I’m drawn to the creation story in Genesis this morning because it leaves no doubt where our focus needs to be. God the Creator traditionally has been called “Father.” And today is “Father’s Day”!
By definition a father is someone who creates a child. In the Genesis story God the Father created the world. But we find through experience in this world that it’s not quite as simple as that. A father is more than simply a person who is biologically connected with a child. In fact, to be a father—to be a parent—a man doesn’t even have to be related to the child! Many couples or individuals adopt a child who is not biologically connected to them at all.
The apostle Paul uses this adoption relationship to describe our relationship to God! In the Book of Romans, for example, Paul writes this: the Spirit you received brought about your adoption. But the Book of Genesis—today’s reading–teaches that we were created in the image and likeness of God. What does it mean to be created in the image and likeness of God?
We only have to listen to the creation story for the answer: In the lesson from Genesis that we just read together did you notice God’s response for each day of creation? Seven times God looks at the creation and sees that it is…good. In fact, at the end of the story God looks at creation and sees that it is…very good.
Seven is an important number in the Bible. It signifies wholeness, completion. This story of creation speaks of a gracious and generous God. The God we worship is not cheap or miserly; creation is not made up simply of birds, or fish, or land animals. It includes all of these, as well as the immense diversity within each of these groups, including us. When the story says God created the world in seven days it’s saying, God is generous. God is good. When the story says God saw that each part of it was good it speaks of the value of the whole creation, and our responsibility to imitate God’s love for the whole creation—for God so loved the world.
This gets at the deeper meaning of what it means to be a father. A Father is one who gives life—maybe. But without question a father is one who gives…love.
Most fathers do their best to care for their children. But we know that tragically, and all too often, a man who creates a child treats that child with abuse or neglect. So children grow up with a negative feeling about their father; they become suspicious about a God who is called Father.
What a gift to learn that it’s not biology but love that makes a man a father. Some children’s biological father can’t or won’t provide that love. Maybe some other adult man can. But one thing is certain: God is love. Our job is to imitate that love. And not just fathers and mothers. All of us are given the great gift—and responsibility—of representing the true Father’s love in the world, especially for those who through no fault of their own have never experienced the love of a human father.
God created the world. God loves the world and sees that it is good. You are created by God. You are beloved by God. You are created in the image and likeness of God—which means that you were created out of love for the purpose of practicing that love.
This is Father’s Day, a day to honor those whose great gift to children and to the world is love. Let us all, men and women, sons and daughters, give glory to God by giving our gift of love to the world. AMEN