"Father's Day" & "The Fatherless"

LIMITATIONSImage by whologwhy via Flickr
Well, yesterday was "Father's Day."  I have to confess that I try to "tapdance" around this and "Mother's Day."  I understand the importance of fathers and mothers.  I appreciate fathers and mothers.  However, I recognize that some of our folk...some of any church actually...never knew their biological mothers and fathers.  And we have folks who, because they couldn't have children of their own, went the adoption route and were wonderful, loving parents.  And we know some folks who are just trying...hard...to become parents and have (so far) been unsuccessful.  So, what does "Father's Day" mean for them?

At my wedding today I saw some folks I knew and wished one of them a Happy Father's Day and was told, not rudely, but bluntly, "I don't celebrate Father's Day."  There's probably a story there somewhere.

I know that the holiday is mostly a Hallmark-ready day, with cards and phone calls.  And I know that it can lead into a sappiness that we want to avoid.  But I'm aware of my own father and the relationship we have and have had.  I'm aware of my own joys with fathering and teaching and leading my own children.  I want to celebrate all of this.  I think fathering (as well as mothering) is important and we have too many people in the world who have had bad experiences with their own fathers and mothers.  We don't have enough good role models out there.  We should celebrate that we have some good ones.  And, as we look at Jesus, we know that at least the understanding of "Father" was an important one to him.  It was a way that he related to God and understood God and communicated God.

It is with these reflections going on in my mind after worship yesterday that I read Jamie Arpin-Ricci's missional church blog called "A Living Alternative: A Missional Pilgrimage."  It's a great blog that has helped me as I've gotten into a theology of the "Missional Church."  Jamie has struggled to become a father and has, as he says, mixed feelings about the day--particularly seeing so many 20-somethings with broken relationships with the fathers in their lives.  It's a good read. It is closed out with the following:

It is with this significance in mind that we must understand our call, as the Church, to be fathers to the fatherless.  This is not a poetic way of saying that we need to fund orphanages and combat divorce trends.  Both of these things are good, but when God calls us to be a father to the fatherless, He calls us to follow His example of genuine relationship and sacrificial love.  He calls us to an active love that blasts through the boundaries of cultural propriety and familial loyalties- not the detriment or neglect of our own families, but through the conviction that God is calling us to a devotion to Him and others that must rival all others.

Our world is filled with the fatherless- and in more than just the literal meaning.  This is call to extend the Father’s love to others is not some project or program that interested Christian might get involved with, but rather it is a defining characteristic of what it means to follow Jesus Christ.  And it is a commitment that should not be driven by guilt (though conviction for our failing to do so is surely important), but driven by the same thing that drove Christ to pay the highest price for us: LOVE.

I'm father to five kids.  How am I being a father to the fatherless around me?


  1. you just help the fatherless find our Father who art in Heaven. This means me as i lost my male role models 11 years ago, father and grandfather in the same month. Thanks for the love, chris hunt.