Sunday, June 15, 2014
Sunday message- Dad and the whole armor
As you know, I was exposed to a lot of my father's warts. But when you examine the man on Father's Day, what I am was not possible without him.
As I listened to the opener in a series on the Whole Armor of God, I began to think on this. There are parts of that armor that must come from God, and parts that can only come from within yourself. But those my Dad could give, HE GAVE.
Start out with the belt of truth. My Dad may have been one of America's Storytellers, and every story may have had to included, "GD it Woody, you're right" being proclaimed by someone. But I can never recall an occasion he lied. And he made good and sure I didn't either. Did he hide things he was ashamed of? Sure, and I was good at tumbling onto them. But in a way, that brings us to the breastplate of righteousness. Whether it was from the things he taught directly, the things he hid in shame, or the belt to know the difference, he taught me there is a right and a wrong. The saddest thing I have heard in jousts with atheists is their conception (at least for some of them) that there is no absolute good and evil. Right and wrong is what society, what the family, what the individual makes it.
Hold your ears, this is Dad's story. And to those atheists he would have said, "Oh, Bullshit." And he taught me to as well.
He also provided me with my framework for the shield of faith. First, he tried to teach me not to be afraid. It was hard to do, because I was Mom's last baby and she tried to shield me not only from harm, but from Dad's attempts to teach me to deal with it. And at 47 when I was born, it was hard for him to "kick against the goads." Later, after Mom died, he only knew to teach me about fear by browbeating me about things I wasn't really afraid of to get me to not be afraid of whatever I was afraid of (but he didn't know about). It was a poor method, it didn't work, but after having lost 15 years worth of teaching it to me, he really didn't know what to do. And I was too young and stupid to do anything but react to his frustration. But I see it now.
Second, he went to church. Big deal, you say? Consider this: my parents were old-school Catholics, still trying to figure out why they'd want to change the mass from Latin to English. For people like this, the evidence of their faith WAS going to church. And it never diminished after Mom died; in fact, that aspect got stronger. He rarely missed a Mass said for Mom, whether it be Saturday night or Tuesday Morning, whether it be a church full of worshippers, or a half dozen old people and me being called out of the crowd to be an altar boy because no one else bothered to show up. There was NO DOUBT in his mind on the "question" of God. And thus, there was never any doubt in mine.
The rest is up to God to judge. The "shoes of the preparation of the gospel" was up to me- being a Catholic family, taught to get the Bible in doses at the Sunday service, we had no full Bible in the house until the one Dad's union gave to put on Mom's casket. The "helmet of salvation" came through contact with others. The "sword of the spirit" is a work in progress. But one man made damn sure I had a shot at these things. He would have rathered I did it the way he was taught, sure; he never talked about it much, because they weren't taught that way; But make not the same mistake I've made for years- he helped make it happen. Happy Father's day to you all.