Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guest Rant

I may not go to church on Father's Day. I've been a father for 31 years and, frankly, I haven't been at very many Father's Day worship services that I much appreciated. That will probably raise the hackles on the necks of some of the pastors and others out there. But it's the truth. I don't like going to church on Father's Day. And I just might not go this year.

And this will probably further aggravate you-the primary reason I may not go to church is the sermon. I'm pretty sure what it will be. It will be about how fathers shirk their duties and really need to step up to the plate and be the fathers God calls them to be. I know that, because that's what it is always about. You see, in my experience, Father's Day in church is the exact opposite of Mother's Day in church-and it's not just because the sexes are different. On Mother's Day we get a sermon about how valuable mothers are in the lives of their children. We may hear about Timothy's mother and how she provided spiritual nourishment for him. We might hear about Mary under the cross, her heart breaking over her Son's death. But, you can rest assured that we'll hear about the value of mothers and how wonderful they are. And I don't disagree with that at all.

But, in my 31 years as a father, I can't remember a single Father's Day sermon that treated dads the way we treat moms on Mother's Day. I have left church every single time feeling beaten up and condemned because I couldn't live up to the standards given in those Father's Day messages.

I'll go to church 51 Sundays a year, sing the songs with gusto, revel in the forgiveness secured for me by my Savior, commune with His joy and peace in my heart, and leave uplifted, restored, and encouraged. But on this one Sunday, I really don't want to be there-don't want to get spiritually flogged one more time. Yes, curiosity and commitment will probably get the best of me and on June 21 I'll probably be in church-though I won't want to be there. I guess I'm daring my pastor to surprise me. Let me know my service as a father has been a valuable service. Remind me my own heavenly Father forgives, encourages, and empowers. Help me feel good about this important role God has me play in the lives of others. For those of us who have taken up the mantle of fatherhood and done the best we can, tell us about it. Go ahead! I dare you!


Mike said...

Here, here! I honestly can't recall what our pastor preached last Father's Day, but I can relate to what you're saying and I'll be looking forward to hearing this year's sermon. I don't want to set up an ambush for him, though, so maybe I should pass your posting on to him as food for thought. However, it's not just from the pulpit that we fathers are reminded of our shortcomings and failures. It's not politically incorrect to make fun of fathers, so we're an easy target. I'm tired of the disrespect, but what's a man do do? Whine and complain of hurt feelings? Heck no! Demand respect and be labelled a chauvinist? Not working for me so far. Father's have a definite roll defined by God, and it's just as important that our families and our society support and value that roll as it is for us to strive to fulfill that roll. That's what I'd like to hear in a sermon.

Mike Keith said...

I do not allow "Hallmark Holidays" such as Mother's day and Father's day to overshadow the Church Year. I preach the texts that are given for that Sunday in the Church year. I will include a prayer for mothes and fathers in the Prayer of the Church.

It seems ot me that in many churches Mother's Day has become a high holy feast! :-)

James Gomez said...

On the contrary, Mike K, I relish the opportunity these days provide! Nothing gets me geared up more than giving men the opportunity to be men, and to applaud it as God's design! Sacrifice is the name of the game here, and it's a MANLY role to play! Society has stripped men of their God-given ability to be tough, play rough, and work hard. But, a guy who is A GUY...is well on his way to being who God created him to be. If you lead, YAY! When you love your wife, YAY! If you discipline your kids, YAY! When you spend time together with the family, YAY! If you are physically & mentally present & engaged at home, YAY! When you slave away at work to provide for your family, YAY! We learn so much about our Heavenly Father by the models of loving earthly fathers...I just can't pass up the obvious parable provided for us that day!

Andy Ritchie said...

Could not agree more with your words. I am a second career pastor and I now do what I can to not beat up dad's like I heard too often when I was sitting in the pew! Maybe instead of withdrawing I might encourage you to make your pastor aware. We cannot fix it if we do not realize what we are doing. Would it not be great to have as many dad's in church on father's day as we have mom's on mother's day!? Next time I am up to preach father's day I'm bringing in about 20 or 30 recliners and picking dad's to come up and have a comfortable seat on that day! The gospel of Jesus will be preached and Jesus will be proclaimed. Fatherhood will be honored.

Josh Schroeder said...

My first thought after reading this blog post was similar to Pastor Ritchie's - have a discussion about this with your pastor!

If the Father's Day sermon is used to spiritually flog the dads in the congregation, where is the Good News (a.k.a. The Gospel)? Where is Jesus?

It sounds like your pastor's problem is that he's only preaching the Law to you guys. But the Law by itself can only lead to despair. Any good sermon will not just preach the Law based on the readings and the specific Sunday, but will apply the Gospel and tell you what Christ has done for us, usually specific to the readings.

If I were you, I would tell the pastor that I feel crushed by the Law on Father's Day and I'd remind him that I need to hear the Gospel, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry that you don't have good memories of Fathers Day sermons. I'm sure some pastors have a tendency to preach too much law, and not enough gospel. I suspect part of the problem is the way society today thinks of fathers. I do think we need some law preached in our Fathers Day sermons, as in all sermons. But all Lutheran sermons should have both law and gospel. I invite you to listen to the sermon we had at our church last Fathers Day. You can find it on the following website http://www.zionnp.org/site_template.php?templatelevel=ZION/ZLC/ZLCSERMONS, and then go to the sermon from 6/15/2008. You'll find a sermon entitled "Holy Dads". I think you will be uplifted.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I feel good after leaving church on father's day because I reflect on what the pastor says, and perhaps in my sin, I think "I'm not so bad after all!". My challenge as a leader after hearing a sermon that chastises fathers is to help lead myself and other fathers to be more Christ-like! Anyway, all sermons should have elements of law (showing me my sin and faults) and gospel (I am redeemed): look for both!

agedwirehead said...

As a sinner aware of much of my sin, I often think of my shortcomings.

While my boys were younger, I was amazed how impossible it is to be a perfect father. Now that they are both grown, I am amazed and blessed by how well they turned out.

What a marvelous experience to have them call for advice!

For those who are still blessed with rearing children, I have this to say: If you are beginning with the scriptures you are going the right way, even if you fail mightily in your immediate effort. A mind tempered by Scripture is mighty witness to those around you, and your children will not fail to see this.

And in charity remember that your children will likely fall short of the glory of God more than you do. Control your condemnation.

Scripture speaks quite a bit about fathers who failed. Samuel springs to mind, with David a close second. And God still loved these men.

It also speaks about our heavenly Father, true perfection, and not one of us can live up to his perfect example.

Jim Driskell said...

It seems to me that this is not only another symptom of the feminization of our society, but also of our church. I participated in the million man march back in the 90s (?), and it was past obnoxious. It was an ego trip for the guys who were on the podium preaching and it was further opportunity to bash men. Why should men go to church to listen to that stuff. Let's start creating a vision, give me something to get excited about and roll up my sleeves and do, give me a good old fashion locker room speech, "let's win one for Jesus", let's do those things that fire the imagination, make me want to charge out a closed locker room door. But frankly way too many sermons sound like the naggy, is never pleased wife. Frankly if I want that, there are plenty of places for me to go, but one of them should not be the church of Jesus Christ