Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


3 Comments

O Little Town of Bethlehem

By The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I will always remember my ‘star’ Christmas performance back in kindergarten days.  There I was dressed up as a Christmas shepherd, with my staff, bedrobe, and head-scarf.  I was so excited about being a shepherd that I forgot where I was supposed to meet the rest of the cast.  So I sat down at the front of the stage and waited for them to find me.  Unfortunately that lost kindergarten shepherd was never found, until the whole pageant was over.  I was most disappointed, and ‘vowed’ that day to never become a famous Hollywood actor.

 

Almost 2,000 years ago in the little town of Bethlehem (not Bellingham, as we’d often sing as children), a little shepherd baby was born in a filthy cow barn.  Many shepherds were drawn to admire this tiny little child, little knowing that this baby would one day become a Good Shepherd for many.  Years later, this christmas baby-turned-thirty said: “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep”.

It is amazing how much that Christmas Carols speak to the hearts of adults and children alike.  Those of us living on the North Shore are well aware of the remarkable popularity of the Carol Ships travelling past Deep Cove and Cates Park year after year.

 

Carols have a certain poetry, romance, and mystery that draws us unfailingly year after year. When we sing: “Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by”, we almost feel like we were there when the Christmas Star first shone bright.  Christmas Carols teach truth, but in a subtle way that feels entirely natural.  In singing “Yet in thy dark street shineth the everlasting Light”, we are reminded that there is a battle between good and evil, light and darkness, but that Light is always more powerful than darkness.  No wonder the Christmas baby later called himself the Light of the World.  He also said that whoever followed him will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

No wonder we love to sing: “The hopes and fear of all the years are met in thee tonight.”  There is something about the Christmas baby that inspires hope and banishes fear, no matter how cynical or jaded we tend to be.  Many Christmas Carols have a beautiful sense of stillness and quiet about them.  There is so little quiet and stillness left in our fast-paced, frenetic culture.  Maybe that is why we are drawn to sing: “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given!  So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.”  All of us need more inner peace, more shalom in our lives.  All of us need the stillness and tranquillity of the Christmas baby, known in Hebrew as Yeshua.

The deepest truths of Christmas go far beyond the beautiful tree, the tasty turkey, the colourful lights.  The deepest truths are invisible and silent, but still very powerful and real.  That is why we sing that “no ear may hear his coming.” Just like with the love between a man and wife, the most important things in life can’t be scientifically measured or technologically formulated.  Christmas is a mystery that defies all logical attempts to explain it away.  Christmas is the miracle of new birth, not only 2,000 years ago, but also potentially in our hearts.  That is why so many of us never tire of singing: “Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.”

My Christmas prayer for those reading this article is that many may discover afresh the joy of the inner meaning of Christmas Caroling.

 

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

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. 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, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, 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’, #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 ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

Advertisements


14 Comments

Good King Wenceslas last looked out…

 By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the best loved Christmas Carols is the 158-year-old carol: Good King Wenceslas.  In 1853, John Mason Neale chose Wenceslas as the subject for a children’s song to exemplify generosity.  It quickly became a Christmas favorite, even though its words clearly indicate that Wenceslas ‘looked out’ on St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas.  So Good King Wenceslas is actually a Boxing Day carol!  For a tune, Neale picked up a spring carol, originally sung with the Latin text ‘Tempus adest floridum’ or ‘Spring has unwrapped her flowers’.  This original spring tune was first published in 1582 in a collection of Swedish church and school songs.

Wenceslas was the Duke of Bohemia who was murdered in 929 AD by his wicked younger brother, Boleslav.  As the song indicates, he was a good, honest, and strongly principled man.  The song expresses his high moral character in describing King Wenceslas braving a fierce storm in order to help feed a poor neighbour.  Wenceslas believed that his Christian faith needed to be put into action in practical ways.  Wenceslas was brought up with a strong Christian faith by his grandmother St. Ludmila. Wenceslas’ own mother Drahomira, however, joined forces with an anti-Christian group that murdered Wenceslas’ grandmother, and seized power in Bohemia.  Two years later in 922 AD, the evil Drahomira was deposed, and Good King Wenceslas became the ruler.  He became Bohemia’s most famous martyr and patron saint.  His picture appeared on Bohemian coins, and the Crown of Wenceslas became the symbol of Czech independence.

Even as a young child, I remember feeling moved as I sung this unusual carol.  Why does Good King Wenceslas have such a deep and lasting impact on its hearers?  Perhaps it is because there are so many levels of meaning to this carol.  A child may hear one thing, an adult may hear another.  I find that I can sing it again and again, and new meaning continues to pour forth from the carol.  Recently the phrase ‘Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer’ really spoke to me.  It reminded me that sometimes there are times in our lives when life and its stresses seem to overwhelm us, and we feel that ‘we can go no longer.’  The response of Good King Wenceslas was most interesting.  He said: ‘Mark my footsteps, my good page, Tread thou in them boldly: Thou shalt find the winter’s rage freeze thy blood less coldly.’  Wenceslas reminds us that when we are all alone, life can feel very bleak.  It is at such times that solidarity with another human being can help ‘our blood freeze less coldly’.  Wenceslas affirms that we are not alone, and subtly points to the basic Christmas message that Jesus our Master will never leave us in the cold.

In His Master’s Steps

In the last verse are the memorable words: ‘In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted.’  The author John Neale, an Anglican priest, shows us here that the essence of true living is learning to walk in our Master’s steps.  All of us need a Higher Power to help guide us along our journey.  Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me (and tread in my steps), he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Our challenge each Christmas is to look beyond the toys and tinsel, to see ‘the Master’s steps.’

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church, North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. 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, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, 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’, #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 ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


5 Comments

Jolly Old St Nicholas

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Ever since Coca-Cola decided to promote Santa Claus as part of their soft drink campaign, Santa or St. Nicholas became a household name in North America. Santa is from the Dutch word for Saint. Claus is again a Dutch contraction for Nicholas.

Do you remember back when John Lennon said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ? Do you remember the controversy? John, of course, was right. The Beatles were for a while more popular and more central for millions. So too is Santa Claus bigger than the baby Jesus at Christmas. As a young boy, St. Nicholas for me was the heart of Christmas. The fact that my mother insisted on dragging me to church on Christmas seemed to me like a horrible religious intrusion into an otherwise good holiday.

When I was 5 years old, though, I became suspicious when Santa kept appearing at all the different shopping centres. I calculated that no reindeer could fly that fast and be in so many places at once. Once I shared my conclusions with my five year old friends, I was amazed that some of my friends’ mothers were not as excited about my “findings” as I was!

Many years later I was surprised to discover that “yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus” History tells us that there was a real, live Santa Claus or St. Nicholas in the country of Turkey during the early 4th Century. St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra. He was a very faithful Christian who endured terrible suffering and imprisonment during the great persecution by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 303 A.D.

During this time, many church buildings were destroyed, bibles were burnt, and priests were murdered. As a result of his faithful suffering, Nicholas ended up being made Saint, the Patron Saint of sailors, Russia, and children. His symbol became 3 bags of gold, the dowry he was supposed to have given to three girls to save them from embarrassment. That, of course, is the origin of Santa bringing presents at Christmas.

The musician Randy Stonehill wrote in a Christmas song that “I know that if St. Nicholas was here, he would agree that Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me” It is quite clear that the real Santa Claus (Nicholas) loved Jesus very much, and was willing to suffer for his faith. I believe that if Santa Claus were here today, he would say “Don’t just leave Jesus in the Manger. Make room for Him in your heart, not only at Christmas, but all year round”

This Christmas may we all remember the words of that famous carol Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. “O Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today..”

Merry Christmas!

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

 BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the North Shore News

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

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. 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, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, 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’, #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 ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide