This week, I had the opportunity to write over at Project Pomegranate like I did on Mother’s Day week. If you aren’t familiar, Project Pomegranate is an organization that provides non-directive spiritual resources for those who have experienced infertility, pregnancy loss, or infant death, and to engender support in their faith communities. If you know someone in this community looking for resources, their website is great place to start. Here’s the post I offered-
One of the hardest parts of being a couple going through infertility is anticipation of what will be said (or not said) in church, especially on special occasions like Mother’s or Father’s Day. Words really do matter. As a pastor who struggled with infertility myself and sat with other couples also struggling, the words I heard over and over about these days was, “Please talk about me. Don’t leave my story out on Sunday. If you do, we’ll come to church.”
It was good advice for it can be so easy for us to “brush over” the the non-traditional ways that men father in our world, or have fathers or long to be fathers. It’s no surprise that we like happy stories in the church that make sense and are straightforward to all. (Enter man with wife and X number of children beside him in the pews.) But real life is so much messier than this, isn’t it? Death, loss, divorce, miscarriage, failed IVF treatments or adoptions are all a part of what it means to be love a father or be a father. So why not take this opportunity on Sunday to name the multitude of many ways all of us connect to fathers, are fathers and hope to be fathers.
Below is a prayer I have used in congregational life on Father’s Day. Feel free to use or adapt in a way that fits your congregation’s needs as we all seek to be a welcoming as we can to all on Sunday morning!
Fathers meet us in some very different ways, and today we celebrate them all!
Thank God for the gift of fatherhood!
For those men who have left this earth and who we dearly miss.
Thank God for the dads whose legacy remain strong.
For those men for whom we had/ have difficult relationships as fathers.
Thank God for being our Dad when we needed You the most.
For those men raising his children now making sacrifices—rising early to make lunches, picking up from soccer practice and tugging kiddos in bed at night.
Thank God for the dads whose pace is so hectic today.
For those men who have taken in others’ children through adoption and foster care, showing us that the love of God far extends beyond biological ties.
Thank God for the dads with vision to include.
For those men who have lost a child to death or want to have a child and know they can’t without much trouble carrying on with the pain of lost dreams, often not being able to talk about it at all.
Thank God for the dads who carry heavy burdens.
For all the men in our community; who nurture us, support us and guide us in our becoming who show by their example fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.
Thank God for the dads who love unconditionally.
We thank you, Lord, for the men who have influenced our lives in so many ways. And lift our voices in your name, O Heavenly Father in whom we adore.