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On 20th June we are going to celebrate Father’s Day. Every year we have this special holiday in our diaries to be saved for family gathering, BBQ, giving cards and gifts and socialising – this year with social distancing. We Christians put all this into the context of the Bible and think what we can learn from God our heavenly Father, what the features of his love, care and wisdom are that can be paralleled with the personalities and qualities of our early fathers which are worth celebrating. Let me mention just one of those qualities now that is essential in our Christian faith and in the social fabric of our church family and network: generosity.

Happy are the fathers who are remembered for their generosity, and happy are the children and grandchildren who have experienced the generosity of their father and grandfather in their lives! Nevertheless, it is not something that comes cheap in our relationships, can be forced out, coerced, demanded and taken lightly. I cannot say to you, for instance, give me a very significant amount of money which I need urgently, which I will not pay back to you, as I know you are a very generous person. Generosity should be demonstrated and received genuinely.

When I think of the Biblical context of a generous Father I think of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Can we think of a more generous father than the one in the story? Certainly not. The parable recorded in Luke 15:11-32 has been called “the greatest short story in the world” (Barclay). It could also be called the Parable of the Older Brother (about how not to behave at church), or, surprisingly, the Parable of “Prodigal Father”. The father’s heart overflows with love and generosity. In the story the father represents God. He is the prodigal Father in the way He loves His children. He “squanders” and lavishes his love upon us, even if we don’t deserve it. Yet He remains full of love for us. Let’s learn from our Father‘s love and be extravagant in our love to others around us.

Let’s celebrate the generous love of our fathers, influential men too, who protected, helped and sacrificed their time and other means so we might get on with life well, and let us be assured of the love of our children, grandchildren and those on whom we have an influence in life knowing that what we do for them is appreciated. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a very moving and inspirational story for us to be generous and caring to everyone in the same way in our families, at church and in our hurting world ravaged by the pandemic and in need of selfless love.

Happy Father’s Day and All the Best! John