Generally, in Australia anyhow, Father’s Day seems more important to automotive goods stores and Harvey Norman than anyone else. And fathers don’t seem too upset about that.
A pat on the back, and a “Thanks, Dad” is enough for most; we’re mainly low-key about fathers. In a lot of television sit-coms since the 1960s they’ve pretty much played the standard butt-of-the-joke role, and no one complained about that.
Yet, more and more, a quality father-figure is seen as critical to the development of healthy, well-adjusted people.
In a gender-charged time, which the Western world is currently experiencing, discussing a distinct role for fathers is fraught, but the West’s zeitgeist shouldn’t stop a people who have been called into being for 3500 years and are present across all cultures, from discussing such a fundamental role in society.
Generally, the Judeo-Christian tradition names the role of father as establishing, protecting and upholding.
So there’s something there that’s more structural, that defines and sustains a space, a relational space in which family and individual life can find its own particular and unique flourishing.
Maybe in that Australian low-key approach is a resonance of the biblical themes of fatherhood. This space is about providing confidence and security to grow, to discover.
But if fatherhood is about establishing, protecting and upholding, it’s not necessarily distant, secondary or hidden; it can also be, and should be, close and personal.
The experience of living under fatherhood should be about knowing we are known, more than we know ourselves, and in that knowledge, knowing we are loved, we are secure.
That was my experience, and it didn’t just come from my father, it also came from my church. My church told me that fatherhood was one way I could understand God’s relationship to me; my church told me it was a way I can understand who God is.
In the life of God which the church has encountered, we named our experience in terms of God who creates and sustains life; who is present to creation and yet distinct from it; we also named God as present in Jesus, who stands irrevocably in solidarity with us; we named God as present through the Spirit, who brings us out of ourselves, who calls us into community.
So fatherhood occupies a particular role for our health and wellbeing; however you experience it, may it call you into life, and life in all its fullness.
Rev David Baker
Moderator, Queensland Synod