While there is absolutely nothing “religious” about this Sunday’s celebration of Father’s Day, there is, I would suggest, something holy and sacred. Not unlike the celebration of Mother’s Day, both became observances in the early part of the 20th century as ways to underscore and celebrate the important role parents play in the raising of children. The specific origins of Father’s Day can be traced back to the YMCA in Spokane Washington in 1910. Sonora Smart Dodd initiated what is now a long-standing tradition as a way to her honor her father who was a single parent raising six children.
To be sure, the word fatherhood can conjure up a wide range of emotions and reactions; some life-giving, some not-so-much. Each of us has a story of origin, and who raised us is a significant part of that story. What is “holy and sacred” to me about fatherhood is the acknowledgment and inference that none of us is an island and so much of who we become in the world has a lot to do with how we were seen and loved as children.
For some of us it was through the love of a biological father, for others it was the impact of an adult figure (of any gender identity) that provided an imprint of love or support, and still for some it was the absence of that love that has shaped our choices of who and how to be in the world today.
My prayer for us this Sunday- is that wherever you find yourself in relationship to Fatherhood- we can channel a stream of gratitude out into the world- for what has been, or not, for what we might still long for, or we may be working to create in our own life.
For as we hear every week at the time of the blessing-the truth is indeed that:
“Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So be swift to love, make haste to be kind.” (Henri Frederic Amiel, 1821-1881)
A Father’s Day Prayer
We give our thanks, Creator God, for the fathers in our lives.
Fatherhood does not come with a manual, and reality teaches us that some fathers excel while others fail. We ask for Your blessings for them all – and forgiveness where it is needed. This Father’s Day we remember the many sacrifices fathers make for their children and families, and the ways – both big and small – they lift children to achieve dreams thought beyond reach.
So too, we remember all those who have helped fill the void when fathers pass early or are absent – grandfathers and uncles, brothers and cousins, teachers, pastors and coaches – all the men who reveal your love one day at a time, best as they are able. For those who are fathers, we ask for wisdom and humility in the face of the task of parenting.
Give them the strength to do well by their children and by You, day by day.
In Your Holy name, O God, we pray. Amen.
(UCC pastor Chuck Currie, Director of Center for Peace and Spirituality)
And may you never forget that you are loved,