I have been thinking again …

… about fathers.

This Sunday we celebrate again our fathers and those who have been father figures in our lives. As one who still grieves the loss of my father over six years ago, I can only encourage all of you if you are able to take this opportunity to let them know what they mean to you.

A good friend of mine wrote recently about her father:

“Hey dad!

I missed you so much.

I missed your smile

And caring touch.

Hey dad,

Are you there?

Today is rough, and God

I need you so much!”

The difference between her and me is that her father is still alive. She sees him every day. Many see their father on a regular basis and grieve — like my friend — the loss of the man they once knew. For some, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia has stolen their minds. For others, their bodies have been devastated by cancer or Parkinson’s or some other illness.

And we in the church have been guilty of ignoring them or — even worse — giving them false hope. I am not saying that healing does not happen. Cancer will go in remission. Recovery does happen. But in the end, as a church member who recently died of cancer reminded me: “None of us gets out alive. None of us knows what is on our path or what will turn up on our plate when we least expect it. We are all just trying to get from one day to the next with as much dignity as we can muster when we are covered with the muck of this world. Everyone has something to say grace over, and what we need to offer one another is compassion and sympathy — empathy, where that’s possible.”

So, where is God in the midst of this? God is right there alongside us, struggling with us, crying with us, and — finally — dying with us. As Paul wrote to the Romans: “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

So when I hear my friend cry out as she approaches this Father’s Day, I know that God is crying out, too:

“Hey dad.

Today you gave me a smile;

One I haven’t seen

In a very long while.

Hey dad,

Do you see me? I’m here …

With every smile;

Through every fear.

(I swear I’m here)

Hey …. Dad, …

Hey ….

Dad …?

Dad???

Are you there?”

So hug your father when and where you can this Father’s Day. Let him know how much he means.

And if you are grieving a father who is not there in body or mind, know that God as a father holds you this day and for all days.

The Rev. David Armstrong-Reiner is pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Ga. Highway 20 in Conyers. Contact him at

pastor.david@conyerselc.org.

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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