Easter Season is a time of hope and it should be a source of joy. Knowing that Jesus is risen from the dead, we look to the time when we too will rise from our own death to be with Him forever in paradise. He is alive! Alleluia!
Today I want to juxtaposition the optimism of the little girl from the musical Annie when she sings the words, “The sun will come out tomorrow” to the somewhat foreboding last verse of the song Sun Rise/Sunset from the musical Fiddler On The Roof: That song closes with these words: “Laden with happiness and tears.” Annie is young and full of life and she has eternal optimism but Tevye’ and Golda are older and have experienced more of life’s pain which has tempered their optimism. Let’s take a look.
As we grow older and watch our precious little children mature into adulthood, we reflect back on how we once traveled that same path. Perhaps you can relate to the opening few verses from SUNRISE SUNSET.
Is this the little girl I carried,
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty,
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
I have two personal connections to this song. The first one was in 1976 when my wife chose this song to be played at our wedding. The second one came almost 20 years later when I was chosen for a part in Fiddler on The Roof at the Ocala Civic Theater.
The verse “I don’t remember growing older, when did they?” asks the question that at some point in life we all ask ourselves. The song tells us that our days flow swiftly and our years fly by, and of course…..they really do. It also reminds us that seedlings do turn overnight to sunflowers. We know that at the time of our birth the aging process begins. The inevitability of death always looms in the shadows. The song goes on by stating the reality that each season of life follows the previous one, some full of happiness and some full of tears. I am confident we have all had our share of happy days and sadly too many tears as well.
Allow me to reminisce about the role I played in Fiddler On The Roof. I danced the bottle dance at the wedding of Tzeitel and Motel. I look back with fond memories of doing a Russian kick step dance while I balanced a champagne bottle on my head for 22 main stage performances. (Thankfully I never dropped it!) Now twenty years later with multiple sclerosis, I marvel at how I was able to do that back then as I now some days struggle just to maintain my own balance let alone a bottle on my head. The days of me doing that kick step dance are long gone. I know each of you can look back on the past seasons of life with amazement at how quickly they have gone bye.
Nestled in the lyrics of Sunrise/Sunset is a profound question sung by Tevye. He sings: “What words of wisdom can I give them, how can I help to ease their way?” Tevye’s wife Golde sings her response to her husband’s question with these words:: “Now they must learn from one another, Day by day.”
Golde’s words are no doubt true, but they fall short of the real words of wisdom that we are called to impart. There are some very important words that we can, and in fact must, pass on to our children. The title to the song states the obvious. During our earthly life, the sunset does follow the sunrise. But as Christians, we know that following what appeared to be the sunset of Jesus’ life on Good Friday, the Son rose again on the third day.
As Christians we know that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, rose from the dead. To answer Tevye’s question, we must pass this truth onto our children. It is our God given responsibility as Christians to pass on the gift of our faith to our children and to others we meet on this journey we call life. They of course, have the choice to accept or reject this gift.
My friends, the years do fly by swiftly. Both of my parents and both of my wife’s parents are deceased. They passed on their words of wisdom. They passed on their faith in Jesus Christ, and in turn my wife and I have passed our faith onto our children.
Recently some dear friends of mine have passed away. During the eulogies at their funerals, their children spoke of the significance of their parent’s faith and of the love that their parent had for Jesus Christ and how it impacted the way that parent lived out their life.
So I pose Tevye’s question to each of us who have children: “What words of wisdom can we give them?” For those who don’t have children you are also called to give these same words of wisdom to others in your life. What are these words? Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, the Savior of the world, and He will come again on the last day. Teach them that after this life the Son will Rise again!
Annie’s optimism is well founded: The SON will come out tomorrow.
It is our faith in Jesus that wipes away the tears of death. So as we journey on, ever closer to the day of our own passing, we should always strive to draw closer to God and to live our lives in such a way that we demonstrate to others that we are indeed Disciples of Jesus Christ and worthy to be called a Christian.
Permit me to borrow and slightly alter the words of Deut 11:19-21: “Teach your belief in Jesus Christ to your children, speaking of Him when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up, and write His name on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates, so that, as long as the heavens are above the earth, you and your children may live on forever in the place which He has prepared you.” Amen!
Father God, thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, amen!