The commercial holidays are always problematic in the church, especially those that appeal to sentiment and know there’s nothing like a little guilt and sense of obligation to motivate the reluctant gift giver. Valentine’s, Mother’s, and Father’s Days come to mind.
Besides our unwitting collaboration in hawking unneeded stuff, the commercial holidays often demand that we view our complicated and hard world with a sweet simplicity that does us no good.
So maybe I woke up in a bad mood
We are going to take note of Father’s Day in our worship this Sunday. At the 9:15 service, as many men as are able will join our “Men’s Instant Chorus.” I love that tradition. We are going to sing “Faith of Our Fathers” in all its exclusionary glory, noting not just the faithful women and men who have lived their faith into our lives, but particularly those good and faithful dads who may have been a part of our lives.
That, of course, is the rub. We live in a time when a good and faithful dad is hardly the experience of all. And always Father’s Day, and its Mother’s Day partner, remind us of those who wished to be a parent, but who were not or could not be one. We know of loved ones and family members whose parenthood has been cut short by death or estrangement. For some the memories of a parent are dark or sad. For others the celebration of mom or dad reminds us of their death and our loss.
But it is more than unwitting collaboration with commercialism or insensitivity to pain and sorrow that allows us to open the church door to the risky proposition of a little bit of Father’s Day observance.
Fatherhood and family are a gift from God. Our misuse of the gift or the sorrow of life in a complicated and hard world do not negate the goodness of the gift. God powerfully uses faithful fathers to teach their sons and their daughters what it means to be human and to thrive in the ways God would have us thrive. And when the faith of our fathers is strong and real, joy much better than sweet simplicity fills our lives.
On Sunday, then, even – especially – in worship, we will mark the day. Father’s Day, third Sunday in June. Some of us may find ourselves reflecting on the complexity of it all. But we worship not our fathers or fatherhood, but the God who gives his own Spirit that we might call to him, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15)
My personal prayer is one of thanksgiving to God for my own dad, for Christopher and Ryan, the dads of our grandkids – good and faithful dads, and for the privilege of being a dad and a granddad. What could be better?
See You Sunday!