Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lunch with Dad

This then, is how you should pray, “Our Father . . .” (Matt. 5:9)

I had lunch with my Dad on Sunday. That’s not so remarkable. I’ve had plenty of lunches with my parents, meals in their home, family gatherings at holidays, having them to our house to grill burgers. My Dad and I have been at the same meal and sat at the same table more times than I can remember.

But on Sunday I had lunch with my Dad alone. Just me and him. And honestly, I can’t remember the last time that happened.

The day, of course, could not have been more fitting. It was Father’s Day. My mother has been in North Carolina tending to her own mother who is in poor health. My wife was in a different part of North Carolina delivering John to a two-week camp experience. So we two preachers, finding ourselves wife-less on Father’s Day, made plans to meet for lunch after church. Like I said, that doesn’t happen often. I’m glad it happened Sunday.

We’re going to be thinking this week about the ways that God is a parent to us and what it means for us to mirror who God is in our own parenting. Today, having sat at table with my own Father, I’m particularly aware of the fact that God’s fatherhood is defined by intimate fellowship with us.

To speak of God as Father says so much about who God is and what God is like. Such language certainly speaks to God as creator and the giver of life. God is our father in that our life issues forth from his very own. Fatherhood speaks to the ways in which God provides for our needs. God’s guiding and teaching are included as well as God’s discipline.

But at the heart of all of this is simple fellowship. Apart from the intimacy of ongoing fellowship with our God we will not be able to hear his word of instruction, we will resent his hand of discipline, we will take far too much credit for our own existence, we’ll assume that hard work and smart decisions allow us to provide for ourselves and those we love. When we lose the experience of daily fellowship with God we may also find that we’ve lost our delight in his Fatherhood.

Interesting. Few people saw the raw power of God unleashed and displayed more than Moses. With every morning deposit of manna, Moses knew that God provided. With the tablets of the Law, Moses knew that God would guide and instruct. And after the people lapsed into idolatry Moses knew that God would discipline his people.

And yet it was Moses who spoke with God face to face as a man speaks with a friend.

This morning God invites you into fellowship, a few moments at the table. You are free to sit quietly, free to voice questions and worries, free to think through the events of your day and the people in your life, free to give thanks. And all of this is done in the company of your loving Father.

What was the last time that happened? Hopefully it hasn’t been long, and hopefully it you will return again to this table.

By the help and presence of your Spirit, O Lord, teach me how to keep fellowship with you throughout this day. Guard me from a hurried appointment in the morning, the quick read of a devotional thought in route to more pressing matters. Keep me mindful of your presence in all things. Amen.

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