This Sunday is Father’s Day. Around the country children of all ages will be celebrating their dads.
With all my children grown, it has become a particularly enjoyable day for me. When they were little, I would get weird pancakes, half-cooked bacon and partially brewed coffee.
Now, I get treated to a nice restaurant.
Father’s Day does not have the heft of Mother’s Day. The experience of motherhood is quite different from the experience of fatherhood. But it is a nice holiday, nonetheless.
And for the dads who have tried to do it the right way, the day can be a wonderful time for celebrating family and an affirmation of their contribution.
Of course, the day won’t be joyful for all children – young and old. Not all experiences of fatherhood have been positive.
But for many, maybe for most, the day will be special.
The other experience of Father’s Day will be for those whose dads have died. This will be part of my experience of the day. While my own children will be honoring and feeding me, I will be grieving the death of my own dad. I lost him three years ago.
He was a good man – full of humor and wisdom. He was one of the best storytellers I have ever heard – and he had a treasure trove of stories.
He was a good teacher. He taught me how to shoot and hunt. He taught me to fish. He taught me to ride a bike and drive a standard transmission.
He also taught me how to treat people.
Dad treated all people he met with respect and kindness. And he would absolutely allow no prejudice to be expressed in our home.
He also taught me how to be a husband. He and my mom had a beautiful marriage for nearly 60 years. He was always so gentle with mom – and attentive.
The things I do right as a husband I probably learned from him.
He served his country with distinction in the U.S Navy. He was active during both the Korean conflict and Vietnam.
Mom was going through some of his personal items recently and was amazed to discover how many awards and commendations dad had earned during his time in the service.
About the only thing he did not do well was kick cigarettes. He was a two-pack-a-day smoker and, sadly, they finally took him down.
He died of lung cancer the day before Thanksgiving.
But that’s the way it is with dads – there are no perfect ones. There are some more skilled and accomplished than others, but there are none who are not flawed in some way.
The question could be posed whether Father’s Day rises to the level of a religious holiday. We in our church ask this question about Mother’s Day as well. Do these various celebrations of parenting deserve a special service of worship?
Every church will make its own decisions about questions like this. It is certainly biblical to celebrate the family, and there are plenty of Scripture passages devoted to the benefits of effective parenting.
Whether included in worship, there is great value in affirming the people who gave us life, and then helped teach us how to live.
And for the ones who took the time to do it right, we owe a debt of thanks.
(Disclaimer: This column was written from Panama City Beach where I am vacationing with all four of my children, their spouses and all three grandchildren. Happy Father’s Day!)
James L. Evans is a retired Baptist preacher living in Alabama. Over 35 years, he served churches in Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia. In support of his pastoral work, Evans published 5 books including “First and Second Corinthians: Immersion Bible Studies” (Abingdon Press (2011).