Some of you have asked whether I was going to craft a litany for Father’s Day as I did for Mother’s Day. I must confess that I don’t have nearly the same sentiment around Father’s Day as I do for Mother’s Day. I am blessed with a father who is magnificent and with whom I have an extraordinary relationship–a relationship many may find to be improbable or even impossible with their own father. (I was blessed with a mother who was also magnificent and with whom I had an extraordinary relationship. All of which ended way too soon.)
So I was less inspired by my own experiences around Father’s Day and more inspired by the experiences of some of you. I hope this litany does for men, fathers and their children the same things it did for women, mothers and their children at Mother’s Day. Once again, please feel free to use this litany as best fits for you and your context.
God of creation, you have been in the business of fathering children for generations.
On this day, we thank you for the fathers who have desired to do the same, who have contributed to the process of new life through creating children and adopting them. We thank you for the ways in which they teach us to love and care for ourselves and the world around us.
We pray for the men who deeply desire to become fathers but labor to do so. We ask that you provide hope in the midst of distress and struggle and that you remind these men that they are no less of a person because of imperfect biology.
We pray for the men who have loved and lost children–for whom this day is fraught with painful reminders of who and what they have lost. We pray that they may encounter you in new and different ways through other children in their lives and find peace.
We thank you for the men who have made a difference in our lives as fathers, who loved and cared for us in the ways you would. Who taught us how to work hard, enjoy what we do, and get outside and play.
We thank you for the men who have worked to be the best fathers possible but whose experiences of parenting have not matched their expectations. We ask that you bolster these fathers of children who may be prodigals, of children who make choices for themselves that may be different than what we would like. Remind them of the ways in which they lived up to your idea of fatherhood and that love and grace is neverending.
We thank you for the men who tried to be fathers, but who may have failed because they lacked the resources–emotional, financial, physical–required to be present as such. We pray for those sons and daughters who mourn the father they are or were not able to have, that they may find in you, and in this community, the deeply loving and nurturing presence they have missed.
We pray for those sons and daughters who are fatherless because of disease and death, that they may have a sense of your presence in the midst of their pain and the solace and joy that come with fond memories.
We pray for the sons and daughters of fathers lost to war–the ones created by man and the ones that brew within–that we might recognize the complexities of this world and work for peace in spite of them. In the meantime, we ask that you bring peace to these families.
We thank you for the ways in which our lives are shaped by our fathers, by our quest for fatherhood, and for fatherhood itself.
Above all, Creator, may we all work to be the kind of parent for our children and the children around us that you have been for your children for generations. Help us to look to your Spirit as a guide for being parent–for knowing how to love, when to speak, when to whisper, when to stay silent, how to play, how to nurture and comfort, and how to be present.
We ask these things of you, in the name of our Brother, Jesus. Amen.