Last week my congregation celebrated Father’s Day in the usual way. It gave us an opportunity to say “Well done, good and faithful servant” to some very good men. It led us to pray for them, and for all Dads, who meet some very tough challenges as parents. It provided the setting for us to reflect on our own Dads, to think about their strengths and weaknesses, their victories and failures, and give thanks for them – or for those who have been “fathers” to us in some coaching or mentoring way. We prayed too for those who have had painful relationships with their biological fathers and for those who have found the Heavenly Father to be the best Dad ever.
That led us to look at the story of Abraham and his son Isaac, “his one and only son” whom he loved deeply. We took a close look at the difficult, but ultimately inspiring story, of how he was tested by God – challenged to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice. We looked at how Abraham was faithful, doing just that, proving his faith – and how God stopped Abraham’s hand just in time and saved the young man’s life. We looked at all the striking parallels between that story and the story of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
It’s not an easy tale to ponder but it is an important one.
It ultimately leads us to think about how profound God’s love for us all led God to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Father’s Day celebrations come and go. Sometimes they do so without much fanfare.
But remembering, and giving thanks, for God’s deep, sacrificial, grace full love is something we should think about time and again. More than that, it should lead us to our own acts of sacrificial, giving love.
How might you do that – today?
By Paul Simrell
The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
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