Last Sunday at The Austin Stone Community Church, Story Team and Austin Stone Worship collaborated on a Father’s Day reading for our services. Meredith Davis, one of our talented Story Team writers, wrote the poem The Longing and the Love for us, and our campus pastors read it during some of our Sunday services.
We’ve used poetry before in our services as part of two preaching series. Two years ago the crew at Humble Beast provided five spoken word films for our fall Vision Series, and then last Christmas we filmed four poems, three from John Piper and an original by Lindsey Lundin. All of these poems were effective in helping our congregation to focus their attentions and affections on Jesus and His mission, which laid the foundation for further use of poetry.
This poem for Father’s Day is the first one Story Team and Austin Stone Worship have collaborated on specifically for a call to worship.
A Father’s Day Call to Worship
We wanted this poem to minister to our people on a day that can bring widely varying emotions. Additionally, it gives us a chance to bring another form of art into the Sunday service in a way that fits with our vision and goals for that gathering.
Father’s Day is a day of celebration. We honor our fathers and thank them for all that they have done for us. But while many people are doing just that, many, many others struggle with more complex emotions. Whether it’s because of abuse, abandonment, or other more nuanced issues, many people find Father’s Day to be full of confusion, anger, or sadness. Many others grieve over the loss of a beloved father. And we cannot forget that there are many who never knew their father at all. So our first goal was for all of those in attendance on Sunday to feel acknowledged, loved and cared for, regardless of their circumstances.
Second, we must not forget that Father’s Day is a secular American holiday. The Bible commands us to love and respect our fathers, but it does not outline a day to so. When we think through a Christian understanding of celebrating fatherhood, we must remember that earthly fathers are not the final word on fatherhood. Even the best father on earth is only a shadow of the goodness of our perfect Father God. All of our longings for a good father on earth cannot be satisfied in the form of a man. Only our Father in heaven can fill those shoes. This poem needed to remind the congregation of this truth.
Finally, and most importantly, we wanted to stir our people’s affections for God. Our longings for that perfect father are found in Him. We wanted to celebrate the good fathers, comfort hurting children, and grieve with those who lost their dads, but more than that, we wanted to point our congregation’s hearts to God. I hope and pray this poem did just that.