For Father’s Day at The Austin Stone, we asked one of our writers to create a poetic call to worship to use in our services. We’re sharing it with you today in hopes that you might find it useful this weekend.
With this poem we want to remind our people that the longing we all carry for a good earthly father can only be satisfied in our perfect Father. Yes, Father’s Day is a celebration of our dads and time to show them that we love them, but for believers we should remember that our earthly fathers are a representation, a partial image, of God the Father.
We also hope to recognize and speak words of love to those for whom Father’s Day is difficult. While many people in our churches will spend Sunday celebrating the gift of a loving father, just as many will be dealing with more complex emotions. Whether it be mourning the loss of their father, suffering through the pain of separation, or healing from abuse at the hands of one who should have protected them, many of the people in our church and yours will not see Sunday as a day for celebration. We hope this poem ministers to them and is a reminder that whatever the failings of their human father, their longings for a good Father will be realized one day.
We are praying that on Sunday these words will bring hope, encouragement and joy to our church as they both celebrate and mourn the reality of fatherhood on earth, and also long for our Father in Heaven.
The Longing and the Love
We long for the perfect protection of a father,
for strong arms that encircle us,
hold us tight to a broad chest,
a beating heart.
Arms that toss us into the air,
screaming with laughter and a little fear,
even though we know those arms will always catch us.
From the moment we gasp our first breath of air, we long for the perfect father.
We long for a father who sacrifices,
who lays down his time to play games, read our favorite book one more time,
or take a long walk and listen.
Who reaches into his pocket and pulls out a dollar for ice cream.
Who reaches deeper to provide a good home, good food, and good gifts.
We long for a father who always protects, always cheers, and always sacrifices.
Some of us are blessed to find bits and pieces of these longings
met in human form,
Like sun through stained glass—a brilliant picture,
illuminated by our Father who satisfies these longings.
We thank God for fathers who protect,
who encourage with strong words, and strong convictions,
fathers willing to sacrifice,
striving to love.
But some of us are grieving.
Grieving the loss of a good father,
or the lack of one.
Some never knew their father’s arms,
and some bear scars,
on skin and soul,
dealt from a father’s swinging arms.
At some point, all of us are left longing.
No human father can perfectly satisfy.
Look up and know your Father in Heaven gave you these longings,
and only He can perfectly fulfill them.
His strong arms protect,
His words bring life and light.
His perfect sacrifice draws us to His side,
where we can hear His heart beating with perfect love for us.
We celebrate our fathers on earth,
and our Father in heaven.
We give thanks for the longing,
and give thanks for the love.