Bible Reading: Proverbs 1:1-9
Preacher: Phil Swain with the help of over a dozen church members who are sharing about their dads.
This Sunday is Father’s Day – and while we acknowledge that for some the relationship with their Fathers can be complex … we are using this day to ponder the wisdom, teaching and example passed down to us from our fathers or other significant people in our lives.
In a creative worship experience, Phil is framing the conversation around the Old Testament book of Proverbs and we have invited a number of different church members of all ages to share a little about their dads, what their Fathers have taught them and the passing on of sayings or wisdom. The video clips are fantastic and we encourage everyone to connect and enjoy this creative experience.
Today is Father’s Day and I just wanted to spent some time reflecting on the wisdom that has been passed down to us by our father’s or the father figures in our lives.
When I think about my own Father, I don’t think I can cover the breadth of things that my Dad taught me – from big things to little things … from how to change a tire to how to spin a cricket ball. But a couple of key things come to mind.
The most important thing that my Dad taught me was an understanding of what it means to live as a Christian. I can say that I learnt more about being a Christian from my parents than from any book or sermon. The commitment to worship, to grow, to serve … my dad taught me through the example of his own life. My dad also taught me how to listen. Every time anyone talks to my dad you can see him intently listening. Whereas my mind wants to race on with lots of different things … my dad has shown me the importance of genuinely listening to others.
There are plenty more things that I could share – but today I have invited other people to share about their Dad or the people who played a father figure in their lives. But up front I wish to acknowledge that for some people, talking about Fathers does not necessarily bring back happy memories. For some the Father/Child relationship has been complex, or distant, or even hurtful. If that is you, or hearts go out to you as we acknowledge that a day life Father’s day can be difficult. I hope that this sharing won’t be a trigger to stir up those feelings.
Today we acknowledge that many different people can play the role of fathering us – many different people have taught us things, passed on wisdom to us – not just our fathers, and today we give thanks to all of them.
And so, I put out a request asking people to reflect on something that their Dad – or the father figures in their lives – have taught them. I am going to show you some of the responses. If you wish to add your own reflections in the comment section – please do. Here is the video:
That was great. The bible reading for today is from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Proverbs was written by a few different authors – but most Proverbs were written by King Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived.
A Proverbs is a short, conscience sentence that conveys a moral truth. A quick grab of wisdom in a few dozen words. Sort of like the Twitter of the Old Testament.
And a bit like twitter – most proverbs don’t have much explanation to go with them. They make very little attempt to note exceptions or give qualifications … but rather just simply make a single general saying and allow the listener to work through it.
That got me thinking about the sayings that our Fathers or other significant figures in our lives might have given to us. I remember a saying my Dad always said is that we needed to give something “a sustained effort”. Not always an explanation of why or how … but that we needed to keep going with a sustained effort.
What about you? Did you dad have a saying? Or did other significant figures in your life throw out these Proverb type statements … a saying or a phrase that just sticks in your mind. Write it in the comments. I have a few people on video answering this question:
Some of those sayings are great … but the key is what do we do with wisdom if it is passed onto us.
If we jump back to the Old Testament book of Proverbs – on the surface it is a bit of a weird book. It jumps all over the place. There are some long speeches and short one liners. It really seems like a twitter feed full of a bunch of short sayings about a whole bunch of things.
One commentator said that the key to reading proverbs is more than putting the pieces together like a huge mosaic picture … it is about learning to apply these principles skilfully to the complexities that one encounters in life.
Whether it is a saying from our Dad or a proverb in the Bible, we need to do more than just listen to a saying … we need to think about how we can apply it to our lives.
Proverbs are not promises but more about probabilities. The suggest that if we do things a certain way, or adopt certain values or morals, then a good life is a likely outcome. But there is no guarantee. Just it is more likely to be a positive outcome.
When we read the book Proverbs – we might notice that the Proverbs often don’t dictate a response but rather some Proverbs compare two situations and invites us to consider the better way. For example. Proverbs 16:16, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” It is not saying that Gold is bad … rather to consider that it may be better to desire wisdom than Gold.
The ancient Hebrew paradigm liked to separate knowledge from wisdom. Knowledge comes through the study of the universe and the laws that govern it. Wisdom shows us how we can live happily, peacefully and righteously together – with God – in the practical matters of life. Knowledge leads to insight. Wisdom leads to life.
So, what do you get out of the Book of Proverbs? If you have spare time during lockdown it might be worthwhile reading all 800 of the Proverbs contained in this book. (Although note that some are a little dated or sexist … an unfortunate result of the era that King Solomon lived). Still, I encourage you to flick through Proverbs. Or have a look at this list of 16 good proverbs that I selected. What jumps out to you? What proverb do you love? What resonates with you? I think that it will be different for different people. As you write your ideas in the comment section I am going to show the last of my three videos – people sharing about a Proverb that connects with them.
I do thank all those who have shared today. It has been great to see different faces and hear different thoughts.
To wrap this up – in all the reading I did for this sermon, one line really resonated with me. Underlying the book of proverbs is the assumption that wisdom is good and can ease our way through life. I might word it slightly differently to say that the wisdom found in Proverbs – and throughout the Bible – and the wisdom that is found in the teaching and example that has been passed onto us by our Fathers or other significant people in life … that wisdom is good and helpful in our daily walk with God and others. Wisdom leads to life.
And so the key to wisdom is not only hearing … but discerning how we live it out.
This is the very first bible that I ever owned. It was given to me by my father and my mother in … well the date says …
In the front my Dad wrote …
And then he added a bible verse. Proverbs 3:5-6. We have already heard it today … but it is the wisdom that I have tried to live out in my life.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
May we all be open the wisdom from our Fathers and other significant people in our lives, and the wisdom from God … and seek to live out that wisdom.