Nana Allen, my maternal grandmother, died with her prayer book and bible by her bed. I was never successful in talking her out of using the “old-fashioned” Book of Common Prayer, and ‘getting with the program’. Nana to me symbolizes the deep Judeo-Christian roots of our beloved Canadian nation. She knew in her heart that I would one day become an Anglican priest, even when I was running from God on the top of Mount Seymour ski hill. Nana, while outwardly a very gentle and proper ‘English’ lady, was inwardly a prayer warrior who never gave up on her family or her nation. Nana’s passionate love for our nation came out most strongly when she watched Hockey Night in Canada, fervently cheering for her favorite team ‘The Montreal Canadiens’.
I love Nana very deeply, though she passed away 18 years ago in March 1982, just before my throat operation where I received my voice back. It was hard for Nana to watch me lose my voice, as she was so deeply committed to my calling to the Anglican priesthood. I remember her saying that she wanted to live until I became ordained as a deacon. Then after my first ordination, she decided that she wanted to live until I became priested which she did as well. Within a year of my priesting, she had gone to be with the Lord.
Why am I an Anglican priest today? I believe in my heart of hearts that I am a priest because of my Nana’s powerful prayers and personal witness to a biblically faithful Anglicanism. Nana’s life embodied to me the heart and soul of genuine Anglican Christianity. Sadly most of the faithful congregations that my Nana attended have since been swallowed by other agendas.
Nana was also a devout Anglophile and royalist. Though she had never been to England, it very much functioned for her as ‘the mother country’. Nana was probably more English than the English. My parents finally persuaded her at age 80 to fly to England with them. While she enjoyed the trip tremendously, she felt that England had changed!
As someone who has been an ordained Anglican clergyman for 30 years, I must say similarly to my grandma’s comment that the Anglican Church has changed. I value healthy, necessary change, but I grieve when the core values of the Anglican Church are discarded in the relentless search for temporary relevance. I have sadly had to face that we are now often dealing with another gospel, another religion, another faith than the biblical Anglican Christianity that my dear Nana stood for.
I believe that the Anglican Church is the ‘canary in the tunnel’ for our great nation of Canada. Our Canadian passivity has made us vulnerable to serious cultural meltdown of everything that made Canada great. My grandparents’ and parents’ generation put everything on the line to defend our great nation in World War I and World War II. How can we do any less in the current battle for the soul of Canada?
We say in the pre-amble to our Constitution that we acknowledge the Supremacy of God. It is time for us as Canadians to turn our words into actions. Our founding forebearers were determined in the words of Psalm 72 that ‘he would have dominion for sea to shining sea’. Our original name “The Dominion of Canada” was chosen to deliberately reflect that spiritual commitment as the core of our nation.
My cry is that God would keep our land glorious and free, that God would have mercy upon our rebellious land, that mercy would triumph over judgement. God’s heart of love is that we would repent of our turning away from our godly Judeo-Christian heritage and turn back before it is too late.
When I remember my dearly beloved Nana, I am reminded that we have a great heritage as Canadians. Let’s not squander it.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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