|Bishop's Message (Jun 2021)|
As our modern society celebrates Father’s Day in June, I remember the apostle Paul’s prayer to God, whom he describes as "the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name" (Ephesians 3:15¬16, NIV 2011). I like the translation offered by Bishop Tom Wright: "I am kneeling down before the father, the one who gives the name of ‘family’ to every family that there is, in heaven and on earth."1
Some are blessed with positive memories of our human fathers; others have never met their fathers, or perhaps have only angry or painful memories of them. But whatever our personal experience of fatherhood might be, the Bible invites everyone to relate with the "one God and Father of all" (Ephesians 4:6). And is there a particular fatherly or family characteristic of this "one God and Father of all" that the apostle Paul prays for us to know and experience?
The answer is "yes" and the characteristic is clear: to know and experience this characteristic is to be "filled up to all the fullness of God". The characteristic of God the Father that Pauls prays for us to know is the love of Christ. He prays that we may all be "rooted and grounded in love" and that we may know this love of Christ which is so great, so deep, so wide that we cannot know it fully (Ephesians 3:17-19)!
So I shall celebrate Father’s Day this year by joining the apostle Paul in "bowing my knees" to pray for (at least) two things:
Firstly, I shall pray for myself, and all fathers: that we might know a little bit more of the fullness of God’s fatherly love in our lives so that we may become more rooted and grounded in providing love to our earthly families.
Secondly, I shall pray, not just for fathers, but for every member of "every family in heaven and on earth": that we might all know the "love of Christ"—a love so great, so deep, so wide, so universal that it commands us to love all our neighbours in "every family in heaven and on earth", "regardless of language, race or religion"—as we love ourselves.
May we all come to know the love of Christ that inspires us to Love God by Loving Our Neighbours.
1 Tom Wright, Paul For Everyone: The Prison Letters (London: SPCK, 2004), 38.
Bishop Dr Gordon Wong –was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020.
He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2013-2020.