Sunday, June 19, 2022

Father's Day and Juneteenth

Today we have a variety of holidays to celebrate.  People who have good relationships with their fathers, or people who have children, may be celebrating Father's Day.  Some of us will go to church, as we normally do, although if you're like me, we may not know what normal looks like anymore.

If I was preaching today, would I talk about Father's Day?  Or would I talk about Juneteenth?  Both holidays offer interesting ways of thinking about our relationship to God.

Do we see God as a Father?  And if so, is that a loving parent or a judging parent?  I'm not crazy about the idea of God as Parent (of either gender). I think that God as Parent is an infantilizing metaphor. If God is a Dad (or so much more rarely, a Mom), then it follows that we're children, and too often, we see that as a reason for inactivity. But God needs us to be active in the world. I'd go further and say that God is counting on us. I much prefer the idea of God as partner. God can be the Senior partner; I'm cool with that.

Juneteenth offers other questions.  What enslaves us?  How are we benefitting from the oppression of others?  God offers us freedom, but can enslaved humans and oppressing humans fully appreciate that liberation?  How can we break free to become the humans God invites us to be?

It could be interesting to consider these questions in tandem, to ask about questions of agency.  What helps us grow?  What makes us wither?  What makes us strong?  What breaks our spirit in ways that echo across generations?

These questions are always essential, but they seem even more important as we approach the Solstice.  We are at a midpoint of the year.  We will never have more daylight this year than we have over the next few days.  For many of us, it may feel like we get extra time in the day, even though every day only offers us 24 hours.  Let us use this space to analyze where we are right now and where we want to be.

A juxtaposition of holidays and observances gives us new opportunities to consider essential questions in different lights.  Let's make use of today's juxtapositions.  Let us correct our trajectories if need be.

Let us be free and work to free others.

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