Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


Leave a comment

Check out the brand new Alpha Film series Episode 01

 

You are encouraged to check out the brand new ‪#‎Alpha‬ Film Series | Episode 01: Is There More To Life Than This? It has the integrity of the original Alpha Course videos, set in a wonderful new media backdrop. Pray about showing this to your friends, family, neighbours or coworkers in the context of a meal.

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.


4 Comments

Remembering my dear Dad with Gratitude

 

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird  

Since my dad passed on June 25th 2019, many people have expressed their sincere condolences by email, snail mail, and in person. The sharing by so many at my dad’s funeral reception was deeply touching.

Dad was greatly loved and appreciated by many.  I thank God for my wonderful father, Ted Hird. As I was visiting my father near the end, I heard the words “This is the generation that defeated Hitler.” My dad and his compatriots became the Builder Generation that saved the world from totalitarian fascism, and then ushered in a new season of freedom and democracy.

It fills me with gratitude to have had a loving father that believed in me.  My dad was such an encourager. He listened deeply to people, no matter what their station in life. Many people, in their condolences, told me how much they appreciated my father’s sincere interest in their lives and work. Over the years, he often sent me e-mails and notes telling me how pleased he is with my work, my family and my life.  I want to be like my late father in his remarkable gift of encouragement.   It is so easy to be someone who sees what is wrong with other people. My dad looked for that which was working and built on it.

One of my dad’s greatest gifts to me was his almost sixty-seven year marriage to my late mom Lorna Hird. Dad illustrated the truth of Song of Songs when it said that love is stronger than death. Part of my passion for renewing marriage came from watching the deep lasting love of my mom and dad for each other. Dad the engineer and Mom the artist were very different personalities who were like iron sharpening iron. My dad liked things accomplished yesterday, and never wanted to be late for dinner. His most famous expressions were always food-related: “Call me anything, don’t call me late for dinner.”

When my dad became an electrical engineer in 1950, they were still using test-tubes for radio communication. Many years later, my dad was still growing and learning.  I too want to be the kind of father who never stops learning, never stops changing, never stops expanding my horizons.  Technology is always changing, but my dad was never left behind.  Even at age 95, my father was a passionate reader who consumed books in a way that kept his mind active and fresh.  My dad often ran out of books to read, and had to switch to another library. At age 95, Dad read the draft of our upcoming novel, and then apologized for taking two days to finish it.  I want to be a father that always keeps reading, and inspires my own children and grandchildren to read for the very pleasure of reading.

My father was a born leader.  He rose from very humble circumstances to become the President of Lenkurt Electric, at that time the largest secondary industry in BC.  I saw my father make wise decisions again and again in very difficult leadership situations.  I want to lead like my father did, with wisdom and patience. My father has raised up many younger leaders who have made a lasting difference in the world.  Like my father, I have a passion for raising up a new generation of healthy leaders, what I call the Timothys and Tituses.

Great leaders pass on the torch to others. Through my father, God passed on to me my gift and passion for writing.  Writing for me is like breathing. That is why I invested thirty years communicating as a Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News columnist. When my father wrote, he was sharp, crisp and clear.  I loved to receive from him new chapters every couple of months about his massive autobiography. My dad often told me about how he wished that when he was younger, he had asked his older aunts about family history. By the time he became curious about his own history, his aunts had passed on with their family stories unrecorded.

I often wish that I had my father’s carpentry skills.  It is remarkable how many gifts that he built through love for various members of our family, including my book shelves and my wife’s dining room cabinet.  My dad was always willing to help whenever he could. My dad was so gifted at fixing things that I often felt inadequate in comparison.  Later in Dad’s life, I watched him closely and noticed that he didn’t always fix things on the first try. Sometimes, it was on the seventh or eighth try. He never gave up. Observing my dad’s perseverance inspired me to give myself more grace in mechanical things.

My father developed a strong faith over the years that has been a great encouragement to me.  The late Rev Ernie Eldridge, Rector of St. Matthias Anglican Church, in his own quiet way, had a huge impact on my dad’s spiritual development. Ernie wisely appointed my dad as the Property Chairman for St. Matthias, helping my dad feel like he belonged as he fixed things at the church.  Ernie persuaded my dad to become publicly confirmed at age 48. Looking back, I believe that my dad’s Anglican confirmation was a major spiritual breakthrough that resulted in my coming to personal faith in Christ a month later.

As a former agnostic, my father became very interested in understanding the bible for himself.  It is great that I was able to openly chat with my father about our common faith in Jesus Christ.  I will never forget when my Dad discussed with me about Rev. Ernie’s invitation for Dad to be a lay administrant serving communion. Dad deeply respected my mother’s spirituality, and sometimes didn’t feel like he was as spiritual as mom. After dad told me clearly that he had received Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour, I encouraged my dad to take this step.  This was another major breakthrough in my dad’s Christian journey.  My dad was simultaneously a very public and a very private person. Near the end of Dad’s life, we celebrated Communion together many times in his apartment. Taking the Alpha Course four times was a major step in my father’s spiritual pilgrimage.

Near the end, my father’s deafness became more severe. Fortunately Dad could still read messages that I wrote for him on his IPad. One of my final IPad messages to him was “I love you, Dad”, to which he whispered to me “I love you too, son.” I deeply miss my Dad, give thanks for his life well-lived, and look forward to his future embrace in heaven.

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

-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News for Father’s Day.


2 Comments

2 Cups of Hot Apple Cider at House of James Abbotsford

Last night we had so much fun at House of James Abbotsford. If you have never been there, you will want to drop in. In an age when many Christian and mainstream bookstores are closing, House of James has morphed into a fresh entity, involving a coffeehouse, extensive music department, excellent food, and friendly relaxed atmosphere where you can just hang out while picking up a new book.

Some of people’s most favorite coffee shops would be Starbucks, Tim Hortons, and Bean around the World. The coffee is only half of the appeal. The other half is the atmosphere, the relaxed welcoming place to just be, the sense of community and connectedness that people are longing for. House of James Abbotsford is tapping into the holistic model. It is more than a bookstore, more than a coffeehouse, more than a music store. It is a place to be, to be yourself, to meet God.

Lando Klassen birthed House of James as a coffeehouse in 1973 during the Jesus Movement. All the essential DNA were there when it got off the ground: coffee, music, books, fellowship. Over the years,  House of James has morphed into a cutting-edge expression of the future of Christian bookstores.  Last night we did not just do a classic booksigning; we did a music concert with food and conversation and laughter.  Each of the 2nd Cup of Hot Apple Cider author had an opportunity to share from their portion of the book and from their life story. Dr Paul Beckingham and Bill Bonikowsky were hilarious and very insightful.   Fittingly I even drank a delicious 2nd cup of Hot Apple Cider before the evening was over.  My wife Janice and I shared from our chapter in 2nd Cup of Hot Apple Cider about our thirty-four years of marriage, and the principles that we have learned about life and love.

Dr Paul Beckingham is a military chaplain and former theological professor at Carey Theological College. He has been featured in both the first and second Cup of Hot Apple Cider books. Paul’s award-winning book Walking Towards Hope tells the story of how he recovered from brain injury while serving as a missionary in Kenya. Dr JI Packer comments: “My guess is that you have never read anything like this narrative before. My amazement is that it exists at all. My plea is: Don’t miss it! I covet for you what it gave to me.”  Dr Eugene Peterson, author of ‘The Message’ translation says that “Paul Beckingham’s Walking Towards Hope is a compelling and rigorously honest account of unimaginable suffering forged detail-by-excruciating-detail in Kenya and Vancouver into a whole and holy life. The magnificence of the story itself is matched by the magnificen ce of the writing, language, unblemished by cliches, luminous as an icon.”

Bill Bonikowsky, a long-term Alpha Canada staff member and former YFC leader, told an unforgettable story of a neighbour’s cat that became trapped in his floorboards during a bathroom renovation. Bill is such a gracious, humble, and encouraging person. It is a privilege to be featured in a book with him, especially one with an initial print run of 45,000 copies.

We were very pleased to have, at the booksigning, Steve Almond, the publisher of the new Christian ‘Light’ magazine,  which has filled a huge hole left by the closing of BC Christian news. Steve is passionate about doing a new thing, something that will help impact the local Christian community in Greater Vancouver/Vancouver Island.

I would recommend that you contact House of James online to purchase ‘A 2nd Cup of Hot Apple Cider’ by clicking on ‘2nd Cup’.

Alternately you can dial into Amazon  either in the USA or Canada and order a copy.  It is a remarkably well-produced books with many stories that will inspire you and often leave you in grateful tears.

Dr Paul Beckingham speaking at the 2nd Cup of Hot Apple Cider book-signing

Bill Bonikowsky, author, speaking at the 2nd Cup of Hot Apple Cider book-signing

Lando Klassen, House of James bookstore owner, speaks at the 2nd Cup of Hot Apple Cider book-signing evening

Ed and Janice Hird speaking about their marriage chapter in 2nd Cup of Hot Apple Cider

Tim Bonikowsky playing at the 2nd Cup of Hot Apple Cider booksigning

Dr Paul Beckingham is well worth listening to, a remarkable survivor and thriver.

Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-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 


Leave a comment

Thank God for loving Mothers!

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Where would we be without our mothers?  Mothers keep the world on track.  Mothers never stop caring.  Mothers never stop giving.

Sometimes our generous mothers suffer from exhaustion.  The gift of Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the irreplaceable mothers in our lives.  One of the best gifts we can give is the gift of gratitude, the gift of thanksgiving, perhaps even the gift of doing the dishes!

My mother has often shown her love to me in delicious, unforgettable meals.  Love and food are intricately linked.  Can you think of anyone you really love that you have not eaten a meal with?  Mother’s Day itself is a major time for families to gather with their mothers and eat together.

My father keeps video records of our family gatherings.  From looking at our family videos, you would think that all we ever do is celebrate and eat together.  Good food is wonderful but without the presence of family and especially the mothers in our lives, food can leave you rather empty inside.  Experts tell us that a lot of over-eating and under-eating has to do with deep love-deficits in our lives.

When my father showed his appreciation to my mom, he would often express it by taking the whole family out to the White Spot restaurant.  The White Spot for me symbolized quality, caring, and family.  The second favorite spot that my father brought us to was Yen Lock’s in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown.  I initially used to stay at home with my grandmother, as I didn’t like Chinese food.  Eventually I overcame my culinary aversion and joined my mother and family for the Yen Lock celebrations.  Ironically Chinese food, especially chicken chow mein, is now my favorite meal!

One of my favorite food-inspired paintings is the famous Holman Hunt painting of Jesus standing with a lantern and patiently knocking on a weed-covered, closed door.  Holman Hunt’s inspiration for the painting came straight from Revelation 3:20: “Behold I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together”.  I was often puzzled why Jesus would want to eat with me, if I would open the door of my heart.  One day I realized that all true love, all true relationship involves food.  No wonder one of the highest act of worship involves bread and wine, eaten in remembrance of this wonderful relationship with Jesus.

IMG_3935My mother, like her mother before, is a true worshipper.  Her faith has been a great inspiration to me.  Thank you mother for inviting me to supper with Jesus, when I was wandering in the wilderness, lost and hungry.  Thank you mom for all those great meals year in and year out.  I now see more than ever that every portion was prepared with heart-felt love.  I am a better person today because of that unfailing love.

Food is love!  No wonder so many people around the world are discovering the meaning of love as they sit down for dinner at an Alpha course.  Lovingly prepared by mothers and others, Alpha dinners are becoming the highlight of many people’s weeks. Through Alpha dinners many mothers and others are discovering authentic, lasting community in a fragmented world.  After my own mother attended an Alpha Course dinner, she couldn’t stop raving about it!

My prayer for this Mother’s Day is that each of us will sit down for dinner with Jesus, the lover of our souls.

 

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

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

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 


Leave a comment

Bishop Silas Ng visited Rev. Nicky & Pippa Gumble of Alpha/HTB

Our Bishop Silas Ng visited Alpha Course founder Rev. Nicky & Pippa Gumble of Holy Trinity Brompton in London. Alpha is an amazing course. If you or your congregation have not yet taken Alpha yet, I would strongly recommend it.

-As a former Chair of Alpha Canada, it was a joy to have the Alpha Course thirty-one times during our 31 years at St. Simon’s.  My Battle for the Soul of Canada book has a chapter on the Alpha Course.

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.


1 Comment

Canon Dennis Bennett: Anglican Pioneer in Renewal

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

the life and work of the Rev Canon Dennis Bennett: a tribute to his contributions to 50 years of renewal in Canada 

My wife and I were privileged to hear Rita Bennett this July at the fiftieth anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal, which began in 1960 at St Luke’s Seattle.  Rita and her late husband Canon Dennis Bennett were an amazing tag team sharing about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

Many felt shock and disbelief in November lst, 1991 when told of Dennis Bennett’s death from a heart attack.  He was known world-wide as a pioneer and seed-planter in what Archbishop Michael Peers called in 1978 “…a revival of a witness to a neglected aspect of Christian truth – the power of the Spirit.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica 1973 Yearbook records that “when in 1960, Father Dennis Bennett announced to his congregation, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at Van Nuys, California that he had experienced a new outpouring of God’s Spirit, the recent movement can be said to have begun.”

The Rev Kevin Martin, formerly with Episcopal Renewal Ministries/Acts 29, said that Dennis Bennett “…was directly responsible for the charismatic movement in the Roman (Catholic) Church that now reaches into the millions.’  As of 2010, there are an estimated 110 million Roman Catholics involved in charismatic renewal, which perhaps accounts for the wide acceptance of the Alpha Course among many Roman Catholics.

Canon Bennett wrote six best-selling books, two of which sold over half a million copies each (Nine O’Clock in the Morning and The Holy Spirit and You).  During his 33 years in the Renewal, Dennis had the privilege of leading over 25,000 people into the Release or Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In 1979, the Rev Al Reimers, an Anglican priest, published the results of a comprehensive survey of charismatic renewal in Canada.  In his book, God’s Country, he wrote: “As far as I can determine, charismatic renewal came to Canada first through visits by Dennis Bennett in the early 1960’s…”

Dennis planted many seeds of renewal over the years across Canada: many have borne fruit and are still bearing fruit; others are just starting to sprout.

Shortly after moving to Seattle, Dennis began a lasting and most meaningful relationship with the Anglicans on Vancouver Island.  He first spoke at St John’s Quadra Anglican Church (Victoria) in 1962.  In 1974 Dennis and Rita led a very popular seminar on the Holy Spirit at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria.  From then on, Dennis and Rita were invited back many times by the ARC/Anglican Renewal Centre to lead seminars all over Vancouver Island.

The Rev Charles Alexander, the founding National Coordinator of Anglican Renewal Ministries (Canada) and author of Power to Serve, remembers Dennis well.  Charles recalls going down to Dennis’ parish in Seattle, (St Luke’s) and receiving much wisdom and encouragement from him.

Charles sees Dennis as “a very self-giving man” who certainly had a foundational role in the growth of renewal in Canada.  Charles, who has spent many years sharing the message of renewal across Canada, commented that Canadian Anglicans in renewal “owe Dennis a lot.’

Nine O’Clock in the Morning, by itself, has had life-changing effects on many Canadian Anglicans.  For example, the Venerable Jack Major from the Fraser Valley, BC, was given this book by a stranger at a funeral.  He reluctantly began to read the book, and before he could finish it, he experienced a life-changing Release of God’s Spirit in his life.  Later Jack brought Dennis and Rita to lead seminars in 1984 and 1986 at St Matthew’s Abbotsford; over 350 people registered for the latter.

I was Jack’s Assistant Priest at the time, so I can witness to its powerful effect on St Matthew’s in terms of spiritual and rapid numerical growth.  Archdeacon Jack “found Dennis to be a person of great intellectual ability but also able to convey the faith in such a beautifully simple way that one can’t miss it.’

Archdeacon Jack Major said that he had never met a more humble person and both he and Charles Alexander commented that Dennis would always remember who you were.  The Rev Fr Ron Barnes, former Chair of an Anglican Evangelism Unit, described Dennis as a “conservative, rational, sensible person who saw the gifts of the Spirit, not as something emotional but as genuine, rational, and normal.” Though Dennis Bennett’s teaching about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was a challenging message, it was always spoken in love.  As Archdeacon Patrick Tomter (from Dennis’ Diocese of Olympia) put it, Dennis “was always and forever a man of grace and, truth…He responded to criticism with warmth and humour .  The Diocese has always been particularly blessed by his presence.”

I first met Dennis through his books, and began a 7-year pilgrimage which culminated in 1979, when the Rev David Watson and my wife Janice helped me open up to new life in the Spirit.  But it wasn’t until I met Dennis in 1984 that he showed me by teaching and example how easy it is to lead another person to receive the Release or Baptism in the Spirit.  Until then, I had believed that ‘tongues’ were just for the few, and were difficult to receive.  Dennis showed me that Life in the Spirit is a free gift, and all that one had to do was ask.

Next to Nine O’Clock in the Morning, I found How to Pray for the Release of the Spirit  his most helpful book.  I recommend this book to any Anglican priest or lay person struggling with the challenge of renewing the renewal.

Lord, we thank you for the life and witness of Canon Dennis Bennett, and pray for your strength and encouragement upon his widow Rita Bennett and their family.

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

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of  Canada

-previously published in the Anglicans for Renewal Canada Magazine

-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 


1 Comment

The Prayer Book: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Three addresses were given at St. Paul’s Church, Bloor Street, Toronto, on May 1, 1999 at a special event organized by
the Prayer Book Society of Canada, Toronto Branch, in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer

by

The (late) Revd. Dr. Robert Crouse, retired Professor of Classics at King’s College, Halifax;

The Revd. Dr. James Packer, Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent College, Vancouver

The Revd. Dr. Ed Hird, rector of St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver (1987-2018)

“FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL”  (Col. 1:1-14)

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

The Revd. Ed Hird was ordained in 1980.  He served in the parishes of St. Philip’s, Vancouver, and St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford, before becoming the rector of St. Simon’s Church in North Vancouver in 1987.   Ed is the past National Chair of Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada, and has spoken at Renewal, Essentials and Prayer Book Society conferences in Honduras and in various locations across Canada.  Inspired by the Essentials movement, he re-introduced the Prayer Book as one of the two main Sunday services in his congregation.

   We live in an age in which the knowledge of God’s will is deemed by many to be either unknowable or irrelevant.  Our society reminds me of the story of the roving TV reporter who was sent out to the shopping malls on Saturday morning to investigate the problem of teenage apathy and ignorance.  Every teenager had the same response: “I don’t know and I don’t care”!   And to be fair, teenagers are not the only Canadians suffering from spiritual ignorance and apathy.  I remember an adult coming up to me after a sermon I preached in a previous parish.  This person said, “I’m totally shocked.  I have never made it before to the end of a sermon.  I would always just doze off and wake up at the end of the message.  But this time I actually heard it through to the end.”

This problem of apathy and ignorance can be traced back to the ancient disease of Pyrrhonism.  Pyrrhonism is a system of skeptical philosophy, expounded in 300 BC by the Greek thinker, Pyrrho of Elis.1  The heart of Pyrrhonism is the denial of all possibility of attaining certainty in knowledge.  All one is left with is the classic west-coast phrase: “Well, whatever works for you”.   With the collapse of confidence in objective truth, our Canadian culture is sinking in intellectual subjectivism and moral anarchy.  We have seen a Canadian judge strike down child pornography laws while claiming that our Canadian Constitution and our Charter of Rights somehow protect the possession of child pornography.  We live in an age where there “is no king and everyone does as they see fit.” (Judg. 21:25).  We live in an age of leadership crisis.  It is not just our politicians, our police officers, our school teachers, our military leaders.  Even in the Church, yes, in the Anglican Church, there is a profound leadership crisis that is crippling our corporate ability to get on with the task of making disciples of all nations.  Perhaps the never-ending “sexual politics” in the Anglican Church of Canada is really a symptom of a deeper leadership crisis.

More than ever, we need to discover afresh what it means to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and given the power to carry out that will.  As J. John at the Canterbury ‘98 Conference put it, “We only have enough time to do the will of God”.  So many of us in the Church are like Martha whom Jesus said was distracted by many things, but missing the main one of sitting at Jesus’ feet.

One of the many things I appreciate about the Prayer Book Society is the clarion call to prayer.  The Prayer Book Society is not a Colonel Blimp English Memorial Society.2  Rather it constitutes a mobilization of God’s troops to the sacred calling of spiritual warfare through sustained and intensive prayer.  If there is anything that we know about God’s will, it is that God wills that we “pray without ceasing”.  Let’s be honest.  How many of us need to cut back on our prayer life, because it is getting in the way of doing God’s will?  Despite any fears that prayer will make us so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good, the truth of the matter is that only the prayerful and heavenly-minded are ultimately any earthly good.  The late Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a living testimony to the intimate relationship between prayer and resulting action.

It is not without reason that the Apostle Paul calls us again and again to “devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2).  Prayer is the backbone of all lasting renewal.  As Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the famous Methodist missionary to India put it, “there can be no great spiritual awakening either in the individual or in the group unless and until the individual or the group give themselves to prayer.”3  Dr. Jones goes on to say: “When we feel that there is something wrong and that it is all ending in futility, instead of giving ourselves to prayer, we appoint a committee!  If a monument”, says Dr. Jones, “were erected over the dead situations in Christendom, we might inscribe on it ‘Committeed to Death’.  We call a committee instead of calling to prayer.”  It has been said that the 16th century Reformation began in Luther’s prayer closet.  The truth is that all reformation, all renewal, all restoration begins in someone’s prayer closet.  Quoting Dr. Jones again, “we find sooner or later that in prayer we either abandon ourselves or we abandon prayer.  Prayer will keep us from self-withholding or self-withholding will keep us from prayer.”4

I would encourage you, if you have your Bibles with you, to turn in the book of Colossians to Chapter One, which deals with one of the greatest prayers in the New Testament.  I believe that it would be presumptuous to try to improve on the New Testament prayers.  Rather, our goal as 21st Century Anglicans should be to model all of our prayers on the biblical pattern of prayer shown especially by Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  I remember my rector, Ernie Eldridge,  telling me that one of the great strengths of the Book of Common Prayer is that something like 80% of it is straight from the Bible.  The prayers in the BCP were written by people who were steeped in the biblical thought forms, and so produced biblically sound and lasting prayers.

Paul is writing here to a formerly great and flourishing city that had been in a recession for the last three to four hundred years.  Colossae, whose name means “Monstrosity”, had become a backwater no-name town that had been left behind in the busy pace of 1st century Greek life.  Its neighbouring towns, Laodicea and Hierapolis were well-known respectively for their financial and administrative prowess, and for their burgeoning tourist and hot springs industry.  They, like Colossae, were located on the River Lycus, a river famous for overlaying its surrounding river banks with thick deposits of chalk.  As Bishop J.B. Lightfoot put it, “Ancient monuments are buried; fertile land is overlaid; river beds choked up and streams diverted; fantastic grottoes and cascades and archways of stone are formed, by this strange, capricious power, at once destructive and creative, working silently throughout the ages.  Fatal to vegetation, these incrustations spread like a stony shroud over the ground.  Gleaming like glaciers on the hillside, they attract the eye of the traveller at a distance of twenty miles, and form a singularly striking feature in scenery of more than common beauty and impressiveness.”5  In some ways, Bishop Lightfoot’s description seems like a parable of the Canadian Church … beautiful, impressive, but calcified and choked up by double-mindedness and fear.

Paul had never personally visited Colossae.  Rather, he preached extensively in the coastal city of Ephesus, with the result that his new converts spread the gospel extensively to many lesser-known cities and towns that were further inland.  There is a remarkable similarity between the books of Ephesians and Colossians, especially in the structure of Paul’s prayers in both epistles.  In both Colossians and Ephesians, Paul centres his prayer in thanksgiving.  You will notice in verse 3 how Paul says: “We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you …”.  In a structure similar to that of the Lord’s Prayer, Paul pays the debt of gratitude before he moves into his personal requests.  “Thy kingdom come” needs to come before “Give us this day our daily bread.”  In the Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbel says that the three key prayers that we can pray are “thank you”, “please”, and “sorry”.   Back in 1931, Bishop Lewis Radford of Goulbourn, Australia commented regarding this passage that “a survey of the grounds for thanksgiving revives the spirit of hope, and provides fresh material for petition.”6  The Christian life is not a life of Pollyanna-style positive thinking, but rather that of eucharistic thanksgiving in all circumstances, trusting that God can turn everything that is against us to our advantage, that all things work to the good for those who love him.

Why was Paul so thankful?  Verses 4 and 5 tells us that Paul was thankful because of the great triad of Christian graces: faith, hope, and love.  So often when Paul prays, he prays according to the three-fold pattern of the only things that will remain in the end.  Faith: their faith in Christ Jesus; Hope: hope stored up for us in heaven; and Love: love for all the saints.  As Bishop J.B. Lightfoot put it, “faith rests on the past; love works in the present; hope looks to the future”.7  Does the Prayer Book Society, indeed does the Anglican Church have a future as we celebrate the 450th Anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer?   I believe that the answer to both questions is yes, if we will ground our Christian life more and more on the three-fold graces of faith, hope and love.

I will always remember Dr. Robert Crouse’s presentation at the Montreal Essentials ‘94 Conference when he spoke of “despair, that most dangerous of all sins.”8  Satan, the ultimate deceiver and seducer of God’s people, is a past master at the use of discouragement and despair in crippling the saints.  He would love us to believe that Anglicanism is beyond hope, that there is no point in praying and working for the restoration of biblical orthodoxy.   We can thank our Lord Jesus Christ that he will always have a faithful Anglican witness in Canada, even if someday it may require missionaries from Africa and Asia to come and re-establish the gospel in our own homeland.

The good news found in verse 6 of Chapter 1 of Colossians is that “all over the world the gospel is producing fruit and growing”.  Lambeth ‘98 was a powerful reminder of that truth with the hundreds of Asian, African, and South American bishops making their presence felt in unforgettable ways.  The gospel, as Bishop Lewis Radford put it, is both a transforming force and a travelling fire.9  It is a fire that cannot be stamped out no matter how hard secularists and revisionists may try.  Verse 7 tells us about Epaphras, the founder of the Church at Colossae.  Some early church traditions make him the first bishop of Colossae.10  Verse 7 describes him as “our dearly loved fellow servant”, as a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf.  Both Paul and Epaphras were passionate that the Colossians should be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.  Epaphras was so passionate about this that Paul commented in Colossians chapter 4, verse 2 that Epaphras was “always wrestling in prayer for you that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”  The Greek word for wrestling is agonizomenos which means to agonize.  It is God’s will that each of us agonize in prayer for the restoration of faithful Anglicanism in Canada.  Wrestling in prayer is the key to being filled with the knowledge of God’s will.

That is why the Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, the Anglican priest who wrote the “12 Steps” and helped to found Alcoholics Anonymous, quoted Colossians Chapter 1 in writing step 11.  What does Step 11 encourage us to pray for: “… the knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.”

What is the use of knowing what to do, if we haven’t the power to do it?  What is the use of studying the Bible if we never do the Bible?  What is the use of praying the Prayer Book if we never live out the Prayer Book?  The key to doing the Bible and living the Prayer Book is Colossians chapter 1, verse 8: “love in the Spirit”.  It is not the love of power that will set the Anglican Church free, but rather the power of love.  Dr. Gordon Fee, the well known New Testament Scholar from Regent College, notes that virtually everywhere that the word “power” is used in the New Testament, it is referring to the power of the Holy Spirit.11  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to change.  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to love.  Only the Holy Spirit can give us the power to forgive.  Verse 8 tells us the secret of lasting renewal: “love in the Spirit”.

In the early days of Anglican renewal, a bishop in northern B.C. fired his dean because some of his parishioners had had the nerve to pray that the bishop be filled with the Holy Spirit.  If only they had just prayed forthe bishop to be filled afresh or anew, the Dean might have kept his job.  Why do all of us need to be filled with the Spirit again and again? (Eph. 5:18).  The reason, as D.L. Moody put it, is that we leak.  It is always touchy to pray for one’s bishop without sounding like one is trying to give his bishop advice.  It is so easy for us to dump all our unmet dreams and frustrations on the back of our bishops.  Yet God calls us to bless and not curse.  God calls us in verse 9 to never give up praying for each other, and that certainly includes our bishops.  Verse 9 is a wonderful way to pray for your bishop, your rector, and your wardens in a way that none of them could possibly object to.  Just pray that God will fill them with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  All of us need to be filled up, to be more full of God’s grace, peace, joy, hope, and faith so that we will be more full, more grace-full, more peace-full, more joy-full, more faith-full.  The point of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) is to fill us up inside with more of the character of Jesus Christ.

What will being filled with the knowledge of God’s will really do for us?  Paul tells us in verse 10 that such filling will result in our walking worthy of God, in our pleasing the Lord in every way, in our bearing fruit in every good work, in our growing in the knowledge of God.  Being filled with the knowledge of His will is the key not only to living in the Spirit but also to walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).  As our AA friends remind us, it is not enough to talk the talk; we also need to walk the walk.

Yet all of us are powerless in ourselves to change our lives.  In fact, no change is possible until we admit in the words of Step 1 that “We are powerless over our (addictions and sins) and our lives have become unmanageable”.  The reason why “12 Step” people talk so much about a Higher Power is that our own power, our own resources, are never enough to make a lasting difference.  We need, in the words of Luke 24:49, to be clothed with power from on high, the very power of the Holy Spirit.  That is why Acts 1:8 says that “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.”.  That is why Colossians chapter 1 verse 11 talks about our being strengthened with all power: in the Greek, “being powered with all power”, with all dunamis, all dynamite.  There are logjams in Anglicanism that nothing but the power, the dynamite, of the Holy Spirit can possibly remove.  All of us know many faithful Anglicans who have given up in despair and left our church, perhaps returning occasionally for their Communion “fixes”.  When we think of the mother/father God/Goddess apostasy that the new ACC “Common Praise” hymn book is leading us into, only the power of the Holy Spirit will be able to lead us out of that syncretistic swamp.  Yet with God, nothing is impossible!  Would anyone like to become the founders of a Blue Hymn Book Society of Canada?

Dr. E. Stanley Jones holds that “the difference between a river and a swamp is that one has banks and the other has none.  The swamp is very gracious and kindly, it spreads over everything, hence it is a swamp.  Some of us are moral and spiritual swamps.  We are so broad and liberal that we take in everything from the shady to the sacred.  Hence we are swamps.  A river has banks – it confines itself to its central purpose.  The civilizations of the world organize themselves not around swamps, but around rivers.”12

To me, the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible are rivers.  The new Common Praise hymn book in contrast is a gracious and kindly swamp.  The river that is the Holy Spirit confines Himself to His central purpose, which is to fill us with the knowledge of the Father’s will and to give us the power to carry that out.  The Colossian Christians were a tiny, faithful minority living in a “new-age” spiritual scene.  As with the original Colossian church, one of the greatest challenges facing our Anglican Church is well-meaning interfaith syncretism.  In our worship of newness and inclusiveness, we are rushing to replace the riverbanks of our BCP with the neo-gnostic swamp of centering prayer/mantra yoga, enneagram workshops, labyrinths, Jungian-based MBTI personality tests, and invocations of “God our Father and our Mother”.13  Lord, forgive us for our naïve worship of the seemingly new and trendy, and for our disrespect for the wisdom of our Anglican forebears.  Genuine renewal is actually about renewing the riches of our inheritance in Christ Jesus, not about uncovering secret “new revelations”. (Eph. 1:18)

Most renewal movements in the past few centuries, including the various holiness, pentecostal, charismatic, and third-wave expressions, can be traced back to the influence of two Anglican priests, John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism.  Canadian Methodism was the largest of the bodies which came together to form the United Church of Canada in 1925.  Few people realize what a high view the Wesleys had of the Anglican prayer book and of the Anglican Church in general.  Even on the verge of being forced to ordain his own preachers, John Wesley commended the Church of England to his leaders as “the best constituted national church in the world”.14  John Wesley also taught his followers that “there is no LITURGY in the World, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational Piety, than the COMMON PRAYER of the CHURCH of ENGLAND”.15  John Wesley did not just appreciate the Prayer Book theology.  He even loved its language, language which he described as “not only pure, but strong and elegant in the highest degree.”16  John and Charles Wesley experienced manifestations of the Holy Spirit that would make the Toronto Airport Fellowship look tame, yet the Wesleys still held up the Prayer Book as a vital tool for orthodoxy and renewal.  And John Wesley was even radical enough that he advised all his clergy to administer the Lord’s Supper every Sunday at the main service.17

As Dr. Bard Thompson put it, “It was the way of John Wesley to espouse extempore prayer, yet esteem the prayer book; to give free expression to evangelical power, yet prize the structures of the church …”18  Yet sadly Wesley’s wisdom was largely ignored.  His followers decided that they could pray better and with more devotion when their eyes were shut, than they could with their eyes open, praying from a book.19  So they cast aside the Prayer Book and produced the United Church of Canada instead.  Wesley drew the balance between the stability of tradition and the dynamism of the Spirit.  His followers, however, became progressively less rooted generation after generation.  It is so easy to cast aside “the riches of our inheritance”.  It is much harder to humble ourselves enough to go back home and start afresh.  I remember how hard I tried to convince my Grandma Allen to “get with it” and give up on the Book of Common Prayer.  But she was so “stubborn and inflexible” that she died with the Bible and the Prayer Book by her bedside.

Our parish of St. Simon’s had not used the Book of Common Prayer at its main service for over 25 years.  When I came back from the Montreal ‘94 Essentials Conference and suggested that we might try doing the Prayer Book on fifth Sundays, some of my leadership secretly wondered if I might have lost my mind.  But eventually they came to see in unity what I was talking about.

Reintroducing the Prayer Book as one of our two main services has brought 30% growth in average Sunday attendance over the next two years.  I am not saying that it was easy to reintroduce the Book of Common Prayer.  Many Anglicans don’t like change, even if it means restoring the riches of their inheritance.  There are many well-meaning Anglican clergy out there who would rather die than admit they may have made a mistake in abandoning the classic Book of Common Prayer.  Many clergy have battle scars from liturgy wars in the 1970’s and early 80’s.  They have finally achieved relative liturgical calm in their parishes and they are reluctant to “open up old wounds”, and disturb the relative truce.

But God’s will for us as clergy is not merely for us to preserve the peace or to be keepers of ecclesiastical aquariums, but rather to be fishers of men and women.  Our greatest desire as Anglican leaders must be our desire to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and to have the power of the Holy Spirit to carry it out.  Why else do we pray every day “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”.  What is God’s will?  The Bible is clear that God’s will, among other things, is that we go into all the world, preaching the gospel to all creation, and that we make disciples of all nations (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19).  1 Timothy chapter 2, verses 4 and 5 tells us clearly that God’s will is that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, and that there is only one mediator, one bridge between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.

The leadership crisis in Anglicanism is directly linked to a growing fuzziness of vision regarding God’s will that the lost be found.  Many church leaders are beginning to publicly question whether the lost are really lost after all, and whether God really wants to find them.  Unless we are convinced that the man Christ Jesus is the only mediator between God and humanity, and that he really gave himself as a ransom for all, not just for those raised in the church or in the west, we will not have the power to carry out this great and lasting commission.  As Dr. John Stott put it at an Vancouver Anglican Essentials gathering, we claim uniqueness and finality in Christ alone.

If all we do is squabble about liturgical preferences and do not reach the lost, we are a people most to be pitied.  The Book of Common Prayer is not an ingrown book.  It is a book with a passion that the lost might be found.  In contrast to the BAS, the BCP is clear that God wants us to win the world for Christ.  The BAS, if you read it carefully, is written in a way that it can either encourage you to do evangelistic mission work for Christ or merely to affirm God in all cultures.  The BCP, however, is uncompromising in its biblical stance that “God is not willing that any should perish but that all may come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  As the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, said at Kanuga, “Evangelism is not a matter to be debated but a command to be obeyed.”  God’s will, as expressed in Colossians 1 verse 13, is that he might rescue (many) from the dominion of darkness and bring (them) into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we might have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  We say each Sunday in the Creed that we believe in the forgiveness of sins.  Are you sharing that forgiveness with your lost neighbour, family member, co-worker?

I pray in conclusion that God may fill each of us with the knowledge of His will, that none should perish, that all may come to repentance, and that God may give us the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out his will to the very ends of the earth, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

-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. 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

– 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 

 Endnotes:

  1. The Oxford Dictionary of the Church, F.L. Cross, ed. (Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 1128.

  2. Colonel Blimp was a humorous anachronistic figure in the British WW2-based television series “Dad’s Army”.

  3. Dr. E. Stanley Jones, Pentecost: the Christ of Every Road, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1930), p. 247.

  4. Ibid., p. 248.

  5. The Rt. Revd. Dr. J.B. Lightfoot, as quoted in Dr. William Barclay’s The Daily Study Bible: the Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (Toronto: G.R. Welch Co. Ltd.), p. 91.

  6. The Rt. Revd. Dr. Lewis B. Radford, Colossians (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1931), p. 3.

  7. Ibid., p. 151.

  8. Anglican Essentials, George Egerton, ed. (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1995), p. 289.

  9. Radford, op. cit., p. 153.

  10. Ibid., p. 154.

  11. Dr. Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), p. 35.

  12. Dr E. Stanley Jones, op. cit., p. 227.

  13. As done in the Canadian Anglican “Common Praise” hymn book (1999), which tragically alters the much-loved “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” hymn from “God our Father, Christ our Brother” to “God our Father and our Mother”.

  14. Liturgies of the Western Church, “The Sunday Service”, ed. Bard Thompson, (Cleveland and New York, Meridan Books, The World Publishing Company, 1961), p. 416.

  15. Ibid., p. 416.

  16. Ibid., p. 416.

  17. Ibid., p. 416.

  18. Ibid., p. 416.

  19. Ibid., p. 410.

This booklet is published by the Toronto Branch of the Prayer Book Society of Canada.  Additional copies can be ordered at a cost of $2 each from Dr. Diana Verseghy, 16 Capilano Court, Concord, Ontario, L4K 1L2.
E-mail: Diana.Verseghy@ec.gc.ca