In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
A sacred honor and commitment, a blessed responsibility. If we were to put a definition to the term fatherhood, I think we may all come up with words like this or something very similar. Fatherhood is a sacred honor and commitment and a blessed responsibility.
Today, being Father’s Day, we have a chance to reflect with gratitude a deeper meaning of fatherhood. If you think about it, the culture that surrounds our lives, especially the popular culture or the social culture, sometimes falls short on projecting fatherhood in the proper light.
Although I enjoy much of what popular and social culture have to offer, it often fails to treat fatherhood or motherhood or parenthood with the due respect or seriousness these sacred institutions of our lives so deserve.
Fatherhood, motherhood and parenthood are riches given to us from God. They are blessed by Heaven. They are endorsed by God Himself and they are valuable to us far beyond anything that has to do with a biological meaning. And so, as I said, if you think about it, the culture that surrounds our lives sometimes falls short on projecting fatherhood in the proper light.
When most of us grew up, fatherhood in popular culture produced men of character. Back then, fathers were respected. They were respected for carrying the mantle of the family forward. They were respected for their wise counsel or for their life experience. Today, there is a stark contrast in many of the images portrayed about fatherhood.
In popular culture, the father is either missing from the home all together or the subject of a joke or a gag of every scenario imaginable. Gone is the wise counselor. Gone is the respect and honor and love and to me, that is a big loss because, I know, these images enter too many good homes and they affect the home in very unchristian ways.
Today’s image of fatherhood is also very different than how the Armenian Church views fatherhood. The Armenian Church places great reverence upon our fathers and mothers and to the role they play in the life of the family because it sees the parental role as vital in raising the children of God in this world.
From time to time over the years, people have approached me to share a story, to share a joy in their life or to share an issue they are dealing with. Even more than sharing something, I am asked a number of questions from different people. Sometimes those questions are unique and very specific. Other times, it is a question I have heard before.
One of those more common questions deals with the large book on the altar where I stand during Badarak. They have noticed that during the Badarak, I read silently from the large book that sits on the altar table. And so over the years, I have been asked a number of times what it is that I am reading while the choir sings and the deacons chant. So I briefly share with them that I am reading prayers on behalf of them and on behalf of everyone in church.
Through those prayers, I pray over what the chalice holds. I pray over the bread and the wine. I pray for the living and the dead. I pray for their forgiveness. I pray for the intercession of the saints and I pray for the angels of God to guard us all.
Today, I want to end by sharing a short portion of those prayers. This prayer speaks about fatherhood, but first, let me say this. The greatest tribute we pay to fatherhood lies in the way we apply the word “father” to God. Christians were the first people of the world to call God “Our Father” and that is a privilege. That is beautifully conveyed in this private prayer of the Badarak.
Listen to the words: “God of truth and Father of mercy, we are grateful that you have exalted us above even the patriarchs of the Old Testament. For You were called ‘God’ by them; but You are pleased to be called ‘Father’ by us.”
This prayer is recited right before the congregation sings the “Hayr Mer”—the “Our Father, the “Lord’s Prayer.” It reminds us that it was Jesus Christ Himself, Who taught us to call God “Our Father” in that most important prayer. So when we think of God in terms of His Fatherhood, we should understand godliness to be the responsibility to which all fathers are called.
Today, let us thank the fathers who bless our lives and let’s honor those fathers who have departed this world. Their role and their responsibility comes from the image of God Himself. Let’s remember that we become stronger families when we allow the “Fatherhood of God” to enter our homes.
So on this Father’s Day, let us remind ourselves that it is through understanding the “Fatherhood of God” that we learn to serve and love the members of our families. Ask God to help you and your family reflect His Love every day.
Happy Father’s Day to all our dads.