This month, we celebrate Father’s Day, to honor all those dads who sacrifice and work to care for their children and others in their care. Occurring on June 15, 2014, it is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June, but it is also celebrated widely on other days. Father’s Day was created to complement Mother’s Day, a celebration that honors mothers and motherhood.
Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents”. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
Fathers are seen traditionally as protectors, providers, and role models for their children. Sometimes we ascribe such high expectations on Dad, that the reality can often fall short. Then we may get disillusioned, or lose heart, fearing as if without the love and support of our father, we are doomed. This can be especially true for little girls, who look up to daddy to be their hero, and provide positive feedback which enriches their self esteem. Boys look to their dads for advice on a wide range of subjects, believing Dad knows it all. This is the very same role Jesus played while on earth. He guided His children, offering advice when asked, and providing love and support when we need it most. Such as He did in 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”
Here I believe Jesus is cautioning His children to not lose heart when things are not going well. To “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” , thus clearly showing that our Heavenly Father is always looking out for us. And to know that your brothers and sisters the world over also may be suffering, but Father is there and “will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.” Isn’t that what a good father does for his children? Always there for them, offering advice, love, and patience, but with a firm hand to guide them in to adulthood.
In Acts 17:1-11, Jesus is looking to His Father, God of all, seeking His glory for all the work He did in God’s name here on earth.
“After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Just as a dad has his young charges to raise as best he can, so Jesus was given the task of teaching His children, about the Heavenly Father, and the truth of His love and presence in our lives.”I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” He further asks God to “protect them in your name that you have given me”. In an ideal world, every man that calls himself Dad would do this for his children, but we are merely human, and thus we sometimes fail. But there is a Father who loves us unconditionally, will always be there when we seek Him in prayer, and with a patient but strong presence, will guide us through the pitfalls of life.