We are still at the beginning of a series of Advent devotionals on the theme of “A Legacy of Faith.” Thanks for returning to join us on the journey. Today we’ll look at the influence of fathers on our legacy.
Last year, for 24 days in Advent, we followed the story of my father meeting my mother and falling in love. Soon after they married, World War II broke out. Dad went to Europe as a chaplain with the US Army. Dad was a gentle man, and war was anything but gentle. I have been reading all the letters he sent home from the front, including his first-hand account of liberating the concentration camps. The scenes he described were horrific. Yet my father was also deeply distressed when the American GI’s raped local women and his fellow officers became intoxicated. Were they any better than the Germans?
Dad’s commander asked him to lead a memorial service for the US servicemen who had died en route to defeating Germany. After praying for the dead, Dad also prayed for the living:
Grant, O Lord, that we who live on may highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. We here dedicate ourselves anew to the divine cause of freedom and justice for which they fought. Inspired by their sacrifice, help us, O God, to rise to nobler living, to be obedient to Thy holy commandments, and to share in building a better America and a world of brotherly love and peace among all mankind. We ask it in Thy Holy Name. Amen. – John H. Parke, US Army chaplain
Many men came home from the war wounded physically and scarred emotionally. When my father returned, he rarely spoke of the events he had encountered, but his faith preserved his sanity and his hopes for mankind. Even more importantly, he passed that faith on to his children.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you.” (1 Cor. 4:15)
Who fathered you in the gospel? Offer a word of thanksgiving for their ministry in your life.