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Fathers Day

Holding the baby

Unlike Mothering Sunday, Fathers Day holds no place in the church calendar. Yet over the past fifty years it has grown massively in importance within UK culture. Children will prepare for it with the same enthusiasm as they employ for their mums. The Church is sometimes reluctant to engage with, yet alone enjoy, these kinds of cultural events, taking a cynical or even a slightly superior attitude towards an occasion invented by the card industry. Yet there is also an increasing awareness in the Church of the need to communicate with men, and part of that is to affirm fathering. This service uses readings specially chosen for the day and offers ideas that allow us to give thanks for the fathering we have known in our lives, remember the disappointments, pray for families, and encounter in unexpected ways the God who is Father of all. This outline could be used on a Sunday in church or in another location at another point during the week the school hall after Saturday football practice, for example.

A selection of mens birthday and other cards, showing stereotypical mens activities A photo of a dad throwing and catching baby, e.g. from a birthday card or by searching Internet images A card or screen with the word Trust A selection of items (or pictures of them), e.g. a football, laptop, hammer, carrier bag, baby sling A computer ready for use; a projector lined up and ready for screen or suitable wall Mini credit cards with a picture of a father and child on one side and a short Scripture on the back, e.g. Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for God shields them all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders (Deuteronomy 33.12, NIV, adapted). (These can be made using a desktop publishing programme or by hand.) Single red roses to give away A copy of the Luther Vandross song, Dance with my father again or Eric Clapton, In my fathers eyes, or Professor Green, At your inconvenience (a bit radical!), and the means to play it

key readings
Deuteronomy 32.6b14 God lets us soar John 15.9 11 (1217) Love and fruitfulness

Before the service


You will need to put up a large sheet of paper or old sheet divided into four sections with the heading: Things about Dads. The sections are headed: glad, sad, special, funny. As people (of all ages) arrive, invite them to go over to the sheet and write things into the different sections. Delay the start of the service to allow everyone to have a go! If you want you could put a short explanation nearby, e.g. 69

Preparation
You will need

A large piece of paper or old bed sheet and marker/fabric pens An indoor goal net or basket-ball hoop A container with lots of small balls, e.g. table-tennis size, and an empty bucket OR a dartboard

THE SERViCE ouTliNES Please write as many things as you like. You could also write about a granddad or step-dad . . . or memories from long ago.

Glad things you are thankful for, e.g. My dad makes great burgers! Sad things that are difficult, e.g. I still miss my dad after twenty years. Special things that are unique, e.g. My dad can stand on his head. Funny things that make you laugh, e.g. When Dad plays air guitar.

feel sad by coming forward and picking up a ball and placing it in the bucket in front of the net, just as if we had missed the goal. While we do this some music will play. Voice All Voice All Voice All We are sad because we have hurt other people. Lord, have mercy. lord, have mercy. We are sad because we have been hurt by others. Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. We are sad for all the hurts in Gods world. Lord, have mercy. lord, have mercy. (Listen to some music, e.g. Luther Vandross, Dance with my father again, or Eric Clapton, In my fathers eyes, or Professor Green, At your inconvenience, as people move forward to place the balls in front of the net. When everyone has returned to their seats:) Minister May the God of love and power forgive us and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.1

wE GATHER
opening hymn informal welcome
Making ready
Invite different people to say each sentence from different parts of the church.
Voice 1 Voice 2 Voice 3 Voice 4 Voice 5 Thank you, God, for our dads. Thank you, God, for our mums. Thank you, God, for our families. Thank you, God, for the family of the Church. Thank you, God, that you are our God and Father. (Invite everyone to join in a Mexican wave praise shout moving up and down the church. Each row is invited in turn to jump up, wave arms high and shout: Thank you, God! To make this effective it is best to have one or two leaders who are enthusiastically running up and down the aisle, reminding each row when it is their turn to stand, raise their arms and shout.) All Thank you, God!

All

Gloria/hymn or song Collect for the day or this prayer


NB: Please see note on the collect or prayer for the day in How to use this book (p. 14).
Minister Heavenly Father, you sent your Son Jesus to show us your love and lead us into freedom, help us to share that love with our families and our friends, and to learn from you how to bring life to the world. Amen.

we say sorry
All

Making connections
Minister In all our services we take time to think about things that have gone wrong, even on a happy day like this. Fathers get it wrong, children get it wrong, everyone gets it wrong. Sometimes its our fault, sometimes its just that there are bad and sad things in our world. Sin is an old word meaning to miss the mark, so this morning, after the words, we are going to say sorry or

wE liSTEN
Reading(s)
Suggestion: if using only one reading, choose Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy: see The Message for a different version.

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FATHERS DAY

John: read verses (Contemporary English Version Bible). There are also some moving poems and readings about being a father, e.g. First lesson by Phyllis McGinley2; Starlight by Philip Levine3 or, if you have the technology, you might like to go to Michael Rosens website and show one of his poems, e.g. Dont tell your mother or Im tired (they are all funny!). He also has some moving poems about the loss of his son.

Invite a parent and child to come to the front and demonstrate the trust game (where the child has her back to the father and then falls backwards, knowing the father will catch her). Thats the real heart of the relationship. Or, if you cant get a volunteer to do this, then simply get a dad to walk about with a smaller child (under three) high on his shoulders.
God is a Father and sometimes the sort of picture we have of God the Father is that of a safe old man, who is cuddly and, well, a bit tame. God is a cuddly Dad when we need a cuddly Dad especially for those times when we are sad, or when our own parents have not been there for us or have even hurt us. But God is also a God of adventure who wants to bring his people into life. We love dads because they are fun. We love them because they provide for us. We love them because they can fix things when they are broken. But most of all we love them because they love us . . . and its the love that allows us to trust them for all the other things. The love of our families dads, mums, brothers, sister, grandparents and others all of it helps us to understand Gods great love. Today we especially give thanks for fathers and remember that God is our Father we can trust him, love him and play!

Talk
Invite some people either to bring the banner to the front or to read things from it. Talk about it with the congregation, add other memories. Say something similar to:
Dads are clearly pretty amazing!

Show lots of mens birthday cards with football, cars, fishing, drinking.
They are clearly an active bunch who take risks, do things, and have fun.

Show picture of baby being thrown and caught. Dads are usually the ones who play these kinds of adventurous games, bringing laughter and joy.
An interesting observation of family life is this: the first parent to throw a baby into the air is almost always Dad. It is Dad who pushes the swing that little bit too high, Dad who encourages the climb to the top of the slide or to run that bit further into the sea. Mum is usually sitting by saying, Take care! Fathers teach us about risk . . . and about trust. Parenting is good news it is a delight and a joy, bringing us times of play and laughter. But there is another side of the coin: many people feel abandoned and lost by those who should parent them. Jesus reaches out to them to show the love of the Father, for fathering is also about compassion and care, providing and loving, as well as fun and laughter . . . and underpinning all these things is the big T word: Trust.

wE RESPoND
Creed or statement of faith Making connections
Minister Weve been thinking about love and about families, so lets stand and speak out together what we believe: we believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. we believe in God the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love. we believe in God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high. we believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.4

All

(You could put this word on a card or screen.)


The reading from Deuteronomy tells us the same kinds of thing. Its a wonderful word picture of God enjoying his people, soaring with them on high, feeding them the best things, exploring the world. Its a joyful and fun image of relationship. Jesus talked about the same relationship with God the Father, a relationship that will be full of delight and, yes, fun!

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THE SERViCE ouTliNES

Prayers
Either invite people to hold out the items or pictures or show them on a screen. You could also invite a dad to type the words of the prayers live onto the pictures. Use different generations of fathers, mothers and children to hold items and to pray, using one or more voices, adapting as appropriate to your situation. Hold out football or similar item, or show picture.
Voice God our Father, thank you for all the fun things in our lives, for freedom to play and moments of laughter. We remember today those whose lives are sad because they are alone or afraid or unable to be with those they love. Help them to know that you are their Father. Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer. (Hold out laptop or similar item, or show picture.) Voice God our Father, thank you for the work that goes on in our world, in offices and factories, in shops and schools, in fields and hospitals. We pray that as our dads and others go about their work they will know your presence and that you will help them to work with wisdom and honesty. Lord in your mercy . . . hear our prayer. (Hold out shopping bag or similar item, or show picture.) Voice God our Father, thank you for our homes and families and for our food. We remember those in the world who are struggling because of war and injustice, especially children who have no one to provide for them. Help us to share what we have with them and give courage to all who work for peace. Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer. (Hold out baby sling or similar item, or show picture.) Voice God our Father, thank you for your love for each one of us. Help us in this church to show that love to one another and to the community around us so that everyone may come to know that you are a Father to all. Lord, in your mercy . . . hear our prayer.

Suggestion: if this is a Eucharist, use children and families to bring up bread and wine and to take offering where appropriate. When the table is ready, invite a father and children or a group of dads/ granddads to say the offertory prayer using this form:
Voices All All With this bread that we bring (hold out bread) we shall remember Jesus. With this wine that we bring (hold out wine) we shall remember Jesus. Bread for his body, wine for his blood, gifts from God to his table we bring. we shall remember Jesus.6

All

Suggestion: Use Eucharistic Prayer D using same group to say the This is our story refrain. (During the distribution of communion, invite children and others to continue writing things on the large sheet/paper.)

wE Go ouT
If you are using roses to give away, invite some children to bring them to the front and pray:
Minister Lord our God, thank you for the gift of fathers, for all they show us of your love, for all the joy they bring us, for all the laughter we share. Be with them in times of play and times of rest, in times of delight and times of despair, in the beauty and in the sadness, in their work and in their homes on this and every day. Amen.

Blessing
Minister May the God who is Father to all the world be close to you. May the Son who showed us the way to God lead you. May the Spirit who brings us together in love enfold you and the blessing of God, Father, Son and Spirit, be with you and those you love, this day and always. Amen.

If this is a non-eucharistic service, use the Lords Prayer to gather the prayers together. If it is a Eucharist, end prayers in the usual way.

All

The peace
Minister God makes peace within us let us claim it. God makes peace between us let us share it. The peace of the Lord be with you and also with you.
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The dismissal
Voice All Voice We go in joy and laughter. we go! We go to play and to share.

All

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FATHERS DAY All Voice All Voice All Minister All we go! We go to learn and to love. we go! We go in the name of God, Father, Son and Spirit. we go! Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. in the name of Christ. Amen.

As people leave the church give either a single rose or a small credit card with a picture of a father and child on one side and a short Scripture on the back, e.g. Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for God shields them all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders (Deuteronomy 33.12, NIV).

Notes
1 2 3 4 5 6 New Patterns for Worship, London: Church House Publishing, 2008, p. 97, B80. From Michele Guinness (ed.), Tapestry of Voices: Meditations in Celebration of Women, London: Triangle, 1993. From Neil Astley (ed.), Being Alive, Tarset: Bloodaxe, 2004. New Patterns for Worship, p. 166, E12. The St Hilda Community, New Women Included: A Book of Services and Prayers, London: SPCK, 1996, p. 55. Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, London: Church House Publishing, 2000, p. 292.

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