Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Day’

Faith of our Fathers and our Legacies

June 18, 2017

Today is the third Sunday in June, June 18, Father’s Day 2017. This is day of commemoration and celebration to honor fathers–whether as Stepfathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, or “Big Brothers” or adult male family friends—we recognize all men who have acted as father figures in our lives.

The actual celebration of Father’s Day in the United States goes back to the early part of the 20th Century, when Sonora Smart Dodd, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. After Mrs. Dodd became an adult, she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day, which is also recognized in a number of countries around the world and celebrated at various times throughout the year. Roses are the Father’s Day flowers: red to be worn for a living father and white if the father has died.

I recall the lyrics to one of the stalwart hymns of the Christian Church sung so many times as a child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate in light of recently sharing my personal testimony involving the importance of faith in life.

Faith of Our Fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

Legacies

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain
And generate legacies we pass on
To each generation, father to son,
Heart to heart. The light of life left behind
Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,
Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all
Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.
Our lives of service are legacies we pass on
To the next generation, from father to son.
With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.
We rally to support a brother should he fall.
Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:
A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.
Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.
They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,
Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.
On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall
to view the future where greater victories are won.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

This poem composed on Father’s Day fifteen years ago takes on even more significance this year with the birth of Kingston Edward Simkins, my first grandson, who was born August 11, 2016. This experience has heightened my awareness of “Legacies” and the importance leaving behind a legacy as a faithful man of God. This song by Nicole Nordeman expresses the deepest yearning of my soul: “Legacy”

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On Father’s Day: We Be Brothers

June 19, 2016

Proverbs 17--17

On Father’s Day, June 19, 2016, I would like to share a special poem originally written in tribute to men of God, those who are connected as beloved brothers in Christ. I preface the poem with an experience that occurred several weeks ago during a Sunday morning service at Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC when Bishop Charles Mellette called on me to be a part of a living illustration to emphasize a particular aspect of the message that he was delivering. He asked me and another member of the congregation to stand as two believers, two brothers connected by the Spirit of the Living God. In describing us, Bishop Mellette remarked, “Spirit is thicker than blood.”

His comment brought to mind a statement that I first heard more than 30 years by the late Skip Mesquite, celebrated saxophonist and songwriter, who performed with Tower of Power and other prominent musicians and singers back in the day. When I learned of his falling asleep in Christ, I commented about one of his songs: “Hey, Brother,” the composition written for his brother by blood, trying to explain why he was closer to his brothers in the spirit than to his own “flesh and blood.” I was so moved by his performance that I was inspired to write “We Be Brothers” which I dedicated to Skip. Since first completing the poem, I have read it countless times, expressing the bond of brotherhood shared with fellow believers. It is certainly a fitting tribute to fathers and those who strive to maintain the ideals of true brotherhood:

We Be Brothers

“Spirit is thicker than blood.

Oh, yes, it is, brother.”

Skip Mesquite,

songwriter, saxophonist

         

men born again in brotherhood

beyond thin skinship of the soul

not blood but spirit makes us kin

we be true brothers, brother-man

 

I dig your gig, so rap to me

and play the sounds I need to hear

tune me in and play my number

just call me on your saxophone

 

soothe my soul with those mellow notes

flowing from your horn of plenty

man, make your heart-song melt my dark

and paint my skies in sunrise hues

 

I can escape the basement gloom

to scale the palace stairs with you

we climb to where the air is rare

we be true brothers, brother-man

Happy Father’s Day to all “true brothers, brother-men.”

Father’s Day Reflections: The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

June 21, 2015

Lonnie JohnsonAs the sun rises on this beautiful Father’s Day, I reflect with fondness on my father, Lonnie Johnson, who passed away in 1996. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to recognize my father’s undeniable influence. In my reverie, I thought of these lyrics: “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” At my father’s funeral I shared memories of my father and paid tribute to him with a poem that speaks of his enduring influence:

plainsong

for Lonnie Johnson

1922-1996

Your plainsong I know by heart,

a hymn stanza learned with ease,

lined out like the flow of chanted words,

syllables fused into a single sound:

I-love-the-Lord-He-heard-my-cry”

raised and repeated over countless Sunday mornings.

Your plainsong I continue to sing, expressed not in words

but in faithful deeds borne of a heart to serve.

Your rock-solid presence like a mantle clock keeping time

even beyond man’s three score years and ten.

Your plainsong resonates and flows through my being.

I sing with strength of character, integrity,

unconsciously humming refrains, improvising

common melodies with grace notes, making my own

your plainsong that will not let go of me.

I recall something that my father said on a number of occasions when he told me, “Son, I’m proud of you.” Every man since Adam has sensed a deep yearning to hear these words or some variation thereof from his father. On one specific occasion occurring around Father’s Day, my dad made a similar comment that inspired this poem

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

There was a time when I would stretch my mind,

Make a list and try to think of the perfect gift,

As we approached Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June.

Now let me see what will it be?

I know. . . a portable radio. . .

What about a shirt—extra large—to fit?

Pajamas, house shoes, another Dopp kit?

Each year I would really try, as I resolved:

No more cologne—not another tie!

One year I ran out of ideas, and so I asked,

“Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

He thought awhile and in his own quiet way,

He smiled and had this to say:

“Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Son, just keep me proud of you.”

Now when my daughters ask,

What can they get me for Father’s Day,

I fondly remember, and I smile and say,

“The words of your Grandpa are still true.

As he said to me, so I say to you:

‘Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Girls, just keep me proud of you.”

I continue to thank God for my father and all that he contributed to my success in all areas of my life.

Abba, Father: Taking another look

June 19, 2014

In the days after Father’s Day, we were still reflecting on fathers and looking at what the Scripture have to say about God and fathers. Psalm 103:13, the Verse of the Day, for June 16, 2014 talked of the qualities of God as a father:

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

Other related scriptures included:

Proverbs 3:12

For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

1 Thessalonians 2:11

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children.

Ephesians 1:3

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

Abba, Father:

God is our father: We have the privilege, not just to call God, “our Father”, but we can call him “Abba, Father”

The word “Abba,” is a transliteration of the word “Father.” Since no English word adequately conveys the meaning of the Aramaic word, “Abba,” the translators use the transliteration of the term. The word conveys a close intimacy that is reserved for parents and children. We might compare the word to dad or “Daddy” or some other term of endearment, but such translations do not really express the closeness implied by the term. Here are three places where the expression is used.

Mark 14:36

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Romans 8:15

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:6

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

 

The latter two verses form the epigraph or introductory statement to a poem with the title:

 

Abba, Father

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear,

but you received the Spirit of adoption

by whom we cry out,”Abba, Father.”  

 

Romans 8:15        

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son

into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Galatians 4:6                                        

Abba, Father,

All creation is groaning and moaning,

Wrapped in a winding sheet

Straining for relief, release. . .

Sighing and crying,

we no longer suppress

the primeval urge to scream

but wail as if travailing in childbirth

 

 Abba, Father,

Our heart’s cries rise

from the depths of our souls,

stifled in some by disappointment,

crushed by discouragement and besetting sins—

heart-songs hushed in so many by hardship,

and buried in despair by hope deferred,

muffled and all but snuffed out by offense.

 

 Abba, Father,

hear our yearning to express

what cannot be uttered,

listen to our guttural lament,

the alto rhapsody of

our navy blue notes,

fashioned from the twelve bar blues

of our soulful melancholody

 

 Abba, Father,

hear this ecstasy of our prayer:

this inexpressible, irrepressible,

unspeakable joy infused into

the love song of a captive bird

released from the snare of the fowler,

a new sound, our song of the lark

composed to sing on the wings of freedom

 

Abba, Father,

we long to sing a new song of the Lord,

a beautifully crafted ballad,

an aria de capo arranged for our Beloved,

a duet sung in two-part harmony

fashioned from our own Willow Song,

as our midnight cry harmonizes

with the voice of the bridegroom

 

Abba, Father,

as the Daystar dawns

and the sun of righteousness

rises to dispel the frigid, dark night,

receive these our brand new praisesongs,

songs in the night, sung in the morning,

raised to glorify and magnify your name,

as perfected true sons of God

now emerge to transform the earth

 

Listen to a heartfelt song entitled “Abba Father” from the group Acapella

 

Maranatha Singers also offer a rendition of “Abba Father/We Give You Glory” from a collection entitled “Abba” 18 songs to the Father.

Birthday reflections from a father

June 17, 2014

Psalm-68 4

Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name Jah, and rejoice before him. A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. Psalm 68:4-5 KJV

The Verse of the Day for June 17, 2014 is another verse related to God as a father. In this case he is a father to those who have no father. Indeed, the absence of fathers or fatherlessness is beyond crisis stage, not only in America but around the world. Statistics clearly reveal the devastating consequences of fatherlessness which impacts society, in terms of the resulting poverty and the health and emotional challenges suffered by children from fatherless homes. God has been and continues to be deeply concerned about those who have no fathers. And that “God sets the solitary in families:” Yes, indeed, God is very concerned about fathers and the state of fatherhood in the world today.

This is a special week in that it contains two occasions to celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday which today.

Usually on my birthday I write a poem of celebration. This tradition goes back to the first time that I consciously took upon myself the mantle of an occasional poet—meaning that I consciously determined to write a poem for a specific occasion. The first occasion that I remember writing a poem for was my 21st birthday when I composed this short piece:

Upon Turning Twenty-one

 

The day came and went,

but felt no different—

a day like any other,

yet why so much significance.

This special date:

June 17, 1963

Should mean so much to me,

But I felt as I did at seventeen.

Was I then a man or am I yet to be?

 

Today, I as I reflected upon my first poetic attempt and beyond, I composed this poem of celebration:

 Now is the Yet to Be

“. . . the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is what motivates you to serve

and continue to be faithful.

Christological Astronomy Profile Worksheet for Lonnell Johnson

Dr. Dale Sides

 

Abiding in His presence and overwhelmed by God’s favor,

Still compounding after the art of the apothecary

The precious anointing oil, my life a sweet smelling savor.

I reflect with gratitude and offer this commentary.

A new dawn emerged on this day seventy-two years ago,

As planets converged in Taurus; Cancer rose to battle Mars.

God makes known His will and shows His desire that I might know.

I look up, as the Eastern sky unfolds: witness of the stars,

And I see clearly once more that now is the yet to be.

I continue to stand strong in the power of His might,

As past, present, and future merge into eternity.

I press toward the mark for the prize, as I still fight the good fight.

Walking hand in hand with God toward the place of my destiny,

The hope of Christ’s return still undergirds and motivates me.

 

Abba, Father: What does it mean?

June 16, 2014

Psalm-103-13

On the day after Father’s Day, we are still reflecting on fathers and looking at what the Scripture say about God and fathers. Psalm 103:13, the Verse of the Day, for June 16, 2014 talks of the qualities of God as a father:

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

Other related scriptures include:

Proverbs 3:12

For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

1 Thessalonians 2:11

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children.

Ephesians 1:3:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

God is our father: We have the privilege, not just to call God, “our Father”, but we can call him “Abba, Father”

Abba, Father:

The word “Abba,” is a transliteration of the word “Father.” Since no English word adequately conveys the meaning of the Aramaic word, “Abba,” the translators use the transliteration of the term. The word conveys a close intimacy that is reserved for parents and children. We might compare the word to “Dad” or “Daddy” or “Poppa” or some other term of endearment, but such translations do not really express the closeness implied by the term. Here are three places where the expression is used.

Mark 14:36

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Romans 8:15

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:6

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Maranatha! Singers offer a rendition of “Abba Father/We Give You Glory” from a collection entitled “Abba: 18 songs to the Father.”

Father’s Day Tribute 2014

June 15, 2014

Prov. 23,24-25

Today, June 15, 2014, is Father’s Day, and the Verse of the Day from Proverbs 23:24 is apropos of this occasion:

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

Another verse from the Old Testament related to fathers also comes to mind at this time. In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4:5-6 we find another reference to fathers and their children. This passage provided an introduction to a Father’s Day Tribute last year, and I am re-posting that entry on Father’s Day, 2014:

In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, the Scriptures make this declaration:

This passage from Malachi comes to mind as we approach Father's Day 2013

This passage from Malachi 4:5-6 in the New King James Version comes to mind on Father’s Day 2014.

The third Sunday in June is Father’s Day, a day of commemoration and celebration to honor fathers–whether as Stepfathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, or “Big Brothers” or adult male family friends—we recognize all men who have acted as father figures in our lives.

The actual celebration of Father’s Day in the United States goes back to the early part of the 20th Century, when Sonora Smart Dodd, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. After Mrs. Dodd became an adult, she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day, which is also recognized in a number of countries around the world and celebrated at various times throughout the year. Roses are the Father’s Day flowers: red to be worn for a living father and white if the father has died.

I recalled the lyrics to one of the hymns sung so many times as child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate for this occasion, “Faith of Our Fathers”:

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

The accompanying video provides a rendering of the hymn in celebration of the Fourth of July.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

Legacies

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain
And generate legacies we pass on
To each generation, father to son,
Heart to heart. The light of life left behind
Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,
Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all
Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.
Our lives of service are legacies we pass on
To the next generation, from father to son.
With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

We rally to support a brother should he fall.
Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:
A covenant of blood ever seals our union.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.
They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,
Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.
On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall
To view the future where greater victories are won.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

This particular Father’s Day may be a very difficult time for many families who have lost a father, as result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and conflicts elsewhere in the world where many of those who serve in the military have offered that last full measure of devotion and sacrificed their lives. Others may have suffered the loss of their fathers in other ways that are no less painful. A fitting way to close is with this reminder that God is our Father, a Father who is deeply touched by our grief. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Here is a wonderful reminder of God our Father’s compassion, as the song written by Eddie Carswell and Babbie Mason in the video below encourages us to “Trust His Heart.”

Father’s Day Reflections–2014

June 14, 2013

Prov. 23,24-25

Today, June 15, 2014, is Father’s Day, and the Verse of the Day from Proverbs 23:24 is apropos of this occasion:

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

Another verse from the Old Testament related to fathers also comes to mind at this time. In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, in Malachi 4:5-6 we find another reference to fathers and their children. This passage provided an introduction to a Father’s Day Tribute last year, and I am re-posting that entry on Father’s Day, 2014:

In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, the Scriptures make this declaration:

This passage from Malachi comes to mind as we approach Father's Day 2013

This passage from Malachi 4:5-6 in the New King James Version comes to mind on Father’s Day 2014.

The third Sunday in June is Father’s Day, a day of commemoration and celebration to honor fathers–whether as Stepfathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, or “Big Brothers” or adult male family friends—we recognize all men who have acted as father figures in our lives.

The actual celebration of Father’s Day in the United States goes back to the early part of the 20th Century, when Sonora Smart Dodd, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington State, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. After Mrs. Dodd became an adult, she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a “father’s day.” In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day, which is also recognized in a number of countries around the world and celebrated at various times throughout the year. Roses are the Father’s Day flowers: red to be worn for a living father and white if the father has died.

I recalled the lyrics to one of the hymns sung so many times as child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate for this occasion, “Faith of Our Fathers”:

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

The accompanying video provides a rendering of the hymn in celebration of the Fourth of July.

As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the Faith of our Fathers, that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the first Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

Legacies

I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain
And generate legacies we pass on
To each generation, father to son,
Heart to heart. The light of life left behind
Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,
Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all
Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.
Our lives of service are legacies we pass on
To the next generation, from father to son.
With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

We rally to support a brother should he fall.
Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:
A covenant of blood ever seals our union.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.
They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,
Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.
On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall
To view the future where greater victories are won.
Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

This particular Father’s Day may be a very difficult time for many families who have lost a father, as result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and conflicts elsewhere in the world where many of those who serve in the military have offered that last full measure of devotion and sacrificed their lives. Others may have suffered the loss of their fathers in other ways that are no less painful. A fitting way to close is with this reminder that God is our Father, a Father who is deeply touched by our grief. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Here is a wonderful reminder of God our Father’s compassion, as the song written by Eddie Carswell and Babbie Mason in the video below encourages us to “Trust His Heart.”

Father’s Day and My Birthday: A Doubly Lovely Day

June 16, 2012

On occasion the third Sunday in June, Father’s Day, coincides with my birthday, June 17, making it a “doubly lovely day.”

As Christian Spirituality Examiner for Columbus, Ohio, I recently posted an article regarding the history of Father’s Day and a listing of local places to celebrate this popular holiday, occurring the third Sunday in June. Click here to read that article. On certain occasions the third Sunday falls on June 17, which providentially is my birthday. This Sunday turns out to be a “doubly lovely day” for me.

Not too long ago I was thinking about Father’s Day and the challenge of coming up with a special gift year after year. As I thought about past years, I recalled something my father, who passed away in 1996, said to me one time when I ran out of ideas and asked if there were anything in particular that he wanted. His reply inspired this poem written on Father’s Day of 2003:

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

There was a time when I would stretch my mind,

Make a list and try to think of the perfect gift,

As we approached Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June.

Now let me see what will it be?

I know . . . a portable radio. . .

What about a shirt—extra large—to fit?

Pajamas, house shoes, another Dopp kit?

Each year I would really try, as I resolved:

No more cologne—not another tie!

One year I ran out of ideas, and so I asked,

“Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

He thought awhile and in his own quiet way,

He smiled and had this to say:

“Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Son, just keep me proud of you.”

Now when my daughters ask,

What can they get me for Father’s Day?

I fondly remember, and I smile and say,

“The words of your Grandpa are still true.

As he said to me, so I say to you:

‘Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Girls, just keep me proud of you.”

I also recalled the lyrics to one of the hymns sung so many times as child and as an adult, which seems most appropriate for this occasion, “Faith of Our Fathers.” The accompanying video offers a stirring rendition of  a medley of “Faith of Our Fathers,” “I Know Whom I Have Believed,” and “God of Our Fathers”: three familiar hymns apropos of Father’s Day.

 As believers we have a remarkable inheritance of faith, the “Faith of Our Fathers,” that has been passed down to us from countless generations, going back to Abraham, the father of faith, passed on to the mighty men of faith of the Old Testament, all the way through to Jesus Christ, for we have received the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Moreover, we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses spoken of in the New Testament and giants of faith who have lived beyond the First Century, as we are still inspired by the lives of great men of faith today. Men of faith inspire faith in others, as this original Father’s Day poem speaks of that priceless inheritance passed on:

Legacies

       I

Faithful and true heroes ever remain

And generate legacies we pass on

To each generation, father to son,

Heart to heart. The light of life left behind

Ever shines to brighten the path of truth,

Raised and then passed on from elder to youth.

       II

Faithful and true heroes ever remain for all

Who hear the mandate and rise to answer God’s call.

Our lives of service are legacies we pass on

To the next generation, from father to son.

With the love of Christ in us, we tear down each wall.

We rally to support a brother should he fall.

Our ears have been pierced with the sharp tip of an awl:

A covenant of blood ever seals our union.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

Spiritual athletes excel beyond glove or ball.

They seek to bring out the best, as iron sharpens iron,            

Striving to finish strong and pass on the baton.

On the shoulders of our fathers we now stand tall

To view the future where greater victories are won.

Faithful and true heroes ever remain.

This particular Father’s Day may be a very difficult time for many families who have lost a father, as result of the War in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world where many of those who serve in the military have offered that last full measure of devotion and sacrificed their lives. Others may have suffered the loss of their fathers in other ways that are no less painful. I would like to close this entry with this reminder that God is our Father, a Father who is deeply touched by our grief. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation,that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Here is a wonderful reminder of God, our Father’s compassion, as in the accompanying video encourages us to “Trust His Heart.”