Sunday Worship 21st June - To Our Father on Fathers Day
When he was a long way off – his father saw him and ran to him
Loving God, whose son Jesus
welcomed and played with children:
in the middle of the weekend,
and heading towards the holidays,
we thank you for the gift of play.
Loving God, whose son Jesus
told stories to make people laugh,
and spoke of making joy complete:
in our lives and in all our relationships,
we thank you for the gift of laughter.
Loving God, by whose son Jesus
we are made sons and daughters:
for fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers,
for all with whom we share our lives,
we thank you for the gift of family.
Loving God, by whose son Jesus
we know you as ‘abba’, father:
help us to celebrate our earthly fathers,
and to praise you, our heavenly Father.
Genesis 17.15-19; 18.9-15 Luke 15.11-32
Psalm 139 (choose which verses you would like to read)
Message for today from the Bible readings:
In Genesis God promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations, but Abraham and his wife got older and older. When God came calling one day and Abraham and his wife had fed Him, Abraham and his wife then insulted Him. Abraham, father of a nation, laughed when God said that he and his wife, Sarah, would have child. Surely they were too old? Sarah also laughed, although she later denied it. But God had the last laugh by telling Abraham to name the promised child Isaac – which means ‘he laughs’. Still they both did not believe what God had said.
This reading is really in two parts and divided by a length of time, initially God spoke just to Abraham and then much later to Abraham again and this time his wife Sarah was listening, she then laughed too. But God saw the funny side of this and told them to name the child Isaac – which means ‘He laughs’. After the baby of promise is born, and named Isaac, Sarah says, ‘God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me’ (Gen. 21.6).
Being a parent should bring laughter and happiness. Think of all the times that you have laughed with your children and as a family. Times of great joy, Christians are often seen as people who don’t laugh and smile, but how wrong this is. We are full of joy in our Christian family, God fills us with happiness and this is the second gift of the spirit, love and then joy. This joy flows from the love that we experience in God our Father. Look at some pictures of your family and thank God for them.
IF you are on your own think of a time when you laughed with them and thank God for that time. IF you are with others in your home, talk together about times you played and laughed as one. As you share then give thanks for your family.
God did complete his promise to Abraham and Isaac was the first of the next generation – God’s promise was fulfilled and so began a people of God. We are that people of God , we are his children, we are heirs to his promise. We belong to Him and He is ‘Our Father’. The Church in Blaby is a branch of His family. Let us think about each other and give thanks.
What does it mean to be heirs to His promise ? In Romans 8:17 Paul says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” According to this verse, we share in the sufferings of Christ now and will share in the glory of Christ later as His “co-heirs” or “joint-heirs.” As His children, we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade . . . kept in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4). “You are no longer a child, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:7).
Think of all that means. Everything that God owns belongs to us as well because we belong to Him. Our eternal inheritance as co-heirs with Christ is the result of the amazing grace of God. Ephesians 2:13 says, “In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” God took us, poor orphans in this world, and made us a part of His family through faith in Jesus Christ. He has showered us with blessings and promised us an eternal inheritance, based on the worthiness of Christ Himself Through Jesus we are given ALL He has – let us praise God for making us his heirs. Let us thank God for being Our Father.
Our Second Bible Reading is perhaps the most well known parable of all times – The parable of the Lost Son. We often listen to the story of the prodigal son and focus on the young man: how he behaved, and how, eventually, he turned his life around and was welcomed home by his father. It is that last action that would have been particularly shocking to those listening to Jesus. A son who had shamed his family would not be welcomed back under any circumstances.
Today we are going to think about the story from the father’s perspective. The father had effectively given his son, his inheritance before he died. It is like one of your children asking for their share of their money now. This might put you in debt to give them this. It is in effect the son walking away from the family. Why might the father have given the son what he asked for ? Because he loved him – He set him free. God loves us and sets us free, He allows us to walk away from Him, to wander as we will. But notice the father watched and waited at the window. Can you imagine every night he looked for his son, he never forgot him, he was always in his mind. God does the same, He looks out for us, He never forgets us, we are always in His mind and heart.
When the father saw his son, in the distance, he saw him from afar and knew him, he ran to him, he ran, in his pyjamas. How unbecoming that was – did the father care – no. His son was back. God runs to us too when we turn to Him, He knows us and runs to us, He wraps us in His arms and takes us safely home. Then the party starts!.
The image of the Father in this parable is the image of God Our Father, this is the heart of God and Jesus. They will never give up on slave, but God’s child; and since you are his us, they will always hold us in their hearts, they allow us free choices and hope we turn to them. Their joy is great when we do. Think about your fathers and all the sacrifices they may have made for you down the years, for the ways they guided you and supported you and loved you. Give thanks for your earthly father. Give thanks for your heavenly Father.
I would like to share with you a poem based on the father running to the son: -
Abraham may have been the father of many nations but God our Father, creator of the universe calls me into a personal relationship with Him, may we run to Jesus/God and remain with Him forever.
Prayers of intercession:
Lord God, we call you our father:
guide and bless every father.