There are two days when you are guaranteed over-crowding, slow service and tepid food in a restaurant: Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. But on Father’s Day you can dine where and when you want. Compared to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is simply not that big of a deal. Why?
Perhaps it is because fathers get an unfair share of authority, power and privilege. It is, after all, our father who art in heaven to whom we pray. While it is discriminatory that many of the heroic and faithful mothers and other women of the Bible remain forever unnamed, men and fathers still earn more for the same work. Mother’s Day is a thoughtful and well-intended acknowledgment of the countless things mothers do, often without acknowledgment, throughout the year.
Father’s Day is less of a holiday because, some say, fathers have a well-earned bad reputation. Rarely, for example, do we hear of a “Dead Beat Mom” (but they, of course, exist). And prisons are packed primarily with men, many of whom are fathers who have left mothers alone to raise their children in poverty. There is, perhaps, less to celebrate with fathers than with mothers. One year the kids in the Sunday school were painting rocks with words such as, “Peace” and “Love” as Father’s Day gifts. One father strolled by and muttered quietly to me, “Are these for the annual stoning-of-the-fathers?”
But fathers sometimes get a bum rap. How many men tower over quivering children and shout, “Just wait until your mother gets home!” Fathers walk in the door and before they can put their attaché case or toolbox down, the kids are running away from them. Fathers are stereotyped as the “discipliner” while mothers are stereotyped as the “nurturer.” On Father’s Day, partly because it is in June, we have our annual church BBQ and guess who is outside flipping the burgers and dogs during the worship service? One year the kids in the Sunday school were painting rocks with words such as, “Peace” and “Love” as Father’s Day gifts. One father strolled by and muttered quietly, “Are these for the annual stoning-of-the-fathers?”
Neither Mother’s Day nor Father’s Day are in the Bible. Hallmark Cards has more to do with them than Jesus. I propose we declare a Parent’s Day and invite every parent ~ father or mother ~ to the party. But that won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, let’s simply celebrate all fathers. Let’s beat our swords of shame and blame into plowshares ~ just for a day ~ and invite every biological, step, adoptive, gay or straight, custodial or non-custodial, incarcerated, infirm, dead-beat, dedicated, deployed, awesome, awful, addicted, working or unemployed, emotionally present and emotionally absent father into our churches, living rooms, back yards and restaurants and provide them with a real or virtual cupcake of love, joy and forgiveness as best we are able. Whether our fathers art in heaven, behind bars, in a bar, in a hospital, in a church or in our homes ~ let them also be in our hearts and may the grace of God the Parent of us all grant them a day of peace. Happy Father’s Day!