Fathers teach us a lot of interesting stuff about life, faith, and taking one for the team. Here are a few thoughts from the writers at Journey about what fathers teach us about the church.
Fathers invoke the theological principle of hospitality each time they turn up at dinnertime with stray colleagues suffering food allergies or distant relatives who got stuck at the airport. These people can be as vexatious to the spirit as outsiders who sit in your pew and loudly intone an alternative version of the Lord’s Prayer. The same rules apply: move over and make space or go to your room.
Unless every family member can maintain a straight face and attentive demeanour under scrutiny, don’t be tempted by the space and the unimpeded view. You are better off tucked away where fathers have the opportunity to demonstrate the justice of Solomon alongside the parable of the loaves and fishes. They may even sneak in a few minutes of meditation during the sermon. Church is a sanctuary—why add unnecessary stress?
Fathers demonstrate this on a regular basis when they sit straight-faced through beginner violin concerts or allow themselves to be caught in the slips by junior bowlers. If you don’t think that God appreciates a joke, read the story of Sarah and Abraham. Laughter and tears bind us together, as long as we share them.
You might never be as stoic as Frodo of Middle Earth or as gallant as Matthias of Redwall, but your story is surely just as worth telling. Everyone has a story and testimony is a crucial part of the Christian faith so it’s important to know how to tell it. Dad read out his favourite books by doing all the voices. When you share about your journey with God you don’t have to do the same, but it might help.
Fathers in the Old Testament might have been a bit hasty but in their patriarchal way they loved their kids and really wished they would get a job and stay out of trouble. The knowledge that you are worthy of love is the most important gift that a parent gives their child. We affirm the principle from 1 John 4:19 at every baptism: We love, because God first loved us. PS: Dad, I can explain about everything. Call me.