Fathers!

from Rev. Bruce Wood - August 2015

Published in News First ó our monthly church newsletter

    

Mark Twain once said - Ďwhen I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to be around him.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven yearsí.

So, what it is that makes a father?  What do they contribute to a childís life?

If you were to ask the childís mother she might say something like - he is the one who throws them higher than anyone else - but hardly ever changes their nappies.  He is the one who takes all the family photos - but never wipes their noses.  He is the one who kicks the football with them - but rarely feeds them.  He is the one who lets them fall from their first bike - without having a heart attack.

And if you were to ask a father, he might say - Iím the one who re-tightened the clothesline after the kids had been swinging on it - before mum finds out.  Iím the one who let them make mistakes - and tried to patch them up later.  Iím the one who doesnít laugh at their dreams - no matter how impossible they are.  Iím the one who gets up at 1:00 am - when they need a lift home. 

Everyone has a different Ďnormalí, and there will be many variations on the picture I have just painted.  However, as dads we know that having a child is a huge commitment and will require far more from us than we had ever possibly imagined - AND - having a child is our personal investment in the future.

When I think of my dad - he was a strong man, who was also gentle - he was opinionated, and he would also listen - he worked hard, and he cried easily - he was proud of us kids, and found it very hard to say so - he was a very practical person, and he struggled with his emotions - he had advise for me when I was willing to ask, and even when I didnít ask - he was a man to look up to for a boy, and he frustrated me, with his opinions on everything.

Yet through all of that, he was also the strongest influence on my life, and it was only after he died, that I began to understand how much I was like him.  We seem to understand our parents far better when we become parents ourselves, and involve ourselves in the issues, and the questions, and the problems that go to make up the complex creatures we call children. 

All of us have a limited life span in which to make the most of the time we have with our dad.  So remember to spend some of your precious time with your dad.  Give him a hug for no other reason than heís your dad, and say those so precious words - I love you dad - often. 

And if you say, well, I didnít do any of those things, but I did think of him, and itís the thought that really counts - then you are mistaken.  Itís not our thoughts that counts - itís our actions that count - itís our actions that make a difference.
A thought is nothing but a thought, until we act on it.  Our actions, are what make a difference to the lives of those around us.

A short prayer for our dads

Loving God, we thank You for our fathers, who come in all shapes, all sizes, and all conditions.  We thank You for fathers who balance the demands of work, and marriage, and children with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice.

For fathers who lacked a good model of their own, yet have worked to become that good role model - and those who, despite divorce, have remained an integral part of their children's lives.

For stepfathers, who have freely chosen the obligation of fatherhood and earned their stepchildren's love and respect - for fathers who have lost a child to death, and continue to hold that child in their heart - and for men who cannot be fathers even when it is their greatest life wish.

For those who are about to become fathers - and for those fathers who have died, but live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us.

For children who are growing up without a father, and for parents who are taking on the role of both mother and father.

All of us are shaped by the relationship with our fathers.  And so we remember what it means to have a father, and be a father, we recognize the importance of fathers in our communities - and we commit ourselves to love and to nurture the fathers among us.  Amen.