What will you be doing on Sunday? Delivering another new tie? Eating cake? Perhaps enjoying a family barbecue? Many of us will be celebrating Father’s Day, a time to recognize the patriarchs in our lives and celebrate fatherhood. These are a few ideas about Father’s Day, to kind of help spur your thinking, just in case you wanted to change things up a bit this year.
Recognizing the Ultimate Father
Of course I am talking about God our Father. Some translations of the Bible have been updated to make them gender inclusive, that is, talking about God as our parent and not using the male pronoun as much. Because God is neither male or female, and within God can be found all the positive attributes of parents, maternal and paternal, some feel that using only male metaphors limits our vision of God and our ability (especially women) to relate to God, more so for individuals who had abusive fathers. While that is true, for convenience’s sake, I stay with the historical terminology.
As you observe Father’s Day this weekend, and even if you aren’t planning to, would you please take a few moments to recognize the “First Parent,” the One who created you, who watches over you, who loves you, and who sent His only Son to die for you so that you might be adopted into the Family of God?
Men, I speak specifically to you right now. Author David Murrow suggests that many men do not attend church because they have shifted to a religion of masculinity, finding their religious experience in the manly things. My father used to joke that he worshiped on the golf course, out in nature. I’m not sure he really believed God was there when he responded to making a bad shot! I know he didn’t state, “Lord, my shot was not what it was meant to be; please help me do better.” In fact, I’m sure his response might have mentioned God, but it was not in prayer.
Murrow suggests that men are turned off by the femininity of church and need to have a place where they can be masculine. I have a suggestion: Come to church and change that! It’s that easy! We need you. Christianity is not an individuality religion, but one of community. Yes, each of us will stand individually before God at the judgment, but in the practice of faith we are expected to work as a family, as a community, to support and be supported by one another. We need you! We need your presence to balance us, to do the manly things, to round out our community.
Honoring Our Fathers
After you recognize Creator God, your first Father, how will you commemorate your dad? Might I suggest that you honor him, living or dead, by doing something different this year, maybe something that makes a difference? If you father has died, why not have a party and ask everyone to bring something for a charity, whether something needed or money? A few suggestions might include cleaning and household supplies for those in Joplin or clothing or personal needs for men in a homeless shelter. You might even gather the family and visit the nursing home or the veteran’s home to encourage men who can no longer serve others or who have no one to visit them! Let your father know that you are honoring his example of service by serving others.
If your family history wasn’t the greatest, don’t miss the opportunity to change it, to break the chain of selfishness and restore the true model of fatherhood. I pray that you will find healing, recognizing that anything done on this earth, good or bad, is a feeble attempt at parenting, at best. God is not a man or a woman, but the true expression of love. (See 1 Corinthians 13.) You can trust God with your pain and with your feelings; it is okay to express them. It is time to lay down the anger and the pain and find peace. And if you need someone to talk to, I know several pastors in the community who would be more than willing to spend some time with you in the process.
Jesus told us to forgive as we have been forgiven. As you have received grace from God through Jesus Christ, on this Father’s Day, why not extend that grace to the men who have been father figures to you, whether biologically or relationally?
I’m planning a special service for our fathers this next Sunday, so if you are in the area, I’d love to see you at Ebenezer. I know getting out and doing something with Dad is tempting, but why not start that great day with worship for the One who parents us all?
Whether you are a father by blood, by adoption, or just because you are a wonderful man who cares for those around you, Happy Father’s Day!
Mary Kay Glunt
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 393
Greenfield, MO 65661