Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit

Leave a comment

Jimmy Stewart’s Wonderful Life

How many of you also love Jimmy Stewart’s iconic Christmas movie It’s a wonderful Life? What is your favorite scene? Click to view our Light Magazine article

Jimmy Stewart’s Wonderful Life

by Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird

One of our favourite Christmas movies is It’s a Wonderful Life where Jimmy Stewart plays the part of a generous but discouraged businessman who discovers that he really was making a positive impact. You will remember how the Christmas angel Clarence had to earn his wings by helping out Jimmy Stewart (aka George Bailey). George was so distraught at Christmas that he was about to jump off a bridge.  Clarence, the delightful angel shows George what an amazing impact his generosity is making, and how much poorer his town would be without him.

The movie was based on a short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1943. Stern wrote a Charles Dickens ‘Christmas Carol’ spinoff for the North American audience. In 1946, Frank Capra wrote the movie version.  It was initially seen as a box-office flop, falling three million dollars short of breaking even, and not even winning one Academy Award Oscar.  In 1947, the FBI and Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) secretly investigated It’s a Wonderful Life, fearing it was “communist propaganda”, stirring up class warfare, because it portrayed the villain as being a “scrooge-type” banker.

Since It’s a Wonderful Life was seen as a failure, the producers didn’t even bother to renew the copyright license in the late 1970s. This meant that television studios could show the movie for free at Christmas. After a few years   It’s a Wonderful Life became a cult classic.   It later went on to become the number one inspirational North American movie ever made.

Who can forget the conflict around the Christmas tree as George Bailey was close to committing suicide? We loved his honest prayer: “Dear Father in Heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God.” His unscripted tears were genuine. Stewart commented in a 1987 interview, “As I said those words, I felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and my eyes filled with tears. I broke down sobbing.” Actress Carol Burnett called this one of the finest pieces of acting ever seen. Because Jimmy Stewart was suffering from post-World War II PTSD, he was able to connect with George Bailey’s trauma with unusual depth.  On his twentieth combat mission flying over the city of Gotha, the floor of Stewart’s plane was hit, blowing a hole right below his feet.  It was one mission too many for Stewart.  He was grounded because of his paralyzing fear of making a mistake and causing someone to die. Friends observed that he had aged ten to twenty years. He began suffering from shakes, sweats, a short temper, mood swings, and nightmares.  He couldn’t keep food down, and had to live on just ice cream and peanut butter.

Christmas 1946 was surprisingly healing for both George Bailey and Jimmy Stewart himself. Who can fail to recall the final scene around the Christmas tree when all his friends come together and unite in support? Who can forget the joyful Christmas carols sung by Jimmy Stewart, friends and family as they thanked the baby Jesus for the true meaning of Christmas?

This Christmas, let not forget to unwrap the true gift of Christmas, the Christ Child come to earth to save us.

Leave a comment

Time to close down the nonperforming $35 Billion Canada Infrastructure Bank

We cannot afford this $35 billion dollar nonperformer.

OTTAWA, ON – Leslyn Lewis, Conservative Shadow Minister of Infrastructure and Communities released the following statement after it was discovered that a $1.7 billion dollar Canada Infrastructure Bank project has failed:

“Trudeau’s bank invested $655 million in a $1.7 billion-dollar project to build an underwater electricity cable that is now dead in the water due to financial volatility and inflation. The Lake Erie Connector Project is yet another failure for the Canada Infrastructure Bank – a $35 billion taxpayer-funded bank that has not completed one project in almost 6 years.

Leave a comment

Happy Advent

I’m happy to announce that we had Church@Church this Sunday Nov 27th at 10am. This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is the season of “anticipation.” It is the start of a new liturgical year, and we have much planned for our service: we’re blessing and lighting the Advent Wreath; we’re celebrating a baby dedication; and I’ll be preaching an Advent series on “Spiritual Friendship.” I’m looking forward to celebrating with you.
So come, join us as we worship the triune God together.
In case you missed it, you can find the Healing service (Rev Ed Hird preached on ‘Messy Healing: Why Does it sometimes take too long? Mark 8:22-26) from last week by clicking HERE.
Important Dates:
All Saints “Oikos 2023” Prayer Vigil starts tonight: an “Octave of Prayer” Sunday the 27th Nov. till Sunday the 4th Dec.: 7pm till 9pm in the church every night. Come for a few minutes or for the whole evening. Everyone welcome.
Ladies’ “Refresh” this Tuesday 10:30am.
Thursday Support Group this week: 6:00pm dinner together; Prayer Vigil at 7:00pm.
Remember we are a fragrance-free community.
Advent preaching series: “Spiritual Friendship.”
All Saints Christmas Party and Community Lunch: next Sunday the 4th of December (after the service). Bring some food and enjoy the fellowship. (Please note that until our renovations are complete, we do not have facilities for either heating or cooling food.) Everyone welcome.
“9 Lessons and Carols” Sunday the 18th of Dec. Hot mince pies and hot apple juice after the service. Everyone welcome.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Family Service 7:00pm Christmas Eve. Everyone welcome
Christmas Day Family Service 10:00am Christmas Day
If you want to see our monthly church schedule, you can find that on our website.
If you have any further questions, or need help in any way, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you Church.
Stay vigilant and prayerful.
Love each other deeply and keep Jesus at the very centre of everything you do.
Blessings on all you do.
The peace of our Lord,
Peter Klenner
Bishop and Pastor
All Saints Community Church
Crescent Beach

Rev. Ed Hird preaching on Mark 8:22-26

Leave a comment

Dostoevsky’s Notes From the Underground

Insights on choice from Dostoevsky: “…man everywhere and at all times, whoever he may be, has preferred to act as he chose and not in the least as his reason and advantage dictated. And one may choose what is contrary to one’s own interests, and sometimes one positively ought (that is my idea). One’s own free unfettered choice, one’s own caprice, however wild it may be, one’s own fancy worked up at times to frenzy— is that very “most advantageous advantage” which we have overlooked, which comes under no classification and against which all systems and theories are continually being shattered to atoms. And how do these wiseacres know that man wants a normal, a virtuous choice? What has made them conceive that man must want a rationally advantageous choice? What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead. (Ed: humans are often strongly pro-choice, regardless of how deadly the consequences to themselves and the most vulnerable)

Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Notes from the Underground (Kindle Locations 416-422). Kindle Edition. https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/600


Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead

Reading this quote from Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead novel reminded me of Stalin, Hitler, Mao and their totalitarian regimes that brought the enslavement and destruction of so many tens of millions. “Tyranny is a habit capable of being developed, and at last becomes a disease. I declare that the best man in the world can become hardened and brutified to such a point, that nothing will distinguish him from a wild beast. Blood and power intoxicate; they aid the development of callousness and debauchery; the mind then becomes capable of the most abnormal cruelty in the form of pleasure; the man and the citizen disappear forever in the tyrant; and then a return to human dignity, repentance, moral resurrection, becomes almost impossible. That the possibility of such license has a contagious effect on the whole of society there is no doubt. A society which looks upon such things with an indifferent eye, is already infected to the marrow.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The House of the Dead; or, Prison Life in Siberia / with an introduction by Julius Bramont (Kindle Locations 3557-3562). Kindle Edition.

Leave a comment

Messy Healing: Why does it often take too long? Mark 8: 22-26

Christ the King Healing service at All Saints Church Crescent Beach with Rev Dr. Ed Hird:

Do you have any blind spots? I do. Are there any areas where you are not self-aware? We can easily come to church with blind spots that we are not aware of. Blind spots can bring a business-as-usual attitude. Did you come with great expectations today for our healing service? Our expectations often shape what we receive. Pregnant mothers are often called expectant mothers. Why is that? People often say “don’t get your hopes up. You might be disappointed”. I want to challenge you today to get your hopes up. Hope is about expectation. Expectation in Latin is exspectare ‘look out for’, from ex- ‘out’.

Do you have expectant eyes today?

Alyosha the protagonist in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, had ‘expectant eyes’. This initially annoyed his older worldly brother Ivan, but then he grew fond of Alyosha’s expectant eyes.

What expectations did you bring this morning? (Pause for the congregation who shared their expectations.)

Let me ask you a trick question. Is the Anglican Church Catholic or Protestant? The answer is yes. We are reformed catholics. All Saints Church as part of the Anglican Mission is a three-stream church, catholic, evangelical and charismatic. This means that we focus in Christ on sacrament, word, and Spirit. You may have heard that the word without the Spirit, you dry up. The Spirit without the Word you blow up. The Word, Spirit and Sacrament together, you grow up.

How many of you have a Bible that you read? How many of you have an Anglican Prayer Book? (Probably a lot less.) The good news is that today it is all online. I was raised in soft Anglocatholicism where very few of us had bibles at home. While being confirmed, I was taught about the Prayer Book catechism, but nothing about the Bible. Fortunately the Prayer book is 80% portions of the Bible. No one told me when I was young that the Anglican book of Common Prayer on p. 587 has a very powerful 11-page healing service with laying on of hands, healing prayers, reading of healing scriptures like James 5:14-16, confession and absolution, anointing with oil, and holy communion. It is the full deal approach to serious healing, yet sadly forgotten by most Anglican churches. Here is a sample prayer from the Anglican healing service: “Our Lord and Heavenly Father, who relieves those who suffer in soul and body: stretch forth thine hand, we beseech thee, to heal thy servant and to ease his pain; that by thy mercy he may be restored to health of body and mind, and show forth his thankfulness in love to thee and service to his fellow men and women; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” One of the Anglican healing prayers specifically spoke about “preserving thee in all goodness”? How many of you in today’s healing service want to be preserved in all goodness? The Holy Spirit is God’s great healing preservative. Preservative, like the word conservative, both mean to keep safe from harm. That is what today’s healing service is all about. God today wants to conserve you and preserve you in body, mind and spirit. Healing is not just physical but involves the whole person.

How many of you know the medieval term for anointing with oil? Unction which is Latin for anointing. Sadly many people lost sight of its healing potential and just relegated it to be used as last rites in what became known as The sacrament of extreme unction. I have been amazed the number of times when I anoint people during last rites that they get better, instead of dying.

Unctuosus in Latin literally meant ‘greasy or oily’. Today at our three prayer stations, you can ask to be anointed with oil for healing.

I will never forget the healing mission that I went to with a blind Anglican healing evangelist who joking called himself Mr Magoo. Many were healed that weekend as he spoke movingly about the healing power of the Eucharist, of receiving Holy Communion. While I valued the Lord’s supper, I had never before fully appreciated it’s connection to the healing ministry. Yet the Anglican catechism that I had studied said clearly that the benefits of receiving communion are “the strengthening and refreshing of our souls and bodies unto eternal life by the Body and Blood of Christ.” How many of you want strengthening and refreshing today both physically and spiritually?

In the first Anglican Prayer book written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549, people were given communion while saying these words “The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for you, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.” Many grumbled that this was too Catholic, so in the next Book of Common Prayer written by Archbishop Cranmer in 1552, it was dropped and replaced with the words “Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.” Sadly King Edward the sixth died, Bloody Mary kicked out the prayer book, and burnt 300 people at the stake including Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. He was so badly psychologically tortured that he signed a document renouncing the very prayer book that he had written. As he was being burnt alive, he took his right hand and stuck it in the flames, saying “with my right hand, I renounce my renunciation.” He died a martyr for the faith.

After Bloody Mary died from influenza in 1558, her half sister Queen Elizabeth took over, restoring the prayer book. This time, she used both phrases at communion, preserving both the Catholic objective side of communion and the Protestant subjective side of communion. Yes, it is the body of Christ spiritually. Yes, Jesus is really present in the Eucharist spiritually, but it must be received in your hearts by faith. Without a lively faith, as the 39 articles puts it, you are merely chewing on bread, as Saint Augustine put it ‘carnally and visibly press with their teeth’.

When you receive communion by faith, it is medicine to our body and soul.

In the old days, you could not receive communion in an Anglican Church without being confirmed. I got confirmed to make my mother happy. After being confirmed, I had great expectations for my first communion, but never realized that it was medicine. I was greatly disappointed. There was nothing wrong with the body and blood. But I didn’t receive it in my heart with thanksgiving. I believed in Jesus in my head, but had never received Jesus in my heart by faith with thanksgiving. After I received Jesus in 1972 during the Jesus movement, I went back to my local Anglican Church, and noticed that communion had improved. I added subjective faith to the objective sacrament. Seven years later, I received the gift of tongues, and remarkably communion improved again. I have noticed since that every time I forgive others, every time I apologize to my wife, every time I choose to be generous, every time I surrender my will, communion improves. The problem is not with the sacrament. The problem is my hard heart. How’s your heart today? Does it need to soften at all? Would you like communion to improve for you today?

In Vs 22 & 23, we are told that “They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village”

Jesus will sometimes use privacy to protect us from other’s manipulation and negativity.

Vs 23b tells us that Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him.

Spitting is very incarnational. In other places, he used mud with spit. Jesus like matter. It is not a coincidence that he called communion his flesh and blood. The sacraments are the material and spiritual integrated in a holy mystery, as the Eastern Orthodox call the sacraments. You may have noticed that Bishop Peter likes to be sensitive to people’s preferences, like grape juice or wine, gluten or gluten free wafers. Today he has decided that we will offer three healing stations: one with spit, one with mud, one with anointing oil. 😉

In Vs 23c, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

Jesus asked many amazing diagnostic questions in his healing ministry, such as “Do you want to be well?” We might want to do that as well when we pray for healing for others. His three-fold ministry which Jesus passed on to us is preaching, teaching, and healing the sick. The good news is that he is still present to heal today. (The power of God was present to heal the sick. Luke 5:16-26) He is still both willing and able to bring wholeness to us. ( “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” Matthew 8:2-3) Healing is God’s will; sometimes a fuller healing is delayed. We sometimes grumble about that. You may have noticed that all of us die, entering in God’s full healing.

In vs 24, we are told that the blind man looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

This partial healing of sight is often true in our lives, not only physically but also spiritually.

E Stanley Jones from the first Christian Ashram retreat in 1930 held a healing service and a communion service. Communion as I have said is healing. Jones who recorded hundreds of healings in his 28 books, believed oblique or indirect healing. More physical healings take place when spiritual and emotional healing comes first. I ask some of you today: who do you need to forgive? Who are you no longer talking to in your family? Could bitterness be holding back a physical breakthrough?

After losing my voice in 1980, I became passionate about the healing ministry, becoming an Order of St Luke the Physician Chaplain. On May 25th 1982, I had throat surgery at Vancouver General Hospital which restored my voice, though initially leaving it breathy, very quiet and raspy. Don’t give up when you only see people like trees. Thank God for that partial healing. Sometimes you need to soak for a while in God’s healing presence as more breakthrough comes.

Vs 25 tells us that “Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”

Would you ‘see’ more clearly in your life? Do you ever treat people as trees, as less than human? All genocides and war crimes come from our seeing people as trees. In Rwanda, Tutus were called cockroaches as they were being slaughtered.

In vs 26, we are told that “Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

Sometimes to keep your healing, you have to be careful who you share your healing with.

It is very easy to be impatient as we seek healing for ourselves and others. One of my biggest temptation is impatience. I seldom have car accidents. The few I have had have been connected to my impatience.

Nicky Gumbel recently tweeted: “Abraham waited for 25 years. Joseph waited 25 years. Moses waited 25 years. Jesus waited 25 years. If God makes you wait, you are in good company.”

Have you ever thanked God for unanswered prayers, how God protects us from our naivety and foolishness?

Our impatience can tempt us to try to twist God’s arm. Healing is not about getting our own way in our own timing. Healing is about the surrender of our will, about aligning our will with God’s healing will.

Let us pray that God will strengthen our patience as we minister healing to others in Jesus’ name. Never give up.

Leave a comment

Battle for the Tortured Soul of Russia

Enjoy this Light Magazine article and feel free to repost. Praying for the soul of Russia.

Leo Tolstoy’s battle for the tortured soul of Russia

By Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird

After publishing his wildly successful War and Peace in 1865, Tolstoy thought of writing a novel on Peter the Great. So, he began learning ancient Greek.

Tolstoy called the time of terrible uncertainty between writing projects “the dead time.”  His self-doubt perhaps meant that he would never write anything again. He was plagued by fears that he himself was finished as a writer. “It was all over for him; it was time for him to die.”

Two years after finishing War and Peace, he still felt so depressed that he privately told a friend that he had no will to live, and had never felt so miserable in all his life. It would be three years before Tolstoy started Anna Karenina, a novel in which both key characters Anna Karenina and Konstantin Levin struggled with great self-doubt about their relationships and even life itself. It seems that many of Tolstoy’s more painful emotions were projected onto Anna Karenina.

Perhaps more than any other, Anna Karenina is Tolstoy’s novel that readers consistently say they cannot stop reading. If you are still mystified to why Russia recently invaded Ukraine, read Anna Karenina.  The intense humanity of Tolstoy’s complex characters allows us to read it again and again with new insights about the Russian soul. Many consider Anna Karenina to be the best novel ever written. Over 300,000,000 people have purchased it so far. You could be next. Tolstoy saw it as his first novel, as he refused to call his earlier War & Peace a novel. 

Why did Tolstoy write such an intense novel about adultery?  Biblically speaking, adultery is often a metaphor for spiritual idolatry.  As Romans 1 puts it, we are tempted to abandon ourselves to the twin temptations of adultery and idolatry. 

How was Tolstoy able to write so vividly and realistic about adultery and idolatry?  Because like the Apostle Paul, he considered himself to be the chief of sinners. In his 1882 book Confessional, he commented:

I cannot recall those years without horror, loathing, and heart-rending pain. I killed people in war, challenged men to duels with the purpose of killing them, and lost at cards; I squandered the fruits of the peasants’ toil and then had them executed; I was a fornicator and a cheat. Lying, stealing, promiscuity of every kind, drunkenness, violence, murder – there was not a crime I did not commit… Thus, I lived for ten years.” 

His mother died when Tolstoy was two year’s old.  Raised as an aristocratic orphan, he came into massive wealth and landholdings at age 19. His wild gambling debts in the military forced him to sell off villages that he owned, before he finally lost his principal house itself.  Similarly, Levin, the hero of the Anna Karenina novel, struggled with gambling temptations before getting married and settling down. Many of the Russian aristocracy in the 1800s were renowned for massive gambling debts in the military, while simultaneously despising money itself.  Is the reckless Russian invasion of the Ukraine an expression of this same gambling addiction? 

Like many in the Russian aristocracy, Tolstoy was trained to see hunting and warfare as vital to masculine courage and bravery.  Many of Tolstoy’s books, including Anna Karenina, give a seldom-seen, up-close view of the battlefield.  He was the first newspaper war correspondent. Tolstoy no more glorified warfare than John Newton glorified slavery.  Both Tolstoy and Newton, however, because of their first-hand experience, were able to give a first-hand critique of what was really happening in their time. Both helped turn many others to peace and reconciliation. 

Tolstoy defined his essential family trait by the Russian word dikost which means wildness, shyness, originality and independence in thinking, much like the quintessential Russian bear.  Not even the autocratic Tzar himself could tame Tolstoy.  In his novels, Tolstoy could get away with saying things that would immediately exile other Russians to Siberia.  He was so uncontrollable, almost like John the Baptist, so that even the top officials feared to criticize him publicly. 

One of Tolstoy’s more scandalous behaviours was that he wrote his novels in the Russian language, rather than using  any of the twelve other languages he knew.  The accepted language of communication for the Russian aristocracy was French, which their serfs could not understand.  Because the Russian literary language had been created specifically to translate the bible, the Russian Orthodox Church saw it as blasphemous to degrade the holy Russian language in the writing of ‘heathen’ folktales or novels.  The Anna Karenina novel scandalized many religious officials by its thoughtful critique of religious hypocrisy and judgementalism, and its rejection of violence.  He became a pacifist after fighting in the Crimea. 

Tolstoy chose Romans 12: 19 “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay” as an epigraph to Anna Karenina. Many people in life, even as Christians, are tempted to take revenge when they have been hurt.  Just think of all the trauma that the Ukrainian people have been through recently.  How could they ever forgive the Russians? Tolstoy, in Anna Karenina, shows us again and again how tempting revenge is, yet how unsatisfying it is to the soul.  Kitty had to give up her desire for revenge regarding Anna & Vronsky before she could be well again and marry Levin.  Similarly, Levin had to forgive Kitty for initially rejecting his marriage proposal, before he could give her a second chance.  It is only when we trust that God alone will bring justice and fairness that we lose the need to even the score. Could God make a way where there is no way in the current mess between Russia and Ukraine?

Reading Anna Karenina reminds us of Isaiah 5:20 where it warns against calling evil good and good evil, putting darkness for light and light for darkness, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Though Anna is initially used to save Dolly and Stepan Oblonsky’s marriage from his affair, everything following become a twisted web of deceit and half-truths. Again, it reminds us of Jeremiah 17:9 “our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked; who can understand them?”  Self-deception, which so many fell into, is the worst form of deception.  Often our eyes and ears are closed shut, and we refuse to hear and see. We often deceive ourselves that we know better than God himself and His Word. 

Anna was described as being clad in an impenetrable armour of falsehood.  Deception ultimately kills relationships, as it did with Anna and Count Vronsky.  Romans 3:23 has never stopped being true; the wages of sin and self-deception are still death.  Tolstoy symbolizes this at both the beginning and ending of the novel, where the railway station is the place not only of progress, but also of death.  Progress, for its own sake, only turns us into unfeeling machines.

By contrast, the joy of Levin and Kitty’s marriage was that it became a relationship without guile or deceit. They held back no secrets on each other. They were who they were, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health.  As a result, they went from being tortured souls to becoming healthy souls.  What might it take for tortured Russia to rediscover the deeply Christ-like, profoundly human souls of Levin and Kitty?  Lord, have mercy on Russia and their neighbours, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 Comment

Remembering Peter Biggs

Fondly remembering our long-term friend Peter Biggs who we became friends with on the North Shore when he pastored Cedarview Church. We just attended his meaningful funeral in Abbotsford. Peter was the key note speaker at one of our 25 Renewal Missions. He was also a key part of the North Shore Pastors Prayer Fellowship.

Peter Biggs Obituary - Abbotsford, BC


Peter Biggs Obituary – Abbotsford, BC

Leave a comment

Dostoevsky and Faith

Alex Christofi, Dostoevsky in Love (Bloomsbury Continuum, London, UK, 2021), p. 53

With only a New Testament for company (in prison), Fyodor Dostoevsky had spent the past four years thinking deeply about God and religion. “At such a time one thirsts for faith as withered grass thirsts for water. I am a child of this century, a child of doubt and disbelief, I always have been always will be (I know that), until they close the lid of my coffin. But despite all that, there is nothing more beautiful, more profound, more sympathetic, more reasonable, more courageous, more perfect than Christ. Moreover, if someone succeeded in proving to me that Christ wasn’t real, I would rather stay with Christ than with the truth. (Fydor Dostoevsky, Letter to Natalia Fonvizina, 20 February 1854).