Here's a thought for father's day (one I'm sharing in a completely form at messy church this morning)
There’s an ad on TV at the moment featuring a father bringing his baby girl home from hospital in the rain and then protecting her from a variety of hazards as she grows up. Finally, he sends her off to uni in her very own car; a make and model that will protect her as he has. It brings a tear to the eye and threatens to create a large hole in the bank balance…
It reminds me of the closing track on Paul Simon's lovely Surprise album where he sings 'I'm gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow; gonna paint a sign so you'll always know. As long as one and one is two, there could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you'. As the father of two daughters I know just how he feels.
A lot of dads will have woken up today to be greeted by cards and gifts and approximations of breakfast served in their beds. We’ve all had a dad; some of us are dads; and today we celebrate that – but why (other than to boost the profits of the greetings cards industry)?
It’s a chance to remember what our dads do for us – shoulder rides, making things, help with homework, rough and tumbles; lots of things to make us smile; the support offered through difficult times, the apparently constant presence when we're caught in a whirlpool of change...
And if we’re a dad, those memories serve as a reminder of what we’re meant to be: we want to be all the good things our dad was/is (and none of the bad ones!). It’s a blast being a dad but it’s also a huge responsibility. To some extent we’re the people we are because of our dads, so what kind of dad will I be to my children.
The book of Proverbs reminds us (in chapter 22 verse 6, according to the message) 'Point your kids in the right direction—when they're old they won't be lost' Or, as the NIV has it, 'Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it'.
And, of course, it’s a chance to recognize how grateful we are for dads who helped us on our way and tell them how much we love them.
And perhaps it’s also a chance to realize that however good our dad was and however well we’re shaping up in the fatherhood stakes, no human father is perfect. Maybe this is why when Jesus was looking for a term to sum up who God is, he chose ‘dad’. God is the perfect father who loves us outrageously, unconditionally, absolutely and completely each and every day.
So today, we have a chance to say thanks to him as well.