the road more than once cause I couldn’t see to drive. Especially when I first heard that song. They should not allow dad’s of 4 year olds to listen to this music!!!
Before the girls were born, Val and I tried to watch Father of the Bride several times and were always interrupted by preterm labor!! I wonder what that was all about. But after they were born I couldn’t finish the movie for several years!!
I told a friend one time, and he told me that that is why God made adolescence!! To prepare dads for their little girls to leave home!
Well, it worked a little bit, but I can tell you that I’m going to have a real problem with “giving my daughters away.” Jus’ sayin.
Fatherhood is been somewhat of a theme in my life.
A theme that is both ironic and iconic for me.
Ironic, because of the 12 years that we struggled to have children, and then that prayer in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem was answered with, “just what we ordered”: “two, beautiful, healthy children.” We just didn’t know to put “one at a time!” And a Rabbi friend recently told me that we needed to actually put two separate requests in the wall!
Isn’t God good?
Iconic, because the theme of Fatherhood has become central to my identity, not only as a “Father” in the Anglican priesthood, but because of the mantle and anointing that God seems to have placed in and on my life.
I took on that name out of deference to the people, many of you, at St. George’s where it was a customary form of address for the priest. But the name has become something more, a kind of calling and an anointing.
Icons are things which we use to gain a “window” into the spiritual realm, through visual meditation and prayer. My goal in taking on the name, Fr. Phil, was to be an icon, in this and in the wider community, of Orthodox Anglicanism, of unashamed Anglicans, who are in fellowship with the larger Body of believing Anglicans around the world.
I have friends from many corners of the Body of Christ, who relate to me as Fr Phil, not because of an authority structure, but because of trusted and loving relationships that have been developed over years of ministry together.
And I hope, an ICON of the Father’s Love.
I got a note this morning from Aly on Facebook, the whole world’s open journal!
She wrote: “Words cannot describe how blessed I am to have you as my dad. You were there for my every step of my life (& Kiri’s too) and taught me a lot about everything. You are always there when I need a snuggle, someone to cry on, laugh with, or to just give the world’s greatest bear hug. I am proud to call you my father. I could think of no one greater fit for the job than you. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. I love you more than anything daddy.”
Now I don’t know about you, but if I were driving I’d have to stop again!!!
An ICON of the Father’s Love!
Dad’s,My prayer for you is that God, the Father, “from whom every father in heaven and on earth derives His name” will grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith,
That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to KNOW the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
This prayer of Paul’s is so fitting for this Father’s Day, as we consider what it is to be a father in our day.
Fatherhood in our country is under attack and has been on the decline for generations! Fatherlessness is at the root of our greatest malady’s in our society and I believe that God is calling all men to step to the plate and swing away!!!
Our country needs men to step up. Whether you’re a biological father or not. We need men to be like Jesus!
Jesus said to the disciples on that last night, “if you have seen me you have seen the Father.” Jesus was fully the revelation of the Father to our world! Paul later wrote that he was the “visible image of the invisible God!”
He taught more about the Father and the Kingdom of God than anything else in his three years, and he modeled for us the Father’s sacrificial, unfailing love.
As our prayer says, “Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace!”
Men, we must live our lives in reference to Jesus, as Jesus lived His life in reference to His Father. Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He seed the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (Jn. 5:19)
Our lives as fathers are to be modeled on Jesus life. It is only here that we can find the connection, the example and the power to live a life that brings glory to the name Father and to the God who is Father of all.
No we won’t do it perfectly, like Jesus did, but if we aim high, our results will certainly be better than not aiming at all!!
So let’s aim at Jesus and his example, because we know that someday, if not already, our sons and daughters will be following our example, not our advice!!
Let us pray.
Let the men stand, whether a ‘father’ or not.
Most merciful God,
We call you ‘Father’ and draw from your word and example in Jesus Christ, the example and power for our own lives as men and fathers. We ask you to come, by your Spirit now, to draw our hearts near to you and to cause us to see you more clearly as we look to your Word for strength and direction. We pray that you “turn the hearts of children to their fathers and the father’s to their children” in our land, and remove, by your mercy, the curse of fatherlessness from our land. Let us, standing here today, be the beginning of a wave of faithfulness and unfailing love, as we come to imitate you, our Father and our God.
We ask all these things for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom among us, by the power of your Holy Spirit.
Amen and Amen