Reflections on Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day!  All fathers will receive a special gift at worship on Sunday, June 21.  Join us!

Below are two reflections on Father’s day from our Communications Assistant, Angie Wortman.

A Scriptural Reflection on Father’s Day
Ephesians 3:14-15 says:  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name.”

The wording in this verse catches my eye and my curiosity.  The related footnote explains that the Greek word patria (family) is derived from pater (father).  So I get out my Zondervan Encyclopedia of Bible Words and look up father.  Five and a half pages of meaty text later, I have a better understanding of the complex Old Testament (OT) term and the theologically significant New Testament (NT) meanings of the word father.  The Hebrew word ‘ab (father) occurs 1,191 times in the Old Testament and its meaning ranges from literal father to a title of respect to founder of a tribe or family group.  In the OT, God is rarely identified as Father and only as in the relationship between God and Israel as a people/nation or between God and Christ as the “seed of David’s line,” although His fatherly characteristics are alluded to, e.g., “as a father carries his son” God brought Israel through the wilderness wandering (Deut1:31).

In the New Testament, the main Greek word that corresponds to ‘ab is pater.  There are about 400 times when the word has a secular or natural meaning (for instance the OT believers are our spiritual “fathers” as Abraham, the founder of that family that exists through faith in God, is the father of believers).  Jesus has a unique relationship with the Father as the eternal divine son and it is Jesus who revealed to His disciples and thus to us as believers that because of His redemptive work on the cross human beings are welcomed into a family relationship with God the Father. Most significant about the use of the word pater in the NT is how many times (about 250) it now refers to God.  Both Jesus and the authors of the Epistles constantly remind believers that we are God’s children and call us to a deep and intimate relationship with Him.  God wants to be the firm foundation of our families and the Bible is our handbook and blueprint as we build these relationships. This Father’s Day, make it a day to thank and praise your Heavenly Father for all He means to you.

As our Father, God rewards us (Matt 6:1), disciplines us (Jn 15:2; Heb12:7-11), listens when we talk to him (Matt 6:6; 18:19), knows and provides for our needs (Matt 6:8; Lk 12:30), lavishes his love on us (1 Jn 3:1; Jude 1) and gives us good gifts (Matt 7:11; Lk 11:13).  A father sets the pattern for his children – thus we are to be like our father in showing love, even to our enemies (Mt 5:43-48).

Reference:  Richards,  Lawrence. O. (1991).  Father. New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words. Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, (pages 265-271).


A Personal Reflection on Father’s Day
Life calls for a response – so does God’s Word.  What is our response as we approach Father’s Day?

Father’s Day is approaching and it’s time to find a card to celebrate our dads.  But sometimes our earthly fathers don’t live up to the godly role model.  Maybe you have or had an awesome dad with whom you had a great relationship.  He provided for your physical needs, was fun, understanding, compassionate and even inspired you with his example or his faith or his encouragement.  Don’t forget to thank him and verbalize your appreciation!  He is obviously God’s gift to you.  On the other hand, maybe your dad wasn’t all that – didn’t have the time or even seemingly the desire to be with you, or worse was abusive or abandoned you.  Or maybe you have a dad and stepdad(s) and the relationships are more complicated.

For me, there were some things about my dad that really frustrated me and sometimes made me mad.

He was there but he wasn’t there. Much of the time he was silent, shrouded in gloom, off in his own world.  He and mom had a rather stormy marriage and tried to make it work but after 43 years divorced, and he immediately remarried.  Some time after this, as Father’s Day approached, I was talking to a friend about my frustration with my dad.  She said that perhaps I should write him a letter and tell him all the things I could think of that I appreciated about him — God could use that in my dad’s life and in my life.  It was hard to get started but I wrote that letter, thanking my dad for all he had done to provide for our family’s financial and physical needs and for attending all my music concerts and supporting my scholastic endeavors – every positive contribution I could think of.  I also decided to let God be the judge of my dad and to just accept and love him as best I could. I felt a real peace and resolution, that I had done the right thing.   My dad died suddenly, unexpectedly, 5 years after he and mom divorced.  I was really glad I had written him that letter and later his second wife, my stepmom, told me that that letter meant the world to him – that he cried when he read it.

Life calls for a response – so does God’s Word.  What is our response as we approach Father’s Day?

I think our response is to accept our dads as a gift to us from God and to plant seeds of hope and faith by letting them know how much we appreciate their unique contribution to our lives — asking God’s help as we trust our Heavenly Father to work all things together for our good (Rom 8:28; Jer 29:11; Eph 3:14-21).  Whether our dads are a positive force in our lives or not, we can pray God’s blessing and redeeming love over them, knowing we can depend on our Heavenly Father.  And we can remember to say something cheerful to any other dads or father figures around us who have made a difference in our lives as well.

It’s a challenge to be a dad!  Let’s cheer our dads on as they try to live up to their high calling.


Father’s Day mug image used under license from



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