Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Before writing another word, I must confess my bias. Everyone's view of what is before them is affected by the lens through which they see. The church does not always handle a holiday like Father's Day (or Mother's Day) with a lot sensitivity toward those whose situations are less than traditional. When I was seven years old, my Father died. Five years later my Mother re-married and I became fortunate to have a second adult male in my life who helped steer me toward manhood. However, not every child is so fortunate. A lot of children are living in less than traditional homes. In some places Fathers are absent. In some places they are abusive to the point that adult children would like to remove them from their memory. The same kind of dynamics are present on Mother's Day as well and, perhaps, made even more difficult for some women who want to have a child but cannot, or who remember an abortion, or the death of a child through a miscarriage.
What is obvious is that these holidays are not such celebrative moments for many, but times which have to be endured while the rest of the church puts on party hats. Just as Christmas can be tough on those who suffer loss during the holiday season, so can these other holidays cause a lot of grief and pain. While some children are making gifts for Daddy in Sunday School, others are sitting more mindful than ever that there is no one to give such a gift. And our congregations are full of such children. They are filled with families whose scars make it impossible to just smile and go on as if nothing painful is happening.
It makes me wonder why the church has such a need to make such an issue of a secular holiday. Celebrating secular holidays is not a bad thing, but I often ask myself as it starts unfolding around me if doing it during the time the church gathers is not an inappropriate use of the moment given to us to offer worship and praise and glory to God. I often remember a clergy friend who was always more insightful than I am who kept asking us, "Are you going to preach the secular holiday, or are you going to preach the gospel lesson?" Each time he posed the question, those of who heard found ourselves experiencing the tension between the secular and the sacred.