Faithful Fathers

Dear Children,

One of my favorite preachers is Ann Weems. Her father was a Presbyterian pastor in Nashville in the 1950’s. One day he stood and preached a sermon on “Brotherhood,” that all of us are God’s children and we are one and the same family having God as our Father. Immediately after the service the Session (church leadership) went into a special meeting and instructed the pastor to never again preach on that topic from the pulpit. And Dr.Weems replied to his leadership:

“ …if this was brotherly advice I will receive it with gratitude . If it was to instruct me on what to preach, I cannot accept it, for only God can tell me what to preach.”

A crisis was precipitated in the church. Eventually the leadership of the church asked him to resign. The congregation was called to meet and resoundingly supported the pastor. They wanted a pastor to preach what God told him to preach and not what men and women told him to do. I suspect if I were a member of the congregation, I would want that too. How about you?

Finally, the higher courts of the Presbyterian church acted upon the matter and upheld the position of the pastor and the congregation. Then and only then, did Dr. Weems resign. A principle had been maintained, which has always been at the heart of the Presbyterian Church, that the pulpit is free. The one who preaches is free to speak what is pleasing to God even when it offends the human ear. It was the defining moment in the life of Ann Weems. Years later, Weems wrote about the moment.

“He spoke out
when others were quiet.
He stood up
when others would have run.
He risked and lost position , monetary gain , prestige,
when others would have rationalized .
It was not that he was courageous
He was faithful. “

Fathers, who are you faithful to? What are you faithful to? Dr. Weems was faithful to God, and Ann Weems knew her father loved her, unmistakably and unconditionally. But now she saw how plainly her father loved God. He was faithful!

( I am thankful to Rev. Ann Weems and her father for the inspiration this week. A book you might want to check out is “Family Faith Stories” by Ann Weems, 1986s)

Let us pray for faithful fathers this Father’s Day!

I will see all of you this coming Sunday morning...for worship and the annual Father's Day breakfast.

Pastor David J. Jensen

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