Anglican Church Men Society (ACMS)

Fathers’ Day 2016 Presentation by Cyril Austin

Good Morning worshippers at All Saints.

We are assembled here today as Christians to celebrate yet another Fathers Day. A day on which we pay tribute to, and honour All Fathers!

My name is Cyril Austin a member of the A.C.M.S branch here at All Saints who has finally been lead to the slaughter by agreeing to address an audience as your good selves, on the topic of Father’s Day. A topic which to my mind has always been quite bothersome, and one because of its nature, deems it to be particularly complicating.

Indeed one is not too sure if its appellation should be spelt FATHER’S or FATHERS’ the one tending towards the father receiving his “kudos” in the private comfort zone of the family home with wife, children and friends, the other, on a more public and national basis, where fathers get together at centralized and public places, as they do in German drinking beer all through the day; and, by the way, German beer as I understand is reputed to be the best in the world and it is a great pity that it is not available here in T&T. However in spite of these misgivings and setbacks, the thanks of the A.C.M.S go to the Rector and the Vestry for involving our Ministry in the proceedings of the day.

I should tell you that I have been a part of the faculty of fatherhood for over 60 years now, in the roles of father, grandfather, great grandfather, and also, having had a surrogate father. You see, my father died when I was still very young and it was the feeling of the family that as a boy, my growing-up should be overseen by a male elder if possible. The lot fell to my mother’s elder brother, Uncle Robert to all of us. He had not too long before retired, in renown as a School master and had been honoured by His Majesty, the king who conferred on him the Imperial Service Medal. As a pensioner in retirement, he was “passing rich’ on a pension of 25 (pounds) per month, and as a matter of fact, Uncle Robert and his wife auntie Betsy had already given the community and indeed the world their three (3) children in the persons of a budding novelist and writer, a reputed lady concert pianist and an all rounder, A-JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES.

-1-

Life at Uncle Robert and Aunt Betsy was a treat, something to talk about. Growing up with them and now being able to see things from somewhat of an adult view, made me wonder if we are honouring great men in world affairs for particular achievements, we do not think of those women who as wives silently and behind the scene contribute as housewives and home makers, making the four walls a home and a comfort zone. Uncle Robert was without a doubt the leader of the home but Auntie Betsy was the driving force behind him, the C.E.O of the organization as it were. As it was in the beginning with their children so it was with me in the end. The school master was in charge Monday to Friday with Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, the C.E.O, and my mother and sisters in charge on weekends making friends, entertaining and being entertained.

Church on Sundays a must. On a church morning, our little group was increased by two (2) children from the neighbourhood “Ivan and Harold” who had been “adopted” by aunt Betsy; and the process included we three boys going to “pay our respects” to all the elderly friends and family. I should tell you that from the time Uncle Robert received the award of the I.S.M for meritorious services, his friends, out of pure affection and acclaim, would call him “Sir Robert!” In later life whenever I reflected on my formative years, I held the very firm view that life was one of training, adaptation and appreciation. That fatherhood and family were two (2) different peas in the same pod, fatherhood being a relationship of love and understanding, counsel and instruction.

Uncle Robert was always very concerned when I was slow at my Reading, Writing and Arithmetic and would seek to improve my skills, not with the rod or the “retributory cudgel” as Charles Dickens called it, but by a stern voice and sterner look, or by some other “punishment” such as writing one hundred times citing my misdemeanour. All through the good book men/husbands/fathers are charged with the responsibility to provide for their families. I recall reading somewhere that the word “father” appears some 1100 times in the Bible, and yet it is difficult to understand why Mothers’ Day received world acclaim so many years before father’s day. Perhaps it is because women had always been able to eclipse pride or place when

-2-

Involved with men folks. There is an old Jewish saying the “God could not be everywhere so he created women.” This lead to the belief that women were always more in Gods’ favour than men, however when it came to father’s day being established on a national basis, the earlier efforts were treated with disdain by men in general because they felt that celebrating a father’s day which had been “modelled” after a mother’s day, was indeed a distinct attempt to domesticate their manliness, and they would have none of that.

The years went by until eventually in 1910, father’s day was proclaimed a National Holiday, and the irony of the whole thing was that it succeeded through the efforts of an American Woman who was one of six (6) siblings whose mother died in childbirth and they were all raised by their widower father. She felt that men of her fathers and courage deserved national honour and recognition similar to that which was done for mothers on mother’s day.

To me, there is still room for both parents to be shown the worlds love and respect together, not-with-standing the fact that father’s day now seems to be holding its own with the other major public holidays of the day.

In the good old days, it was customary that marriage was viewed as the precursor to parenthood whereby, a family would be established and it was not un-common to hear coming from the un-invited guests outside the church where a wedding was to be held, the question being debated as to “what kind of husband the groom would make, where he came from, etc, etc!” Mind you, the bride was always the essence of good standing and upbringing, who from birth had the ability to dispense all the attributes of love, tenderness, peace and good manners-while men in those days were looked upon as awkward things overgrown boys really sporting ten (10) perfect thumbs, five (5) on each hand, but this may not only have been old talk and mauvaise lange but an honest concern about what God was about to join together, could it continue the work of a creation begun in Heaven, and who would partner with God in continuing the establishing of His Kingdom here on earth.

-3-

These people saw the establishment in the first place, of the family home, comprising a leader in the person of an able husband and father, the mother and the children in keeping with the exhortation coming from Colossians 3:18-20

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your

own husbands as it is fit in the Lord;

Husbands, love your wives

and be not bitter against them;

Children obey your parents in all things

for this is pleasing with the Lord”

With Ephesians at its chp 6:2-3 speaking to the children directly;

“Honor thy father and mother that it may be well with you,

and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

“One will note here, this is the first commandment with a promise.”

Today is the day we publicly, with togetherness; honour the people who made us heavenly and human. It is the day that children celebrate their fathers and father figures, to show their love and appreciation for the people who are just as important or even more important in their lives than their moms are, for the guys who serve not only by providing proper food, clothe and shelter, but who by example and precept, strength and manliness, influence their character and emotional development, academic achievements and general well-being. It is the day when we do not only honour fathers but celebrate Fatherhood, Paternal ties and the Influence that fathers have on society.

As I moved from my juvenile days into early manhood, I was able to identify that the presiding authority in the home was always vested in the father of the family, and every father bears an obligation to do what is right for his children. When that obligation is lacking, there is evidence that communities suffer and end up being branded as hot spots and danger zones and in this regard it is a great pity that groups that set themselves up as single this, that, or other with the commendable intentions of protecting the interest of their children from whom they have been separated for one reason or the other somehow fail to realize that they are captured by the general

-4-

celebrations of father’s day and it would have been so much better if their children were able to celebrate their fathers and father figures, show their love, affection and understanding from the environment of a family home.

We men/fathers must take stock of ourselves because too many children are fatherless, too many suffering from neglect and abuse and as a result, the long established importance and the value which men/fathers mean to their families and especially to the children seem to be under attack by certain elements of society, and very seriously to. Today also is a time when fathers should stop and think and try to get a good marking from 1-10 on the pronouncement of;

(a) Ephesians 6:4

Fathers do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up

in the training and instruction of the Lord.

And be very concerned over 1Timothy 5:8

But if anyone does not provide for his own and especially for

those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than

and unbeliever.

Generally the expectation is that boys would model themselves after their fathers, and while girls would be the spitting image of their mothers, they would seek marriage to have husbands with the characteristics of their dad, but with the passage of time women are now proliferaing the work place outside of home so that the family can acquire conveniences which the extra income can provide. Such situations would necessarily shift the traditional duties of mom and dad, and “home dads” have had to become more involved in the dual role of parenthood in order to accommodate this new trend of affairs.

It is interesting to note the Diocese theme for 2016-“stewardship-nurturing boys, forming men for God’s Kingdom” A formidable task but a necessary one, if we are to continue to have our churches as institutes of light and learning, of inspiration and guidance-nurturing, instructing, teaching and training the young minds through Sunday school into the Sacrament, with exposure of congregational prayers, sermons and homilies provided by our

-5-

Shepherds and Stewards, who we call Father, Reverend Father and Bishop. And then there is God-the Infinite, the Eternal-who governs everything by His Mighty Power-who is the Only Object of our Worship and to whom we give thanks for our life here on earth.

How do we call Him?

We call him Jehovah, we call Him Abba, we call Him Father – Our Father when we kneel in Prayer or whenever.

Finally on this father’s day we say to all Dads, Fathers-Heavenly and here on earth…. Thank You for just being there-Thank You, Thank You, Thank YOU!

 

-6-