Note: The following was my tribute to my dad (Art Joyce) at his Memorial Service in February 2018:
I am going to talk a bit about my dad, a bit about the Lord’s Prayer and why the two are connected in my mind.
As most parent – child relationships, there are some ways that my dad and I were very different and some ways we were quite alike.
- My father was tall. I am not.
- My father loved golf. I do not.
- My father was neat. I am not.
My father and I shared a love of Fritos, math and my mother – not necessarily in that order and not exclusive of other shared passions.
When I think of my dad, a word that jumps to my mind is ‘Solid’.
My father was solid both in physical appearance and in character. When you are a child, it is good to have someone or something that is solid in your life. Nice to have someone to hang on to, something to steady yourself upon.
So why is the Lord’s Prayer linked in my mind to my father?
The first line of the Lord’s Prayer begins Our Father who art in heaven.
This line says that we should have a father. What I recognized, as a child, is that it also strongly implies that your father’s name should be ‘Art’. In case you didn’t hear it, I’ll say it one more time: Our Father, WHO Art in heaven.
Now as a child, I didn’t even know anyone else aside from my brother and sister who had a father named Art, but I did and I thought that was pretty cool.
A couple of weeks ago, as I sat in my father’s hospital room while he slept, I thought about the Lord’s Prayer. So I did what I generally do when thoughtful and curious and I googled the Lord’s Prayer.
I learned that the Lord’s Prayer was given by Jesus to his followers as an example of how to pray. It was a sample prayer, a ‘Starter Set’ if you will. I also learned that studies have been done that show that saying the Lord’s Prayer in particular promotes a sense of well-being. The people running the study attributed this to the use of the plural pronouns in the prayer… ‘give US our daily bread’… ‘deliver US from evil’ – it reminds us that we are all in this together.
This isn’t like the letter to Santa about what I want for my life in particular, but about what my neighbor, my friend, my family, my community need. The study said people have a greater sense of calmness and well-being if they think about others
The Lord’s Prayer seemed to be a regular in this church – like my dad. It consists of relatively few words – again, like my dad. And as I sat in his hospital room, I decided that in the coming weeks and months I will recite the Lord’s Prayer regularly to steady myself and give myself something to hang on to. And now, I’d like to ask you to please join me in reciting the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, forever.
Note from today amid the pandemic: We all need something or someone to hang on to, to depend upon. My Dad taught me to be that person. To have faith in the my family and community as well as a belief that there is something out there greater than just you or I.
Thanks, Dad. I love you.