Thursday, January 26, 2017

February 2017

Dear Saints of Faith Lutheran Church,

February has finally arrived. Now most Pastors are probably writing their newsletters about St. Valentine's Day. If that is what you're expecting, I'm going to have to disappoint you. Why? Well, as all of you probably know, my wife Amy, and I, are expecting our first child, a son. He is expected to arrive soon, with a due date of February 15th. As I'm writing this to you that date is 3 weeks away. According to the doctors, midwives and nurses, he could be arriving any time now. That is why, with all of that in mind, I've been thinking a lot lately about being a father. How am I going to raise my son? What am I going to teach him so he can survive this world? What's his name going to be? Etc... All these questions and more, I'm sure, go through every father's and maybe even every mother's head. Questions of how I'm going to discipline my child have entered my mind at the same time, as well. Dictatorship? Kingship? Democratic? Republic? Tyrant or easy going? If only I had a really good example! My dad was great, but he could have done better. It's not that I don't love him, but he's a sinner just like me. I don't want to screw it all up! Every time I talk to any parent who read any books have told me the same thing... "It's not worth your time reading all those books. All the psychology, all the theory and practice presented in those books may be good for another child, but it's pretty much guaranteed yours will be a different 'model' than the ones the authors talk about." So I haven't read any books, except for one.

I've been reading "Being Dad" by Dr. Scott Kieth, who is a professor from Concordia Irvine, and also a friend. In this book he doesn't go through theory or psychology, etc. He doesn't tell dads that there is this way or that way to raise a child– in fact some of his colleagues and friends gave him examples to include in the book, multiple ways they have successfully or not so successfully been fathers. But one thing Dr. Kieth gets across is the greatest example in the end for fathers, is not any earthly fathers, per se, but the heavenly Father. He interweaves the parable of the prodigal son, at least this is what we have used as the term. In the book he points out that the parable is really not about the son in the story, but the main character is the father. The father loves his son so much he is willing to let this son go, never knowing if he'll ever see this boy again, knowing the son will squander the inheritance. But also more importantly, Dr. Kieth points out how the father reacts with love, when this last son returns. Instead of chastising or yelling or flogging him, or telling the boy to go to his room, as so many think or want to react to such a child, the father throws a party, a grand feast. Why? Because the father thought he would never see his son again! For all he knew, his son was dead and decaying in a ditch somewhere.

This is how our heavenly Father reacts with us. In fact every time we gather together He throws a feast. A feast of His own Son's body and blood. He throws a party because we who were once dead in our sin are now alive in Christ. He forgives us, He gives us life, all for our salvation. This is a great way for a father to raise his children. Yes, we still discipline, but only when the child lives in unrepentance. Once he or she repents we are to forgive them. This is how our heavenly Father deals with us, why can't we deal with each other the same way?

Yes, I'll be a father soon, but one thing I cannot forget is to be gracious and merciful to my son and forgive him. I pray you do the same with your children and not just with them but with all people. Yes, sometimes it's not easy, but forgiveness is what all good relationships are based upon. I bet that we could even argue that no relationship lasts unless each person is willing to forgive each other for only truly then do we come to realize that we love each other, just as Christ loves you, and will always love you into eternity.

When will I be able to get to forgive my son only time will tell. Regardless, I'm excited to meet him face to face, to hold him and care for him, and yes, to enjoy comic books together!

The Peace of the Lord be with you always. Amen.

Your Brother in Christ,
Pastor Jonathan Holmes

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