He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. I want to share a little bit with you about my Dad. Before becoming a pastor, my father was a beat reporter for the Chicago City News Bureau. Seeing a great deal of pain and injustice, my dad developed a passion for working to change systems that were unjust.
My Dad was color blind, literally and figuratively. It was easy to see this on the days that Dad didn’t wear the clothes my Mom had laid out for him. His color combinations were tragic. But in a more profound way, my Dad never saw the color of a person’s skin. He looked at folks with an openness and a sensitivity that helped him to see their inner beauty, their soul.
One of my prized possessions is a telegram sent to my father from Martin Luther King Jr. inviting him to sit with Dr. King on the speakers’ platform when he spoke to a full house at Soldier Field on July 10, 1966. It was a rally to make Chicago a city of equal rights and open housing for all people. My Dad was honored to receive this invitation and he went to the rally but he had already bought seats and sat with my oldest brother in one of the upper rows of the stadium.
My Dad loved the Gospel of Luke because it was the Gospel of inclusion. He believed that God’s table was for all people, of all beliefs, of all shapes and sizes. A man of prayer, he believed that if we all could sit at a table with one another, pray together, eat together, and listen and share with each other—then everything would be all right. My Dad preached, lived, and modeled Micah’s answer to the question what does God require of each of us: He did justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly.
I treasure the lessons he taught and the books he gave to me. Dad led Wednesday evening prayer groups and all of them at one time or another used Joseph Schmidt’s Praying Our Experiences. It is a classic best-seller going to the very heart of prayer: intimacy with God. My Dad was a big Henri Nouwen fan. Three of his favorites were The Wounded Healer, Life of the Beloved, and Making All Things New.
In her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us, Diana Bass describes the church as a place where bridges are built, hospitality is practiced, disagreement is safe, and all are nurtured. Most of all, church should be a place where relationships are cherished and love abounds.
This is what I have been taught about the church and what I have always loved about the United Methodist Church. It has been a distinct privilege to serve with you. Thank you for your love and support and for all that you have taught me.
Thanks for letting me share with you about my Father in my final First 15. Let me summarize what I wanted to say:
Serve the World.
You already know that. Be thankful for those who have lived that way and continue to model for us what a difference that makes in their lives, the community, and our world. Be that way for others. Read one of the books I highlighted and pass it on to someone you know who can afford to go a little deeper spiritually. That’s all of us!
Help us to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly. Help us to spend more time in prayer and study. Thank you for the people you have placed in our lives to help us grow in our understanding of what it means to live faithfully. Bless us, and this church, as we continue to seek where you would have us go, and who you would have us be. Amen
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.