The Festival of the Christian Garage

June 16, 2013

Talitha Arnold

"Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren."  Excerpt from Matthew 1:1-16

One spring our church staff met to plan the Sunday schedule. As our office manager leafed through the UCC desk calendar, he pointed out that Mother's Day had been renamed "The Festival of the Christian Home."

"Then what's Father's Day?" someone asked. Without missing a beat, our choir director responded, "It's the "Festival of the Christian Garage!'"

These semi-sacred secular holidays pose a challenge for the church. Given that the Bible doesn't offer particularly healthy models of parenting, what do we do with Father's Day or Mother's Day? Should we focus on "Father Abraham," who sent one son into exile and tried to sacrifice the other? Or Jacob who so favored one son that the other 11 brothers wanted to kill him?

The New Testament is equally challenging when it comes to fathers or parents in general. So far as we know, neither Jesus nor the Apostle Paul had kids. Jesus' only encounter with his own father was when the 12-year-old boy blew off his old man that day in the temple. Not exactly an inspiring text for Father's Day.

Things get more complicated when you consider our congregations. In the church I serve, families come in all kinds of configurations: single mother, single father, double father, double mother, mother-father. Our kids are being raised and loved by grandparents, foster parents, adoptive parents, and biological parents.

Parental love comes in many ways—just like God's love. Maybe what we need is simply a "People Who Care about Kids Day." I wonder if Hallmark would go along.

Prayer

Thank you, God, for all the people who have been like fathers—and mothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents - to us by offering us your love. Amen.

About the Author
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Worship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press.
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