Make a Joyful Noise
Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 18, 2023
Jane Shelton, CRE
Today is an important day, Father’s Day, and I want to wish all the father’s here in the Sanctuary and watching us live, a very happy Father’s Day.
While many of us grew up with very loving fathers and fond memories with our fathers, there are many who did not. Sometimes I fear there is so much attention placed on bad fathers that we fail to properly recognize the ones that were loving and good. As is our human nature, we tend to focus more on the negative than the positive, and in so doing, we do not pass down the good values the good fathers have provided from generation to generation.
So today, I want to take a few minutes for us to make a joyful noise to praise those who are good. Today, let’s focus on the positive. I’m going to give everyone a couple minutes to think about a fond memory of a time they shared with their father. If your father was not a positive influence in your life, then think of another father figure with whom you shared a positive experience that you would like to share.
Let’s take just a moment to give you time to think about a fond memory you have with your father, and when you have something, just raise your hand, and I’ll give you time to share.
Those of you watching from home, just enter your stories of your favorite memory of your father in the comments as well.
Is there anyone in the congregation that would like to share something good that their father has done for them?
For those who are not brave enough to physically speak about the love of your father or father figure in your life, but are holding on to a fond memory in your heart, just say a quiet prayer of thanksgiving.
Now, for all of you who have seen a kind act by a father, and you thought, “Wow, that’s really sweet! Or that’s really special, or kind, or loving.” Maybe a father out to lunch or dinner with children and having a conversation with them. Or maybe a father in the neighborhood playing ball with children, or a father showing a child how to do something with his hands, like sawing or building or planting. Let’s take a moment to give a silent prayer of thanksgiving for those fathers, and grandfathers, and father figures.
Now for any of you here or any watching on Facebook livestream, if you are feeling especially alone today, and have felt totally lost or unloved, or unrecognized by anyone for the pain you may be feeling, I’m going to share with you information about the greatest Father. Our Lord, who created us and made us his own. Let us give a shout out to our Father God who loves us where we are, and understands whatever heartache we are experiencing so that others may come to know the heart of our God who accepts us and fathers us regardless of anything in our past.
While many of us have shared beautiful stories of our Fathers, there is one Father that can always be counted on to love you. It doesn’t mean there are not seasons of pain and feelings of being abandoned at times, but in faith there is hope which produces endurance to survive the worst of the world we may encounter. This endurance builds character that we can not only survive, but we can have peace from all that weighs us down, and once we understand the heart of God, the relationship with God, we can then share that knowledge with others, and bring them to the same understanding. In order to build character, one needs a willing heart to be in relationship with God.
When we have an ongoing relationship with God, we have a faith that brings hope in glory and love. Knowing we are justified by faith in a God who loves us, God moves a willing person, one who is willing to recognize and understand the relationship of love provided by God the Father, from a state of sin to a state of grace.
From Paul’s perspective, the main condition of justification is human merit, the ability to keep the law, faith in Christ’s redemptive work, possession of spiritual gifts, and unmerited favor with God. We are capable of producing the fruits of justification which are peace, grace, hope in glory, and joy in suffering.
In his book, “Fathered by God,” John Eldredge points out that Jesus continually focused on the Father in heaven. God the Father who is kind and generous and out for what is best for us.
Eldredge shares that Henri Nouwen came to see, rather late in his life, that this longing for a relationship with a real father, his need for a real father was the deepest yearning of his heart, and Tom Wolfe called it the “deepest search in life.”
‘“The deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united. (The Story of a Novel)”’
Romans 8:15 reminds us that we have received the Spirit of adoption, and we acknowledge we are children of God when we cry out, “Abba! Father!” We are indeed fathered by God and in this truth made heirs of God.
Eldredge points out that we make forgiveness the goal, the main focus, when it is actually the “coming home to the Father that is the goal.” It’s acknowledging and receiving all the goodness of God, just as the prodigal son recognized the heart of his father when he returned home.
Love is the beginning of healing and God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. God provides love even in our sinful behavior. God gives us a chance to make better choices, and once we understand and feel that unconditional love, we are able to love others.
It’s difficult to open ourselves up when we have experienced unspeakable heartache, disappointment and pain, yet once we are able to step forward in the hope of a loving relationship with God, our lives are forever changed.
- S. Lewis said, “God loved us not because we were lovable, but because God is Love.”
So let’s make a joyful noise to the Lord who loves us and gives us peace. Let’s come into his presence seeking to know him more and to understand the love that is offered.
Let us all be resurrected and renewed to the love of our Abba Father, the God who is Love so that we know we are valued and have purpose and a place in the heart of God that cannot be rivaled by anything or anyone here on earth. Knowing this, we also know we do not have to walk alone, rather we can sing praises, and be encouraged toward a new light of day and a new way of life. It’s up to us to make that step of faith on this glorious Father’s Day, and share that special message with someone searching for a loving father relationship.
May we all enter his gates and make a joyful noise as we are filled with thanksgiving and praise for the God who is Love.
*Cover Art by Stushie Art, used with subscription