Compassionate Father

father-child[Shared at an elderly care home on Father’s Day]

Hi everyone! Happy Father’s day! I’m so thankful to be here today and to share this morning with you all. If you are a father, would you mind raising your hand, if you are able? Happy Father’s day!

Father’s day is a day where we remember our fathers. Your father may have been a loving role-model, which is a great blessing. We may have many memories of our fathers – fathers whom we felt safe with when we were 5 years old and scared of the boogie monster in the closet, fathers who were strong for us when he carried us to bed after we fell asleep on the sofa, or the time that he provided for us as a teen, when he risked his life to let us drive his car for the first time.

Or, your father may have been distant. Or, maybe he is not with us anymore. Even still, each one of us has or had an earthly father. Today, I want to go a little bit further on Father’s day and remember our Father, as in God our Father, who is our perfect Father before our earthly fathers came to be and who is always with us.

Who is our Father God and what is he like? One snapshot of our Father God can be found from a story in Luke 15:11-24. This story is meant to capture the love that God our Father has for us. Here we go:

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Wow. There is so much behind this story about the son and the father. If you’ll notice, the son actually had a bunch of… issues. In the story, he asked his father for his share of the estate – so essentially, he was demanding and extremely disrespectful to his father by asking for his inheritance early. Then, we see that the son squandered his wealth – meaning that he was irresponsible. But something else that we notice about the son is that he came to his senses. When he realized the low, dismal, place that he was in, he did the hard thing of humbling himself and going back to the father with a big apology.

Likewise, from this story, we notice a lot of things about the father. First of all, the father lets his son take off with his liquidated property. I don’t know if I would ever have the audacity to ask my father to give me my inheritance, but more outrageous than a child asking for their inheritance early is that a father would actually comply with such a request! So we can see from this story that the father is extremely gracious toward his son.

Secondly, we can tell from the story that the father was extremely compassionate. Even while the son was a long way off, the father saw the son approaching and the father ran to meet his son. This means that instead of being furious and frustrated with his ungrateful son taking off with his inheritance, the father was most likely was scanning the horizon everyday – anticipating, hoping, longing for even a chance to see his son to come back. And when his son did come back, boy did the father’s heart just tangibly go out to his son! So incredible is the father’s love for his son.

Finally, one more thing we can notice about the father is that he likes to party! He celebrates the return of his son and throws a big ol’ party over his son, who was dead but now alive, lost but now found.

This is such an incredible story about the father, right? This story was meant to paint a picture of God, our heavenly Father, in his relationship with us. Even though we may be extremely disrespectful of God – demanding things from him and expecting the world to revolve around us. Or, we may be irresponsible with the life and resources that God gave us. But even in that state, God our Father has that heart of graciousness and compassion toward us, because he loves us as his own sons and daughters. And if we ever humble ourselves and go to our father God with an apology, if we ever decide that we want to come back home to him, who gave us everything from the beginning, God our Father has a heart of celebration for us. Pretty awesome, right?

So, on this Father’s day, I hope that we will take the time to remember and appreciate our fathers. If you are a father, I hope that today is a day where you feel remembered and appreciated! And I also hope that for all of us, we can remember how much our heavenly Father loves us. He loves us to death – literally. We know this because God the Father sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross on our behalf, so that if we ever ask God for forgiveness, it is tangible to us that God has already provided and paid the debt that we owe him. In his graciousness and compassion, he wants to embrace us and welcome us home into fellowship with him. Ok, let’s pray.

Dear God, Happy father’s day! You are so awesome and you are our perfect Father. You are the King of this world and more than the world revolving around you instead of around us, you are the one who makes the world revolve. You created everything and you created us. God, we are sorry that we forget that you are our Father and sometimes, we want to strike it out on our own. We want to go where you are not there and where we can do what we want to do instead of what you want to do. God, during the times that we want to come back to you, would you please forgive us and accept us again, even though we are no longer worthy to be called your son or daughter? Thank you for choosing to embrace us even in while we have pigsty mud caked on us, even when we are not cleaned up from our mess of selfishness, pride, and irresponsibility over the blessings that you have given to us. It’s beyond our highest hopes that you would even welcome us back, even running to us, when we are not cleaned up yet. But God, you are that kind of father, who loves us even when we completely disrespect your. It’s so crazy that you want to invite us back into relationship with you and that you long for us and love us so, so much. God, we praise you because you are that kind of Father toward us – a gracious, compassionate Father. Please help us to receive your love. We need you everyday, so please be with us and help us to love you and others, too. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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