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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Christmas is Inescapable….

 By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the most entertaining book/movies about Christmas commercialization is ‘Skipping Christmas/Christmas with the Cranks’ by John Grisham.  As Christmas commercialization will likely always be with us, it is good to have a sense of humour about the silliness that can overtake us.  My favorite scene is Luther Crank trying unsuccessfully to drink his tea after an over-the-top Botox session.

For many years, John Grisham has been one of my favorite living authors.  Born on February 8, 1955, Grisham is a retired attorney, an ex-politician, and a novelist best known for his works of modern legal  drama.  Publishers Weekly described Grisham as “the bestselling novelist of the 90s,” selling 60,742,289 copies. Grisham is one of few authors, including Tom Clancy, who have sold two million copies on a first printing. His novel The Pelican Brief sold over eleven million copies just in North America.  There is no other person who has authored a number one best-selling novel of the year for seven consecutive years (1994-2,000).

Many people do not realize that Grisham is a committed Christian who has spent time in mission service in Brazil. “I started going out in 1993 with a church group from my home church in Oxford, Miss.,” he told USA Today. “We went down there for the purpose of constructing a church in this little town sort of in the outback and it was such a rewarding experience that I’ve done it several times since.”

With over 110 million books sold, John Grisham and his wife, Renee, “measure the success of the year on how much we give away,” Grisham told USA Today. They have set up a foundation to oversee their giving — “the bulk of it goes to church and related activities” — to which “the kids have said, ‘Look, don’t give it all away.'”

Grisham now wishes “I’d joined the Peace Corps … for a couple years out of college.” He added, “As my years go by I think I’ll spend more and more time doing … mission work, probably in Brazil.”

Fittingly, Grisham in his book ‘The Testament’ makes a heroine of an illegitimate daughter Rachel Lane, an unknown missionary in the deepest jungles of Brazil.  Troy Phelan, the 10th-richest man in America, outrages all his greedy family by giving Rachel his $11 billion fortune. Ironically, Rachel leads a simple life and couldn’t care less about money. The interaction between Nate O’Riley the recovering alcoholic lawyer and Rachel Lane reveals the depth of Grisham’s spiritual convictions. “Nate closed his eyes … and called God’s name. God was waiting. … In one glorious acknowledgment of failure, he laid himself bare before God. He held nothing back. He unloaded enough baggage to crush any three men. … ‘I’m sorry,’ he whispered to God. ‘Please help me.’ As quickly as the fever had left his body, he felt the baggage leave his soul. With one gentle brush of the hand, his slate had been wiped clean.”

Grisham explained to USA Today, “Nate tried power and women and booze and drugs and the fast life and all the good things that money can buy. He’s crashed and burned four times in 10 years and it’s obvious he can’t save himself. I wanted to take a guy like that and sort of follow him on a kind of spiritual journey, his quest for a spiritual cure. … I was challenged by the goal of seeing if I could make such a spiritual journey work in a popular novel, in commercial fiction.”

This Christmas, I encourage each of us to make a spiritual journey that goes far beyond Christmas Commercialization.  May this Christmas be an encounter with the humble manger.

 

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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What Child is This at Christmas?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

One of the most favorite Christmas Carols is William Chatterton Dix’s “What Child is This?” At the age of twenty-nine, Dix was struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bedrest for several months.  He went into a deep depression. Out of this near-death experience, Dix wrote many hymns, including ‘What Child is This?”.  Written in 1865, Dix made use of powerful word pictures that still speak one hundred and forty-one years later:

What Child is this who, laid to rest

On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,

While shepherds watch are keeping?

What is it about the Christmas story that keeps capturing our hearts year after year?  What child is this?

Why does this baby on Mother Mary’s lap win the attention of billions of people every December?  Why  angels?  Why shepherds?  What child is this?

One of the strangest things about the Christmas story is the birthplace of the Christmas child in a cattle shed.  What kind of place is that to celebrate Christmas?  It wasn’t even sanitary.

 

Why lies He in such mean estate,

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christians, fear, for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading.

 There is something about the Christmas Child that will not go away, that cannot be avoided, that is inescapably part of Canadian culture.

What Child is this anyways?  William Chatterton Dix’s Carol had this response:

This, this is Christ the King,

Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;

Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

What Child is this? Why do wise men still seek him?

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,

Come peasant, king to own Him;

The King of kings salvation brings,

Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

This Christmas, may loving hearts enthrone the Christmas Child.  May loving hearts welcome this Child into  their homes, their lives, their souls.

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.


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Always Winter and Never Christmas

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

This Christmas season, you will not want to miss the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ movie ‘Voyage of the Dawntreader.  Since C. S. Lewis wrote it in 1950, tens of millions of copies of the book in over thirty languages have been sold.

At the heart of Narnia’s first book ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ is the abolition of Christmas by the White Witch where it is always winter and never Christmas.  C.S. Lewis’ alternate title for his book was ‘The Hundred Year Winter’.  Not once in the past hundred years of Narnia was Christmas ever celebrated.

 The White Witch, whose real name is Jadis, punished anyone who wanted the restoration of Christmas, by turning them into stone.  The White Witch’s most memorable feature was her skin, as white as chalk, or paper, or snow. CS Lewis explains in the Narnia book ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ that the White Witch’s skin was made that way by eating an apple from the Emperor’s Garden at the beginning of Narnia.

 In the midst of this bone-chilling winter, we are told about an ancient prophecy stating that when two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve filled the four thrones as Kings and Queens of Narnia, the tyranny of the White Witch and her hundred-year winter would end.  We are also told that one day the great Lion Aslan will triumphantly return to Narnia: “Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”   CS Lewis called Aslan a ‘supposal’ of what might have happened if Christ had come to a world of talking animals and become one of them.

 With the remarkable success of the  ‘Passion of the Christ’ Movie and Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy,  many have become more open to spiritually-oriented movies like Voyage of the Dawntreader.  Many ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Narnia’ buffs may not be aware that it was JRR Tolkien who helped lead his atheist friend CS Lewis to faith in the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

While teaching at Oxford College, Lewis formed a lasting friendship with JRR Tolkien. Lewis said to Tolkien that tales or myths are ‘lies and therefore worthless, even  though breathed through silver’.  ‘No’, said Tolkien, ‘they are not  lies’. Tolkien went on to explain to Lewis that in Jesus Christ, the ancient stories or myths of a dying and rising God entered history and  became fact.

Twelve days later, Lewis wrote to another friend Arthur  Greeves: “I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely  believing in Christ – in Christianity. I will try to explain this  another time. My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal  to do with it”. CS Lewis recalls going by motorcycle with his brother  Warren to Whipsnade Zoo, about thirty miles east of Oxford. “When we set  out, I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we  reached the zoo, I did”. In his autobiography Surprised by Joy, Lewis  commented: “In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God  was God…perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England”.

This Christmas season, as you take your family and friends to see the Voyage of the Dawntreader, I invite you to discover with CS Lewis that Aslan is the Reason for the Season.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Doing Christmas on Purpose

By The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

I love Christmas Carols. Even when I feel dead to everything else about Christmas, Christmas Carols seem to wake me up from within.  Music has an amazing way to slip past even the most hardened heart.

Christmas is one of those traditions that won’t go away, and yet so often seems off kilter.  It so often seems to lack purpose and focus.  The John Grisham movie “Christmas with the Kranks” symbolizes the angst of people swallowed by Christmas-related paraphernalia.  Christmas Carols are ideal for helping us regain focus at Christmas.

Randy Stonehill poignantly sang: “I wonder if this Christmas they’ll begin to understand that the Jesus that they celebrate is much more than a man…”  The first purpose of Christmas is to bring pleasure to God, otherwise called Worship.  That is why at Christmas so many of us love to sing: “O Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord”.  For many years, Christmas to me was just about eating turkey and getting presents.  Being dragged to church on Christmas Eve or even worse Christmas morning seemed like a serious intrusion into an otherwise good festival.  As I have refocused on the real meaning of Christmas,  I hear afresh the Christmas Carol singing: “O Come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, o come ye to Bethehem”.

Year after year, Christmas miraculously brings friends and families back together.  When I was younger, I enjoyed spending Christmas with my grandparents and family, but didn’t fully realize what a wonderful gift this was.  The second purpose of Christmas, I have discovered, is fellowship.  At the heart of lasting fellowship is great food, lots of fun, and deep listening.  God put us here on earth to learn how to love each other.  Christmas is a great time to do that.  Christmas is a time when like shepherds summoned to his cradle, we leave our flocks and then flock together.

I never realized when I was young that Christmas was meant to transform me.  Years later I discovered that all that joy at Christmas had a third purpose: to make me more like Christ, which is Discipleship.  As that great Christmas Carol puts it, “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice! Now you need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!”  There is a joy released at Christmas that can radically transform anyone’s life if we will let it.  That is why the Good Book says that the Joy of the Lord is our strength.

Christmas for me as a young person was about getting bigger and better presents.  Years later I have discovered that Christmas is really about giving.  Giving is not just about presents, but mostly about our hearts.  The fourth purpose of Christmas is about serving others, especially the poor.  Good old Scrooge learnt this lesson the hard way at Christmas.  As Good King Wenceslas put it, “Therefore Christian men be sure, wealth and rank possessing, ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”  We may not like the three wise men have gold, frankincense, and myrrh to give, but when we give from our heart, Christmas becomes real to another hurting person.

When I was younger, I thought that Christmas was about me.  In fact, I have discovered that Christmas is about others.  That is why the fifth purpose of Christmas is “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born”.  Christmas is too good to keep it to ourselves.  Christmas is the kind of fun and laughter and joy that everyone needs more of.  Do you know anyone who needs cheering up?  Do you know anyone who has lost direction?  If you do, I encourage you to reach out and bring others this Christmas to a joyful Christmas Eve service near you.

 

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Away in a Manger

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

Childhood memories inescapably come to my mind each Christmas.  One of my favorite Christmas Carols as a child was ‘Away in a Manger’.  This delightful lullaby still soothes my soul in unexpected ways.  The term ‘lullaby’ comes from the Swedish term ‘lulla’, meaning ‘an intermission or lull in the storm’.  With three lively sons in our family, my wife and I have always been grateful for any lull in the storm.  My parents have often reminded me of what a lovely son I was when I was sleeping!

The inescapable season of Christmas is intended to be a lullaby, a lull in the storm of life.  So often we wear ourselves out trying to do Christmas right.  Without intending to, we spend too much, eat too much, and drink too much.  I am more and more convinced that the real key to a joyful Christmas is less, not more; slower, not faster.  The heart of Christmas is simplicity.  The heart of Christmas is a manger.

When you think about the first Christmas, there was ‘no crib for a bed’.  The cattle were LOWING, which is an ancient term for mooing and making a racket!  No wonder ‘the Baby awakes’.  I wonder how many mothers reading this article have had to give birth in a barn?  I wonder how many modern-day Moms ever used a feeding trough as a baby crib?  Yet that is what ‘Away in A Manger/Feeding Trough’ meant on the very first Christmas day.

No one actually knows who wrote the words to this delightful carol.  I wonder if it was written by a stressed-out parent with several children under the age of three.  Personal experience has taught me that sleep is a rare commodity for parents with babies.  You just have to snatch a couple of hours in-between feeding, cleaning and crying times.  In my early twenties, I said that I would never have children until scientists had solved the problem of children crying!  After being stuck in an hour-long traffic jam with my wailing baby nephew Boyd, I started to fantasize about creating a mechanism that would switch Boyd’s screaming into a flashing light on his forehead.  My hunch is that the author of ‘Away in a Manger’ may have had the same desires when he wrote ‘But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes’.

The amazing thing about raising three boys is that after a while the crying and wailing doesn’t traumatize you in the same way.  I am not sure if that is because you suffer from hearing loss along the way.  Either way I am convinced that baby Jesus, being fully human as well as fully God, wailed and cried with the best of them.  And mother Mary and Joseph probably suffered from sleep deprivation, but loved the little Lord Jesus regardless.

There is something so amazing about being parents looking at one’s sleeping baby.  As our babies lay down their sweet heads, as the stars in the bright sky look down where they lay, something stirs within the most hardened workaholic heart.  Babies are worth the sacrifice.  Babies are worth the investment.  No wonder God became a baby at Christmas.  God stole our hearts by turning up ‘away in a manger’.  Who cannot love God as a helpless baby?

As a young child I sincerely sang in Sunday School: ‘I love you Lord Jesus, look down from the sky and stay by my bedside till morning is nigh’.  I meant it when I sang: ‘Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.’  But as I became older, my heart hardened.  I became cynical and jaded towards Christmas and Church.  Jesus to me became little more than a swear word.  The miracle is that Jesus cracked through my cold distracted heart and showed me real love.  My prayer for those reading this article is that the Reason for this Season, Jesus, may ‘fit us for heaven, to live with thee there’.

 

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.


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Joy to the World!

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat”  Who can think of Christmas without the joy of Christmas carols?  Everyone wants joy at Christmas.  Everyone wants to be loved, to be cared for, to be remembered.  There is no lonelier time of the year than Christmas spent alone.  Sometimes we try too hard to be joyful at Christmas.  I usually find that the harder I try to be happy, the more self-obsessed and miserable I become.

‘Joy to the World!’  Why is Christmas often the high holiday for alcoholics and the chemically dependent?  Perhaps because people feel this ‘moral burden’ at Christmas to be joyful at all cost.  Joy for many is like the elusive butterfly that is just out of reach.  They can almost grab it and suddenly it is gone again.  All the Christmas presents, all the eggnog, all the tinsel, and all the Christmas lights just don’t seem to be able to produce that strange phenomenon of joy.

‘Joy to the World!’  Joy is like being tickled.  In the same way that you can’t tickle yourself, you can’t ‘pull up your bootstraps’ and conjure up joy.  Joy can’t be forced, manipulated, controlled, psyched up, or packaged.  Joy is a gift, a free gift, an overwhelming gift from the most generous giver in the Universe.  Joy is the true heart of Christmas because Christmas is both about the joy of giving and the giving of joy.

‘Joy to the World!’  Have you ever noticed how you can’t fake laughter?  Laughter too is a gift, a gift of joy, a gift of freedom.  Can you imagine how sad a Christmas Dinner would be without laughter?  Many of us have such a stern view of Jesus that we can’t imagine him laughing or joyful.  Yet Jesus was at his best when he hung out at parties with some of the most unexpected people.  We forget that Jesus, being Jewish, made use of Jewish humour and hyperbole to shock people into thinking.  Can you imagine how racy Jesus’ story was about the prodigal Jewish son who ended up working for a pig farmer?  And yet he used that now famous story in Luke Chapter 15 to remind us that no matter how messed up we become, we can always come home to the Father’s arms.  That’s the true joy of Christmas.

‘Joy to the World!’  Joy and sorrow are neurologically linked in a way that few of us expect.  How true it is that ‘those who sow with tears shall reap with songs of joy’.  Unless we grieve the losses of life, true joy never comes.  Alcohol and drugs merely postpone our doing the hard grief-work that awaits each of us.  Is it a coincidence that the symbol of drama is the twin masks of Greek comedy and tragedy?  How true it is that ‘weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning’.  The price of really enjoying this Christmas may be paying the price of grieving the loss of our parents in death, our ex-spouse in divorce, or our children in heartbreak.

‘Joy to the World!’  Shakespeare in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ said: ‘frame your mind to mirth and merriment, which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life’.  The ancient Proverbs said ‘A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones’.  More and more scientists are discovering that joy and laughter are scientifically good for you.  Joy and laughter strengthen our immunity systems, reduce our stress levels, and alleviate chronic pain.

‘Joy to the World!’  Isaac Watts back in 1719 wrote the unforgettable Christmas Carol ‘Joy to the World! The Lord is come: Let earth receive our King’.  This Christmas, let joy fill our hearts, let the King fill our lives, let the baby Jesus fill our homes.  This Christmas ‘let every heart prepare him room’.  Joy to you and your families this Christmas!

 

 

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

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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In the Midst of Christmas….

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

In the midst of multi-coloured Christmas lights on every neighbourhood street, he loves you.  In the midst of Jim Carey’s ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’, he loves you.  In the midst of red-nosed Rudolph and the Christmas elves, he loves you.  In the midst of desperate Ski Hill ‘Prayers for Snow’, he loves you.

In the midst of turkey dinners on a family night, he cares for you.  In the midst of stocked stockings hanging by a roaring fire, he cares for you.  In the midst of frost on a snowy window, he cares for  you.  In the midst of carolers singing at your doorstep, he cares for you.

In the midst of Scout Christmas tree sales, he watches over you.  In the midst of Christmas pageants and winter fests, he watches over you.  In the midst of shopping centre santas and boxing day sales, he watches over you.  In the midst of early-morning presents and sleepless children, he watches over you.

It is so easy to be cynical as Christmas rolls around.  Most of us long to get back to the real meaning of Christmas.  Most of us are tired of the endless commercialization that seems to swallow us every December.  I wonder if Jesus realized how much work and expense would spring from his being born over 2,000 years ago!  My hunch is that he never intended that his annual birthday party on December 25th should become so complicated and wearisome.  The first Christmas ‘away in a manger, no crib for a bed’ was a very simple affair indeed.  Just baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and a few animals for company.

It is impossible to think about Christmas without pictures of angels and shepherds.  Many of us fondly remember dressing up as children in such getups.  Our parents would get out their cameras and make a fuss over us in front of our relatives and neighbours.

Christmas morning was always very exciting.  Waiting for Christmas morning to finally appear seemed to take an eternity.  I remember ripping open the carefully wrapped presents with joyful abandonment.  I remember feasting on the delicious turkey dinners and hot apple pies.  I remember my grandparents gathering around the dining room table, telling curious stories about long-dead relatives.  Each Christmas I went to the 5, 10 and 25 Cent store to buy my grandparents their traditional pencils and socks.

In the midst of mistletoe, tinsel, stuffing, cards, and mince meat pies, I loved Christmas.  But I didn’t love the reason for the season.  In the midst of the world’s most fun birthday party, I forgot to invite the birthday boy.  In the midst of family and togetherness, I forgot about the love that emanates from the Christmas manger.  Jesus, despite my being raised in church, just wasn’t on my ‘radar screen’.  Somehow he didn’t belong in Christmas, despite the fact that even the name Christmas spelled his name.

My prayer this Christmas for those reading this article is that the birthday boy of Christmas will once again be welcome at his own party.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

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In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.