June 9, 2008

€œFor Father’€™s Day–€”a Gift That Will Last A Lifetime
by Pastor George Van Alstine

How can you ignore an ad like that? Certainly it’s not an ad for a tie; that may not last past Thanksgiving’s gravy stains. A box of chocolates may last no more than a half-hour. Even the nicest card will probably end up in the trash a few weeks later. What gift lasts a lifetime?

Dad’s name on a star! This is an ad for one of the numerous “star-registryâ€? companies ready and willing to take your credit care number.

Here’s how it works. You can spend anywhere from $19.95 (sale price for the basic computer-printer-generated certificate) to $479.00 (an “Heirloom-framedâ€? certificate, a 20″x16″ framed personalized star chart, a booklet on astronomy, a letter of congratulations, a personalized wallet card with the star name and coordinates). Of course, if you really love your dad, you’re not going to give him the $19.95 cheapie.

The star chart will indicate the area of the night sky to look for your star. If you have access to a telescope, you can actually see your very own star. “There it is, the star ‘George Van Alstine,’ ten degrees east of the southernmost star in the constellation Orion. No, wait, it’s moving. Oh, that’s a plane. Better look around more.â€? It must be reassuring to locate your star and know that you still exist.

The ad points out that, even after you’re gone, “your relatives, using a telescope, can actually see your star.â€? This means the star-registry gift will actually last more than the advertised “lifetime.â€? Descendants three hundred years from now may be able to look you up on line, then look up to you in the sky.

Some people are likely to take this a step further and imagine that, after you die, the star is you. “Look, there’s grandpa. Not the bright one; the little orange one next to it. You have to squint to see him. I think he’s waving at us.â€?

All this may be comforting on some level, but it’s just another way of lightening your wallet in exchange for false hopes and assurances. Your name may be one of a thousand assigned to a given star, and identifying with that star won’t bring you one moment closer to immortality.

So, kids, don’t buy me a star-name. Save your dollars. What matters to me is that my name is “written in the Lamb’s Book of Lifeâ€? (Revelation 21:27). And if you want to give me a real Father’s Day gift, assure me that your names are written there as well. The best way to honor me as your father is to let me know that you will follow me into eternity, where our heavenly Father will hold us more securely than the stars.