Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, of Washington State, first proposed the idea of a “father’s day” in 1909 while hearing a Mother’s day sermon. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. Mr. Smart, a Civil War veteran, 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. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent. Sonora’s father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910.
At about the same time in various towns and cities across American 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.
Father’s Day has become a day to not only honor our fathers, but all men who act as father figures. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends are all honored on Father’s day. The US and 52 other countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June.
- Did you know that many child development experts believe the influence of a father on his children is most critical from the ages of six to 14?
- Former President George W. Bush stated, “By providing their sons and daughters with a positive example, fathers help give their children the necessary foundation they need to make wise decisions throughout their lives.”
- Did you know that there are 70.1 million fathers in America?
- Did you know that in families where the mother works outside of the home, 14% of fathers are full-time stay-at-home dads?
- Did you know that nearly a quarter of all married dads have three or more children living at home?
- Did you know that one in five single parents with primary custody is a dad?
- Did you know that 11% of Dads are stepdads, living full-time with their spouse’s children?
- Did you know two-thirds of children under the age of six eat dinner with their dads every day?
- Did you know that six out of ten children under the age of six were praised at least three times a day by their fathers?
- Did you know that one in four dads, who work outside the home, spend less than an hour a day with their kids?
- And did you know that 38% of working dads say they would take a pay cut to spend more time with their kids?
(source for figures: US Census Bureau)
The role of a father in a child’s life cannot be underestimated. I cannot pretend to know what it is like to be a father, but I do know that often parenting is a tag-team effort. Things can get so hectic sometimes that we all find ourselves running at full speed just to keep up. But those quiet times, or times of laughter sitting around the dinner table, are what the famous commercial calls ‘priceless’. Father’s that truly know the importance of their role in raising children also understand the importance of educating their children in the church. Attending church is one of the few activities that completely supports and nurtures families. All members of the family can find a place in the church as we all grow and learn of God’s love and care together.
Gentlemen, today is my day to talk to you. Some of you are not fathers. Some of you are step fathers, or uncles, or big brothers, or good friends to children in our area. As men, you are setting the example for young boys and girls to follow in the ways of Christ. You are letting them know that it is ok to love God, care for your family, and share your strength and commitment with others. Our children are watching. They are searching for role models that are not focused on million dollar contracts or the many attractions of fame and fortune. When children remember the ones who have influenced their lives, we should not be surprised if you end up on that list.
When I think of my dad, I think of someone who would fix things that were broken, particular our cars as my dad was a mechanic as well as a minister. If he couldn’t fix it, he could pray over it! I’d like to share a list entitled “My father when I was…” from Ann Landers:
- 4 years old: My daddy can do anything.
- 5 years old: My daddy knows a whole lot.
- 6 years old: My dad is smarter than your dad.
- 8 years old: My dad doesn’t know exactly everything.
- 10 years old: In the olden days when my dad grew up, things were sure different.
- 12 years old: Oh, well, naturally, Father doesn’t know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.
- 14 years old: Don’t pay any attention to my Father. He is so old-fashioned.
- 21 years old: Him? My Lord, he’s hopelessly out-of-date.
- 25 years old: Dad knows a little bit about it, but then he should because he has been around so long.
- 30 years old: Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all, he’s had a lot of experience.
- 35 years old: I’m not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad.
- 40 years old: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was so wise and had a world of experience.
- 50 years old: I’d give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn’t appreciate how smart he was. I could have learned a lot from him.
It seems appropriate that the scripture lesson for today was the story of Jesus calming the raging sea. I think many times we look to our fathers and surrogate fathers when the storms rage and times get tough. We depend on our pillars to guide us through some difficult times. Yet Jesus was also one to welcome and embrace children – they were literally drawn to him. Often we think of Jesus as a somber person with a heavy burden to bear but children would not be drawn to such a person, particularly in a time when children were to be seen and not heard. Yet children were often a part of the crowds to whom Jesus preached and taught and witnessed to the power and love of God. Even through the awesome power Jesus displayed to calm the sea, having those present wondering, ‘who is this Jesus that even the winds and the waves obey him?’ we find unmatched kindness and love to welcome all into the presence of God. We see this reflected in our fathers – men of courage who have found a way to do all you have to do and still be a witness for God that is so powerful, our children are noticing.
So we look to our fathers for guidance and strength, but to whom do our fathers look to for these traits? What do our big brothers, uncles, step fathers, and cool friends do to rejuvenate their spiritual batteries in order to have the strength to face those storms? You are here with us today. You are not ashamed to be named as one who follows Christ, and is helping to make a difference in our community. You are helping to lead the way as our children pay close attention.
When a male role model turns to God for guidance and strength, wonderful things begin to happen. Some even tirelessly support their wives’ preaching outside the home and in the pulpit! Some are taking a stand through evangelism by connecting with our community in many special ways. And some provide the support and encouragement our young people so desperately need. If you are a father here today and are looking for some ways to grown and enhance your faith in God, I will be placing some information concerning an event called Emmaeus, which is a weekend retreat specifically for men (don’t worry ladies, there is one for you as well.) It is a time to set yourself apart from all the obligations and responsibilities of everyday life and focus solely on your walk with God.
Gentlemen, as a parent I thank you for the support you have shown to my family. Even our grown children need caring adults in their lives. I can say it was an extreme privilege to have all my children attend the ordination service held in May. Even though we differ in our beliefs, my children were there to support Mark and I on our spiritual journey (believe me when I say Mark and I are most certainly journeying together through my ordination process.) Gentlemen, as a pastor I thank you for the support you continue to show to me and to the church through your incredible faithfulness and perseverance as we plunge into uncharted waters. As a Christian I thank you for your genuine hospitality as you become the body of Christ for so many who are watching. I wanted to share this video clip with you as we close today. It is from the movie called “Courageous” and has a powerful message for our fathers today. [Play video] May God continue to bless us together as we continue to share God’s love with others. Happy Father’s Day! Amen.