First Congregational Church UCC
220 West Lyon Avenue
Lake City, Minnesota 55041
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 SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2022
 
Good Morning!  

Sentimental love is good.  
  
It's not bought at the store.

It is giving of oneself.

It's at the root of Father's Day.

It's at the root of our faith.

One certain father was sentimental.

He was also presidential.


-Pastor David
 

We Love Because God Loves Us 
 
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First Congregational Church UCC
114 North Oak Street
Lake City, MN  55041
Here Is Today's Message

"Get Out Of The Store And Into The Sentiment"
A message from
Rev. David S. Badgley

 June 19, 2022

     My jaw fell open when I saw the front page of the Ace Hardware advertising flier that came in the mail two weeks ago.  
     In large letters at the top of the page it says, “Grilling Gifts For Father’s Day."
     To the left side of the ad there is an image of a man standing at a Traeger brand outdoor grill.  
     The man is holding a spatula, on which is a cooked hamburger, which he is passing to a young boy holding a plate with a hamburger bun ready to receive the cooked hamburger.  
     It is an iconic image of Father’s Day (or what we imagine Father’s Day to be) with dad grilling out and serving his son a hamburger.  
     That image is not what made my jaw fall open.  My jaw dropped when I saw the listed price of this grill... 
     But that’s not all. Pictured in the advertisement alongside that grill is an even more expensive Traeger grill.  
     You can protect that investment by buying an extra-large grill cover for $199.99, and then you add tax so that your total price for grill and cover is just under $4000.  
     This is what ACE suggests as a GIFT for Father’s Day!     
     Now, if you want to spend less money there are two more outdoor Traeger grills to choose from.  
     One is advertised at $829.00 and the other is $799.95.
     I think we need a reality check here: outdoor grills are outdoors. They are exposed to the elements, including birds that poop on them, and squirrels that chew on them, and hail that dents them, and dirt that dirties them, and mice that nest in them.
     When I saw these “grilling gifts for Father’s Day” I thought, “When did Father’s Day become Christmas Day?”  
     What I mean by that is when did Father’s Day become an occasion to spend between $800 and $4000 on a gift for dad?  
     That’s something people do at Christmas, not because it represents the spirit of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, but because Christmas has become so commercialized that people feel compelled (and guilty) to overspend in order to show their loved ones just how much they love them, which completely misses the spirit of Christmas, which is giving oneself to others.  
     People complain that Christmas is over-commercialized and by the looks of it the same is true of Father’s Day. Whatever happened to giving oneself on Father’s Day?  
     Whatever happened to giving sentimentality and love on Father’s Day, like a kid’s drawing or a phone call? 
     I did some historical digging on the Internet and found a quote from the mid-1980s describing Father’s Day as, “a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.”  
     That quote came from a retail group that welcomed the commercialization of Father’s Day.  And historically that commercialization is what both hindered and helped Father’s Day get established as a national observance in the U.S. 
       For example, in 1938 a group called the Father’s Day Council, which was founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers, promoted the commercial aspects to get Father’s Day recognized.
     Trade groups such as manufacturers of neckties, tobacco pipes and traditional presents to fathers put their weight behind establishing Father’s Day. 
     Yet, this commercial aspect is precisely why Americans resisted the idea of Father’s Day.  Americans perceived it as an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day.  
   Yet the establishment of Mother’s Day, and the subsequent establishment of Father’s Day was never meant to be about shopping and gift-giving.  In fact, the founder of Mother’s Day was so dismayed by the eventual commercialization of Mother’s Day that she wanted to rescind the day after working so hard to get it established.     
     Mother’s Day was originally founded with a sentimental and emotional purpose, as was Father’s Day.  
     Mother’s Day in the U.S. was started by Anna Jarvis. 
     Anna's mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War.  Ann Reeves Jarvis organized a day for all mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers to work together to stop war that killed their sons and husbands.  
     When Ann Reeves Jarvis died on May 9, 1905, her daughter Anna Jarvis began a campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized observance in the United States.  
     Anna said a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”  
     In 1907 Anna Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day service of worship at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia.   By 1911 Mother’s Day was recognized by every state, and Anna continued to work toward making it a national observance. 
      In 1914 president Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day to be held on the second Sunday in May.  
     By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards, and it became more commercialized. 
      Jarvis believed companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day.   The emphasis was supposed to be on sentiment, not on profit.
      Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. 
     Father’s Day was started to complement Mother’s Day.  A woman named Sonora Smart Dodd was living in Spokane, Washington. In 1909 while worshipping at Central Methodist Episcopal Church, Dodd heard a sermon about Anna Jarvis and her campaign to establish Mother’s Day.  
     Dodd told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Her father was a Civil War veteran named William Jackson Smart, and he was a widower who raised his six children by himself.  
     Dodd initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, to be Father’s Day, but the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons so soon after Mother’s Day. The celebration was set for the third Sunday of June, and on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day service was held, 112 years ago today.
     Beyond that service, Father’s Day did not have much success becoming a national observance. Dodd stopped promoting it in the 1920s because Americans saw it as another attempt by merchants to sell things, as at Mother’s Day.  
     Woodrow Wilson, who had put his signature behind Mother’s Day, was ready to make Father’s Day official in 1916, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.  
     Some states started observing Father’s Day, and trade groups promoted it, but it wasn’t until 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers and designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.  
     Even so, it was not until six years later when the day was made nationally permanent after President Richard Nixon signed it into law on April 24,1972.
     That makes today the 50th anniversary of Father’s Day as an official national observance in the U.S.  
     And for the occasion ACE Hardware will sell you Grilling Gifts For Father’s Day for $800 to $3500, depending on how much you really love and honor your father (or so the retailers would have you believe). 

     This is just what Americans in the 1920s feared would happen to Father’s Day: it became commercialized. It is just what Anna Jarvis resented happening to Mother’s Day: it became commercialized.
     And here’s the kicker: both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in the U.S. began as a service of worship, held on a Sunday, in the context of God’s love.  The emphasis of the day was about sentiment, not profit.  It was about expressing love and gratitude instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. 

    With the history of this day in mind, the Bible has some advice for our commercialization of love and gratitude.  The first letter of John says this in The Message Bible,
Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.
1 John 2:15-17 (MSG)
     What God wants is for us to love one another, and I realize my task today as a Christian pastor is to bring back the love and sentiment of this day as originally intended.  So I want to share with you a discovery I made. 
     I was searching government documents to find an image of the Father’s Day bill that Richard Nixon signed.  
     I came across some documents of President Theodore Roosevelt from 1903, just a few years before the idea of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day took hold. Yet, the documents weren’t signed bills.
     They were signed letters, hand written by Theodore Roosevelt to his children.
     
     The documents are part of a collection called, Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters To His Children. 
     Here is what the website says, 
    When Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency in 1901, he became, at 42 years old, the youngest president in the country’s history, and his children with wife Edith were similarly youthful in age. Theodore III (14), Kermit (12), Ethel (10), Archibald (7), and Quentin (4), along with seventeen-year-old Alice from TR’s first marriage, brought an unprecedented level of enthusiastic, early-years energy to the White House. 
     Though the responsibilities of his office were great, Roosevelt always tried to carve out time for his children, and when he was away on travels, or they were away at school, he would write each of them weekly letters. His children cherished and preserved these missives, and a collection of their father’s favorites was published in 1919; TR said of Theodore Roosevelt's Letters To His Children, “I would rather have this book published than anything that has ever been written about me.”
     You and I know Theodore Roosevelt as a roughrider, an outdoorsman, an athlete, naturalist, and preservationist.  
     His letters to his children reveal his personable, playful, paternal side, and his deep love for his family.  He even drew funny pictures in the letters, such as this self-portrait. 
     The website says, 
     While he only rarely offers his children direct advice and doesn’t wax poetic on what it means to be a dad, the letters create an indirect impact that’s even more salient; they impart subtle-but-potent inspiration as to what fatherhood should look and feel like.
      This is exactly the sentiment we need to restore Father’s Day to its original intent.  
     Here is a portion of one of Roosevelt’s letters.  
White House, Oct. 4, 1903

DEAR TED:

I am delighted to have you play football. I believe in rough, manly sports. But I do not believe in them if they degenerate into the sole end of any one’s existence. I don’t want you to sacrifice standing well in your studies to any over-athleticism; and I need not tell you that character counts for a great deal more than either intellect or body in winning success in life. Athletic proficiency is a mighty good servant, and like so many other good servants, a mighty bad master… 

A man must develop his physical prowess up to a certain point; but after he has reached that point there are other things that count more. I am glad you should play football; I am glad that you should box; I am glad that you should ride and shoot and walk and row as well as you do. I should be very sorry if you did not do these things. But don’t ever get into the frame of mind which regards these things as constituting the end to which all your energies must be devoted…  

Your loving Father
     I think Roosevelt’s fatherly message is still relevant to boys and girls today.
     Here is a letter about his fatherly responsibilities.  
White House, Nov. 15, 1903

DEAR KERMIT:

Mother has gone off for nine days, and as usual I am acting as vice-mother. Archie and Quentin are really too cunning for anything. Each night I spend about three-quarters of an hour reading to them. I first of all read some book like Algonquin Indian Tales, or the poetry of Scott or Macaulay. I have also been reading them each evening from the Bible. It has been the story of Saul, David and Jonathan. They have been so interested that several times I have had to read them more than one chapter. Then each says his prayers and repeats the hymn he is learning, Quentin usually jigging solemnly up and down while he repeats it. Each finally got one hymn perfect, whereupon in accordance with previous instructions from mother I presented each of them with a five-cent piece. Yesterday (Saturday) I took both of them and Ethel, together with the three elder Garfield boys, for a long scramble down Rock Creek. We really had great fun.  

Your loving Father
     These letters bring us back to the meaning of this day, and they reflect the meaning of scripture:  the world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.  
     God wants us to give ourselves to each other, with gratitude and love from the heart.  
     God wants us to thank each other, with sentiment and relationships.
     God wants us to know that the love we give to each other can never be substituted or matched by something from the store.  
     In the commercialized world we live in, Teddy Roosevelt’s words of fatherly advice apply to us.  
     “Don’t ever get into the frame of mind which regards these things as constituting the end to which all your energies must be devoted…”
    Get out of the store and into the sentiment. 

 
-Pastor David
 
Click here for previous Sunday Morning Reflections
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