Christmas is about love. It is so easy to be cynical about love, to be hurt by what looks like love, to give up on ever being truly loved. What is love, sang Tina Turner, but a second hand emotion? When we are hurt, our heart can shut down. We can grow cold and jaded, singing with Tina: “Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” Sometimes in my life, my heart has grown cold. Sometimes I lose my passion. That is when God has broken in and renewed my heart with his love. I remember one time when he literally baptized my heart with love. It seemed like I was walking in an ocean of God’s love and healing. I wish that I could live there daily.
Love means many different things to many people. For some, love is expressed through gift-giving. We can thank the three wise men bringing gifts for the flood of presents given every Christmas. But love is more than just giving people gifts. Love is also about quality time. We live in a frantically busy culture, particularly on the North Shore, where it seems like there is never enough time to do all that we want to do. It is so easy in our task orientation to lose the relational focus. Love stops to listen. Love puts down the newspaper and the cell phone to give true face-to-face time. Love is curious, open and present. Love is willing to change. Love is willing to grow. Love is willing to admit that we are often wrong.
Love chooses to encourage when everyone else is tearing down another person. Love, in the words of 1 Corinthians 13, never gives up on you, always believes in you, always takes a chance on you. Love realizes that sticks and stones do break our bones, that words will hurt and crush us. Love says no to bullying. Love grieves over the tragic loss of Amanda Todd. Love never gives up, never lets go, always speaks blessing. Love adds value. Love cares. Love respects. Love allows you to be yourself.
Love doesn’t just talk the talk. It walks the walk. Love is practical, down-to-earth. Love is a cup of cold water, the gift of a meal, a roof over our head. Love is the washing of another’s feet, the wiping of their brow. Love is meeting people’s needs. Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche Community, said that love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness. The Great Physician said that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Love is the way of the cross, the way of suffering, the way of unselfishness.
Love is both a verb and a noun. To say that God is love is true, but it can feel abstract. What if God put love into action by entering our neighbourhood? What if God came down at Christmas? What if Christmas is actually about God embracing us?
This Christmas I invite you to look again at the baby in the manger, the Christ child. Ask yourself if love came down at Christmas. Ask yourself if this love might touch your heart. The greatest is love. May love fill you, your family and your friends to overflowing during this Advent/Christmas season.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.
Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…
A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.
Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?
Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.
If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or kindle.
-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.
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 theyears, 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 Newsfor Father’s Day.