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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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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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Hark The Herald Angels Sing!

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

There is something about the Christmas season that starts you singing.  Many people hardly ever sing in public.  Yet Christmas can turn them into instant musicians, belting out Jingle Bells, Away in a Manger, or I wish you a Merry Christmas.  My best friend as a teenager was a self-professed atheist, but he loved to sing Christmas Carols.  I will always remember going door-to-door with my atheist friend singing Silent Night, Holy Night and raising money for the local Christmas Stocking Fund.

One of the best loved carols of all time is Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  Charles Wesley, the brother of the famous John Wesley, wrote this carol in 1739.  Charles wrote over 6,500 hymns, making him the most prolific hymn-writer of all time.  Charles was born on December 18th, 1707, the 18th of 18 children.  His father, Samuel Wesley, an Anglican priest in Epworth, had a very profound impact on his life.  Both Charles and his brother John had a first class education at Oxford, where Charles worked on his MA  On May 21st, 1738, Charles underwent a life-changing conversion which significantly released within him his gift of song-writing.  Almost every day Charles would be writing another brand-new hymn.  Both Charles and his brother John were ordained Anglican priests.  In those days, Anglicans never sung hymns in church.  They only sang the psalms.  Hymn-singing and carol-singing was seen as a very radical thing to do.

At times, Charles and John Wesley would encounter great opposition as they went around singing and preaching the gospel.  In February 1747 at Devizes, the two brothers were attacked by a mob which surrounded their house, broke the windows, tore off the shutters, and flooded the house with water pumped from a fire engine.  In response, Charles wrote a hymn which they sang as they left town.  Sometimes the beautiful songs themselves would tame the unruly mob, and turn them away from violence.

Hundreds of thousands of lives were affected by these two musical brothers.  Some historians credit the Wesleys with having prevented the French Revolution from reoccurring in 18th century England.  Instead England went through a spiritual revolution that greatly improved the lot of the working class.  At that time, adults and even children could be legally hanged for 160 different offenses –from picking a pocket to stealing a rabbit.  In London, 75% of all children died before age 5.  Among the poor, the death rate was even higher.  In one orphanage, only one of 500 orphans survived more than a year.  Alcohol abuse was rampant, even among children, with over 11 million gallons of Gin consumed in 1750.  Charles and John Wesley believed that changed hearts could lead to a changed society.  Their impact on 18th century society was phenomenal in the areas of health, politics, prisons, economics, education, music, and literature.

Few people realize that the carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing took over 120 years to finish.  The tune that we now use to sing this carol was actually composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840.  Fifteen years later, an English musician W.H. Cummings applied Mendelssohn’s music to Wesley’s carol.  Felix Mendelssohn was a Jewish believer in Jesus who is famous for reintroducing Johann Sebastian Bach to the musical world, as well as for his oratios Elijah and St. Paul.

As we sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing each Christmas, let us do so with a new thanksgiving for the sacrifices and dedication of those who have given us the heritage of Christmas Caroling.  My Christmas prayer is that the words ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King’ may touch the hearts of many men, women, and children during the Holidays.

 

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

-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 


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, 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. 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 


14 Comments

Good King Wenceslas last looked out…

 By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the best loved Christmas Carols is the 165-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, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning 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

 

-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, Canada 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, Canada 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