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Henry Bates

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The Way to a Wonderful Life, Sunday, June 16, 2013 

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       "... "OUR FATHER" ... who art in heaven, Hallowed is thy name. Thy kingdom is come. Thy will is done, as in heaven, so on earth." - Words from the Lord's Prayer attributed to the Master Mind Jesus, Matthew 6:9-10 (modified)

I have always been sentimental about Jesus' words in the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father" ... two simple, yet direct words that illustrated his teaching and philosophy that we are all One of the same Father; Creator, Intelligence, Spirit, Source.  The profound importance of these two words have never been fully explored by religious scholars.  For those who believe in the written text of the scripture that states that Jesus was the only son of G-d this must, I would think, be confusing and contradictory.  And for those who realize that many of the texts found in the scriptures have been changed and rearranged and modified to "fit" religion, may feel justified by this contradiction.  Yet, however we see it, the importance of making our relationship to G-d as personal as our relationship to our physical fathers is very clear.  In our childhood most of us have looked to our physical fathers for guidance, instruction and security.  Healthy father-child relationships have developed from the trust that we have assumed in our relationship to our fathers.  In the Higher Realm of Life, this physical relationship with our father is a reflection of our relationship with Father-God.

       I will always remember Dr. Bitzer of the Hollywood Church ending his affirmations with "thank you Father."  It was as natural as if he said it to his physical father.  The mystical Ernest Holmes cautions us not to lose sight of the warmth and personal-ness of our relationship to G-d.  The poet wrote that He is "closer to us than breathing" ... and this was to illustrate the inseparable relationship that we have with G-d, Infinite Spirit.  Not only are we "in Him" we are a part "of Him" ... not the "him" of human gender and experience, but the "Him" of Spirit, Life and Truth.  And yet, we have been gifted with choice ... to choose whether to recognize this relationship with the Father/Spirit or to deny it ... and even if we deny it, we never are relinquished from that eternal unconditional Love that G-d has for us all.  For many, this is just too much for their mind to grasp and believe, but it is the truth nonetheless.+

      Can we say that human fathers are intrinsically called to reflect this unconditional love for their children?  I believe so and many fathers do.  But, some don't.  A friend of mine in Hollywood reminded me recently of a "Father's Day" talk I participated in at the City of Angels Church some years ago.  I talked about an incident in my childhood when my refusal to wear shoes and instead run through the fields bare-footed, caused me to cut my foot severely on a piece of glass.  My father took me to the doctor and I got the proper stitches in my foot and then my father took me to the Florsheim Shoe store and bought me a new pair of shoes that I chose for myself.  In Mexico, Missouri, Florsheim was the Neiman-Marcus of shoe stores.  So this was a luxury and a fatherly kindness that I will always remember.

      Almost immediately after my talk one of the men in the audience came up to me and said,
"well, that may have been your experience with your father but my father was a monster who abused me and treated me so unfairly and harshly that I hated him then and I hate him now."  It was shocking to me to hear this, especially since he said it with such apparent anger still present within his mind and heart about it.  But, the lesson was not lost on me and I still remember those words and how very much those we love can hurt us.  I don't know if this man every reconciled with his father, but I know that both were damaged emotionally and spiritually by this experience in their relationship.  It was difficult at first for me to understand why this man had held onto these feelings.  I was not in contact with him again and so I did not have the opportunity to counsel with him about this, but I do know that these feelings, which were so impressed upon his mind, if not healed, would be reflected some way in his life experiences until he healed it.

     One of the greatest examples of father-son relationships is from The Parable of the Prodigal Son that Jesus taught to illustrate our relationship with our Father-God.  It is from the Gospel of Luke 15:11-32, and I am going to present the entire Parable as a tribute to all the fathers in the world: "Luke 15:
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
          17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
       25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found."

       Celebrate your father today.  Your Father-God who created you gave you into this life to your physical father for a sacred purpose.  And celebrate your physical father today, even if your feelings about him are confused and uncomfortable.  For those who love their fathers, tell them that you do.  And for those who don't love their fathers, love yourself a little more ... and love G-d a little more ... and you shall find a greater reflection within your heart of the livingness, and the forgivingness and the givingness of G-d ... and in this, you may find a healing of your relationship with your father here on earth.


Keep the faith!
. Henry Bates

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