Happy Fathers Day!
I remember my father once telling me that as he aged he thought more and more about his long-deceased father, dreamed about him, missed him. How strange it seems today that I am about the age my dad was when he told me this, and I find it to be true for me as well.
My father has been gone for a long time. At the time of his death, more than 20 years ago, he was an active, healthy 72 year-old, teaching the Bible, visiting the sick and involved in life. My sisters and I thought we'd have our father for many more years, but an aneurysm turned him into one of those "healthiest guy in the cemetery" statistics.
Funny, 72 seems even younger these days than it did then.
My father was a bundle of contradictions. He was loving but could be hurtful. He was wise and he was foolish. His uncompromising and sometimes rigid attitude was frustrating, but we always knew where he stood. He was ahead of his time, and he was hopelessly old-fashioned. He once told me, in a surprising conversation, to dream big dreams, but he was distressed that I left the Southern Baptist fold, and even more distressed when he learned I thought women could preach. He was warm and funny and tender hearted, a man who cried easily. He was also a man who would speak up for what was right, or what he thought was right, without fear of consequences. And then he could be dangerously indecisive when it counted most.
He loved God, and he loved his children, and he loved people and he loved life. I miss him.
Here is a poem from Rev Abi, one of the Rev Gal Blog Pals who writes here. I'm using this prayer at the prison chapel today, where many of the men who will be at services will be struggling with memories of absent, abusive, uncaring fathers--and some will be struggling as they face the fact that they themselves were an absent, or abusive or uncaring father.
We today pray for Fathers near and far.
We pray for Fathers alive and Fathers who are dead.
We pray for Fathers who were present with their children and those who were absent.
We pray for new Fathers and old Fathers.
We pray for those who loved well and those who did not love as well.
We pray for Fathers who play(ed) with their children and those who don’t.
We pray for those who take their fathering seriously and those who don’t.
We pray for biological dads and dads who raised us.
We pray for those who don’t get to be dads at all.
We pray for Fathers who were let down by their dads,
We pray for Fathers who were not loved by their fathers.
We pray for Fathers who missed out on the presence of fathers.
We pray for fathers whose fathers did not play with them.
We pray for Fathers who may be caught up in this recession and lost their jobs.
We pray for Fathers who serve in the military in far away places and lands.
We pray for Fathers who may be trapped by addictions.
We pray for Fathers who are serving in prison away from their children.
We pray for Fathers who are all wrapped up in their work too busy for their children.
We pray for our fathers.
We pray for them to have strength, wisdom and courage.
We pray for them to raise their children in the way that they should go.
We pray for them to love, laugh, play and live.
We pray for forgiveness for our fathers, for their shortcomings, their weaknesses, and their abuses.
And God we pray that we may then be able to pray to you Abba Daddy.