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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Things I Don't Want to Talk About Here

On the Christian calendar, it's "Ordinary Time" right now.  Not surprisingly, ordinary time actually makes up a majority of the year.  I guess that coincides with the fact that our lives are ordinary most of the time.  If they weren't... well... ordinary would be redefined.    

It seems that I can never hear the word ordinary without thinking of this particular paraphrase of Romans 12:1-2:

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you" (MSG, emphasis mine).

We've mixed up what we're supposed to be doing during ordinary time with what the culture dictates.  I am reminded of that on this American holiday, "Father's Day".

Now, let me be abundantly clear.  I think it's fine for us to celebrate Father's Day.  My family celebrated Father's Day, today, and there is nothing quite like having your kids decorate the envelope for Daddy's card (only to find out you accidentally gave them the envelope for the card you bought and they aren't the same size), or finding the perfect card that is so funny (and not age appropriate for the children) you have to issue a warning about not reading it out loud, or hitting multiple fast food chain stores when the frozen Coke machine isn't working at the first one, or reflecting on how amazing your husband (or father or baby daddy or whatever) is.  It's been a good day like that around here.  But I think "card holidays" are best observed (or not observed) outside the walls of the local church... maybe like birthdays... since we all have unique stories... 

Let me explain.

Father's Day is painful for a lot of people.  I can't tell you how many nice FB posts I've seen today made by families who have wonderful fathers, but they are interspersed with just enough painful posts that I know not everyone is having a good time today.  And let's face it, the brokenness that is expressed in silence is even louder than those. 

Our local churches try to spin this holiday in so many ways.  I have no doubt that every time a pastor gets up on this Sunday in June and preaches about the love of the heavenly father; she means well.  The pastor who uses humor in an attempt to shame (I mean shape) the fathers who are present into being someone they are not?  He means well, too.  And the pastor who desperately tries to make Father's Day as amazing as Mother's Day was, last month, by praising the accomplishments of those dads who do it all right and teach their boys how to hunt, fish, and kill other assorted things?  She's really trying.  But... dads... even really good dads... don't all conform to the same patterns.  Can I please just say that I, for one, am exceedingly glad there is nothing dead hanging in my home?  For crying out loud, my eight year old thought a friend of ours had killed Sven (from Frozen) when we were at a Christmas party last year!

Wow.  I think I just realized what a soapbox issue this is for me.  Maybe it's because my own husband had to endure a video, this morning, that left him thinking about how he doesn't fit the mold associated with all of that "perfect dad" stuff.  Give me a break!  If you read what my thirteen year old daughter had to say about him, you would know it doesn't make a shred of difference whether he enjoys shooting animals or not!

And this is just a quirky little piece of the life of my own family, where we actually have it pretty good.  If we can walk away from a Father's Day worship gathering feeling awkward; the damage done to other people on this day must be devastating.

I think it's sort of like Mother's Day, where our churches have tried to become more sensitive over the years, celebrating all women and not just mothers.  If I may be frank (which I may, since this is my blog and all), some of the absolute worst Sundays of my life were Mother's Days when I wasn't a mother but was still presented with a flower to go home and plant, but, you know, since I didn't do that planting thing, I just watched it die over the next few days, sort of as a slow and painful reminder that I wasn't a mother...

Why do we do this?

Can we not just preach about ordinary time and the ways in which we should all be becoming more like Jesus?  Is it so offensive to accept that most of the days of our lives are not going to be extraordinary, and we shouldn't make stuff up in order to break up the rhythms of life that are actually life giving?  When we allow culture and themes and holidays that are less than holy days to permeate our corporate worship, I think we miss something.  In fact, I know we do, because I recently heard about a pastor who insisted on keeping prayer short if there was a card holiday related video that needed to play, and I know there are churches where Scripture isn't even read on a weekly basis, because there's not enough time to fit it in!

May God help us.  This is not the Church.



  1. We had a VBS rehash from the previous week so father's day was mentioned during prayer but it wasn't a huge to-do. No father's day gifts were handed out. I don't recall mother's day getting much to-do this year either. I do understand that many have not had good relationships with their parents and many long to be parents so these days can be painful; but I believe that centering a message towards fathers on father's day has been handled fantastically in the past even taking it beyond our earthly father and looking toward our heavenly Father. We have such a breakdown of the family in today's society that I believe messages on good Christian parenting is totally appropriate.

    BTW: I really enjoy all the tributes to Dads and Moms that people post on FB. I think they're great.

  2. Debby -

    You might check out the blog post, linked below, which was much more charitable toward Father's Day in the church and touched on some of what you are saying in your comment:

    I am in agreement with you that we should be encouraging families. In some ways, the most difficult thing for me to handle about messages that are crafted specifically for Mother's Day or Father's Day is that they seem to be dictated by culture (this is the day we *have* to talk about this stuff, because there's a card holiday) and then forgotten the rest of the year. Sometimes I feel like we are looking for a "quick fix" when we should be looking for sustainable teaching that changes our lives and leaves us in a place where we don't *require* a quick fix!

    Also, since I am apparently a little more optimistic, today, than I was yesterday... I'll admit that I really like the FB tributes, as well. I made one, myself, and I absolutely think that moms and dads should be celebrated! I just want it to be real, in the context of family (or people who have become family), and ongoing.

    Thank you for your thoughts on this. They are valuable.