Preparing for Worship – Jeff Hampton.
On this Father’s Day, who do you thank God for? It may very well be your father, but it also might be a mother, teacher, friend, neighbor, colleague, pastor or someone who was there just at the right time. My list gets pretty long when I think about it, and I’ve added two more today.
Our service today includes “The Depth of God’s Love,” an anthem written by Billy Crockett and Kenny Wood. They were two of my “basement” mentors back in the day. By basement, I’m echoing Wilshire’s student minister Darren DeMent, who describes songs he’s led in worship recently as coming from the youth center in Wilshire’s basement.
Kenny was my youth minister, and Billy was a couple of years older in the youth group. Kenny was a pied piper of sorts, engaging us with his endless energy, quick humor and contemporary yet oh-so-deep and challenging take on faith. Billy was quiet except when he sat on a stool with his guitar in our basement youth center — The Fishermen’s Net or just The Net — and sang popular ballads of the day (Elton John’s “Love Song”), led us in worship songs (“Pass it On”) and debuted some early tunes of his own. He’s made a name for himself in the world of Christian music over the years, and he and Kenny have teamed up to create some wonderful music.
Those were great days with great memories of learning about life and faith that helped all of us kids become who we ultimately would be. For me personally, Kenny and Billy came along after the unexpected loss of my sister and showed me that life still held joy, meaning and even laughter. And they helped teach me that Christ was in the big center of that life.
I had wonderful parents — the best father ever! — who taught me all of that and more, but teens aren’t always receptive to parents and often look for role models elsewhere. The problem is they’re not always mature enough to recognize a good role model and instead follow a bad one, or they wander “like sheep without a shepherd” as today’s gospel reading addresses. Kenny and Billy were good shepherds in their own unique ways, and I know now my parents made sure I was near them in The Net as often as possible.
On this Father’s Day Sunday, think about those who have shepherded you on the path of faith. Remember those who have helped you know the “depth of God’s love” that “reaches down, down, down to where we are until we’re found, found, found” as the anthem so wonderfully describes.