July 24, 2010
While back in High School, my youngest son Andrew had a tremendous experience as Daddy Warbucks in his BCCA school’s Annie musical . He even shaved off his hair to really get into the part! The entire school rallied around the musical, resulting in a great sense of school spirit and camaraderie. Thanks to the hard work of the drama teacher Mrs. Birth and the music teacher Mrs. Gleimus, the participants blossomed and became a close-knit team. I was very impressed by the quality performance of all the youth that put their heart and soul into the production.
The 9-year-old girl who played Annie was superb. One person commented that she was as good as the original Annie! Her fellow orphans were cute, endearing, and believable, especially in the song ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life”. Another real star in the show was the orphanage director Miss Hannigan, who demonstrated a wonderful slapstick humour: “Why any kid would want to be an orphan, I’ll never understand”. And who can forget the good-natured BCCA Principal Mr. Jarvie who surprised everyone when he was wheeled in as President Roosevelt!
The Annie musical was based on Harold Gray’s “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip. Harold Gray invented Little Orphan Annie in 1924 for the Chicago Tribune. Ironically Harold Gray did not start his comic strip with a little orphan girl, but rather with a boy named Otto (Little Orphan Otto!)
The Annie musical began at the Alvin Theatre on April 21, 1977. The New York show went for 2,377 performances, making it the third longest running musical of the 1970s. In 1982, the movie version was released starring Albert Finney, Aileen Quinn, Ann Reinking, and Carol Burnett.
One of my favorite songs from the Annie Musical is ‘Tomorrow’. Going through a bitter 1930’s depression, it gave people great hope to remember that ‘The sun will come out tomorrow’. It is easy to be stuck in the past, in fear and discouragement. The ‘Annie’ musical reminds us to be future-oriented. To believe in the future gives us the courage to face each day’s challenges. “Just thinkin’ about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow.” Life can beat us down and make us want to give up. The Annie musical reminds us that “ya gotta hang on ’til tomorrow come what may”. The future can seem very mysterious and inaccessible. The Annie musical reminds us that : “Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow! You’re always a day a way!” Visionary people believe that there is hope for their future, that life is worth the struggle, that breakthroughs will come if we don’t give up.
The Annie Musical also reminds me that all of us feel alone at times; all of us can feel like orphans. Life can sometimes feel very overwhelming. The answer for Annie’s plea was adoption by Daddy Warbucks. The answer for our pleas in the 21st Century is the Spirit of adoption. All of us long for a father who will accept us and love us as we are. Jesus said: “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus reveals the heart of a true, loving Father, a Father who loves us beyond measure, a Father who longs to adopt us as his very own children. God has a special place in his heart for the fatherless, the abandoned, and the rejected. All of us at some level are little Orphan Annie. All of us are waiting to be loved.
Daddy Warbucks sang to Orphan Annie: “Something was missing but dreams can come true; that something was no one but you”. Just like Daddy Warbucks, theheavenly Father is longing to adopt you and give you a new silver locket, if you will just say ‘yes’. The Father loves you beyond your wildest dreams. The Father rejoices over you, and is saying, “It’s okay to come back home. The table is set. The Adoption Party is ready to begin!” God’s family, the Church, would love to throw a party in your honour this very Sunday! See you then.
The Reverend Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)
-previously published in the North Shore News
-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail email@example.com . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
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September 1, 2009
By Rev Ed Hird
I remember when I lost my voice for 18 months back in 1980. I will never forget resigning my job, going on sick leave, driving to the Employment Insurance office only to find out that my company did not have any long-term disability insurance.
In the midst of those devastating experiences, my strongest feeling was that I was disappointing my father. However my dad was not feeling that way at all. He was just concerned that I recover my voice and get back on track. Deep within most of us is this inexpressible desire to please our fathers.
In the early 1980’s, I spent almost five years in Abbotsford, during which time we had our second child. Each week I went to visit the sick in the local hospital. While visiting the psychiatric ward, I met a man who had Anglican and Roman Catholic parents. He said to me that he hadn’t seen a priest in thirty years. Out of the blue, he told me that he never prayed to God. ‘God was too angry’, he said. ‘You just couldn’t talk to him. He would always blow up.’ The man went on to say that he only prayed to the Virgin Mary. ‘She was kind, loving, gentle, and would always listen’, he said.
I said to the man, ‘Does God ever remind you of your earthly father?’. ‘Funny you should say that’, he said. ‘ They are just the same. They never listen and they always blow up at me.’ I went on to say, ‘What about your own mother? Does she remind you of the Virgin Mary?’ His eyes brightened up, and he said to me, ‘You must know my parents. My mother is just like the Virgin Mary. She always listens to me’.
I said to the man, ‘Your problem is not with God. It is with your earthly father. If you are willing to deal with the pain of your relationship to your dad, you will find that you will be able to talk to God.’ A week later, a local psychiatrist phoned me up and informed me that this patient had experienced a major breakthrough in his counseling as a result.
In A.A., they say that you are as healthy as your (lack of) secrets. I would agree, but also add that we are as healthy as our relationship with our fathers. So many men nowadays are caught in painful ambivalence and confusion, because they have never really felt affirmed and blessed by their own fathers.
The gift of a healthy father is the gift of courage. The gift of a healthy father is the gift of being willing to lay down our lives, if necessary, for our families. In this age of compromise, I give thanks for my own father who has not been afraid to stand up for his family and his convictions.
Without a father who believes in you, it may be very hard as a teenager to feel that you are going to make it through. They say that teenagers experience most things far more intensely than many adults. Their highs are twice as high and their lows are twice as low. That is why premature sexual intimacy and the usual relational breakups are so deeply devastating for our teenagers.
A courageous father does more than just give a condom to his kid. He explains to him the real risk of broken hearts and diseased bodies, as well of the benefits of waiting for real commitment. By our faithfulness to our wives, despite the ups and down of life, we give our children courage to believe that they too can enter faithful lasting relationships.
The concept of future marriage for many teenagers and young adults has become filled with so much fear and uncertainty. Yet as Dr. Laura put it, ‘Without commitment, there is no future.’ Courageous fathers give to their sons and daughters the courage to commit to the unknown future.
One of the things I love the most about the North Shore is the beautiful trails that are woven throughout our area. While out walking in the trails, I asked a neighbour, ‘What is a courageous father?’ He said, ‘Someone who holds down a job and cares for his children’. Simple words, but very true.