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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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More than Just Chocolate…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Once every year, billions of people around the world pause to remember the mystery of Easter. Most people love Easter: bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing. In the air, you can sense victory and resurrection and new life. No wonder that churches have many visitors on Easter Sunday.

For sixty-six years, the St. Simon’s NV family has been celebrating Easter.  I have always enjoyed Easter, especially for the chocolate.  Just like Christmas, Easter has its food connection and its spiritual connection.  Most people love to eat.  Easter family gatherings invariably involve lots of delicious food, especially those wonderful hot cross buns.

Good Friday is a traditional fast day where many choose not to eat in order to remember Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins.  Easter Sunday is a traditional feast day where families celebrate with delicious feasts.   Without Good Friday, Easter Sunday makes no sense.  Without Easter Sunday, Good Friday is just a terrible tragedy.  Good Friday shows that God can turn everything that is against us to our advantage. God transformed Good Friday (the most evil day in history) into Easter Sunday (the most beautiful day in history).

Many of us steer clear of Good Friday because it reminds us of death, of pain, and of our own personal mortality. Sometimes we may question: what on earth is Good about Good Friday? What’s so good about someone going through the worst suffering and most excruciating death ever imagined?  Good Friday seems too morbid, too deadly, too bloody.

Modern medical science is wonderful in the way that it can prolong life that would often otherwise be over.  But medicine can only postpone the inevitable facing all of us.  We are mortals here on earth.  In my mid-teen period, I lost sight of the power of Easter, and concluded that there was no life after death. Death was final, and that was the end of it.  Nothing was waiting for me but the grave.  What was it all about, I wondered?  Was life really worth the effort? I began to fear the power of death and the meaninglessness and emptiness of life. I even secretly wondered if life itself was worth living.

In the midst of my teenage self-doubt,  I still loved Easter, but I didn’t get it.  The flowers, the food, the fun and even Easter worship were enjoyable, but somehow I missed the message.  It is funny how you can celebrate something that you grow up with, and yet the real meaning can be missed.  When the penny finally dropped, when the light came on, it was like waking up from the dead.  I finally understood that Jesus solved the unsolvable death problem, and that by faith in him, the future is bright and unstoppable.

My prayer for those of you who love the Easter season is that you may realize that at the end of the day, love is stronger than death, and love has the final word.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St Simon’s North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-an article for the April 2012 Deep Cove Crier

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

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

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

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

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

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

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

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T.G.I.F.

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I vividly remember my father coming home from work on Fridays, and calling out ‘TGIF!!’  Often such announcements would be followed by our whole family going out to celebrate at Nat Bailey’s White Spot restaurant.  The White Spot, like A&W, used to be famous for its tradition of eating dinner in one’s car.  No self-respecting Vancouverite would dream of eating fish and chips anywhere else.

TGIF was also a pressure that I experienced as an older teenager: a pressure to make my Friday nights very exciting and sensational.  If I wasn’t experiencing an adrenaline rush on Friday night, I would feel guilty as if I had failed the invisible TGIF law of the universe.

More recently, I have discovered another meaning to TGIF. TGIF also means facing our fears, facing our anxieties, facing our grief.  Friday is a symbol of the ending of the week and also the ending of life.  Friday is both an ending and a new beginning, a dying and a potential rising.  Very few of us want to face our own personal mortality.  Yet our fears of dying are actually our fears of living.

TGIF also makes me think of the most important Friday in the year: Good Friday.  Thank God It’s (Good) Friday!  Many of us avoid Good Friday like the plague, because like a plague, Good Friday reminds us of death, of pain, and of our own personal mortality.  Sometimes we wonder: what in the world is Good about Good Friday?  What’s so good about someone going through the worst torture and most agonizing death ever invented?

Many of us are tempted to switch TGIF to TGIS: Thank God It’s Sunday (Easter Sunday in particular).  Everybody loves Easter: bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing.  Everybody loves victory and resurrection and new life.  No wonder every church is packed with visitors on Resurrection Sunday.  But very few of us love Good Friday.  Good Friday just seems too morbid, too deadly, too bloody.  It just seems too hard to say TGIF about Good Friday.

I remember as a boy when I first watched a movie about Good Friday.  I was struck by the hatred of the soldiers towards Jesus, the brutality that he endured, the whippings and the nails driven in his hands and feet.  It all seemed so unfair, so unnecessary.  What in the world was good about such a Good Friday?  I wanted to drag Jesus down from the cross and save him from his agony.  I knew that he had the power to call a legion of angels to save him.  Yet he didn’t.  I felt very disappointed in Jesus.  My other hero Superman always got away when the green Kryptonite was about to kill him.  But Jesus let me down and ‘wimped out’ by dying on me.  For years, Easter made no sense to me, because I thought it was about remembering a dead Jesus.  I had no idea that Jesus was alive and well, and just waiting to change my life.

As a teenager, I became convinced that there was no life after death, and that nothing awaited me but extinction and returning to dust.  I began to fear the power of death and the meaninglessness and emptiness of life.  I even began to secretly wonder if life itself was worth living.  TGIF began to lose its effect on me.

One day in Grade 12, I met some fellow students who seemed different: happier, more peaceful, more focused in their life.  They had a joy that seemed to bubble over.  I knew that whatever they had, I wanted it too.  So I asked them what made them ‘tick’.  They said with a smile that their secret was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  They told me that Jesus had broken the power of death on the Cross, that he had taken my sin and guilt on Good Friday, and rose to new life on Resurrection Sunday.  They told me that I could live forever if I would turn from my self-centeredness and let Jesus become the centre of my life.

I was hungry and curious.  So I ‘opened the door of my life’ and let Jesus come in.  It felt like rivers of liquid love filling me from the inside out.  I experienced joy in a whole new way.  I felt whole and peaceful in an unexpected way.  Most importantly, I lost my fear of death.  I knew that my life had meaning and purpose because of Jesus taking my place on Good Friday 2000 years ago.  TGIF!

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

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

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

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

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

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

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

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


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The Treadmill of Life

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My wife, like many loving wives, wants her husband healthy.  She had been encouraging me to get back on the treadmill.  I enjoy walking, especially throughout the spectacular trails interwoven through our local community.  But I had a lot of prejudice towards the idea of spending time on a seemingly never-ending treadmill at the local gym.

Even though I don’t want to be controlled by my wife, I do want to be healthy.  So I took the ‘plunge’ and became a ‘convert’ regarding the benefits of Rec Centre treadmills.  As a result, I feel healthier, stronger, and more peaceful inside.  I actually look forward now to doing the very thing that I once dreaded.  Lifting weights, maybe.  Stretching, perhaps.  But working out on the treadmill, never!

Part of what changed my mind was being ‘reared ended’ by a taxi.  I started going for various treatments to loosen up my neck and shoulders, but nothing seemed to really last.  The neck spasms and headaches had a nasty habit of sapping a lot of my energy needed for work and family.  Finally Dr. Paul Wiggins, while adjusting my aching back, said to me: ‘You need a personal trainer’.  My immediate reaction was to try to graciously change the subject.  Paul however is very persistent in a kindly way, and the next thing I knew, I was meeting with a personal trainer at the local Rec Centre.  I have been involved in many sports and exercise programs over the years.  Sooner or later I usually would push it too far and too fast, and injure myself.  Once injured and ‘humbled’, I often thought twice before ‘getting back in the ring’.

Thanks to six sessions with a personal trainer, I have finally learned how to pace myself, and as a result, I have only injured myself once since getting back to the gym.  I have learnt that the secret to virtually all the gym equipment is going ‘one step at a time’.  Patience, while not my strongest characteristic, is definitely a virtue in the weight room!

Sometimes the daily routines of life like work, taking our children to school, etc, can seem like a never-ending treadmill.  Many suffer from exhaustion and feel like crying out: ‘Stop the treadmill! I want to get off.’  Those of us who work out on Rec Centre treadmills know how dangerous it can be to get off a treadmill before it actually stops.  As I was working out this morning on a Rec Centre treadmill, I sensed that perhaps there are two different treadmills in our lives: treadmills of life and treadmills of death.  Treadmills of life bring strength, encouragement and renewed hope. Treadmills of death bring weariness, discouragement, and monotony.  Many medieval treadmills were even designed as punishment for prisoners who would be given no rest.

What helps me keep going on the Rec Centre treadmill is the practice of silently lifting up names of people I care for.  Rather than worry about these people, I have been learning how to give them back to the Lord, and trust that they are safe in his hands.  Working out on the treadmill teaches me that I am not called to worry about tomorrow, but rather to just take one step at a time, one day at a time.  Even though it may feel like my time on the treadmill is endless, experience has taught me that sooner or later it comes to an end.  So too, the treadmill of life is over far more suddenly than many of us expect.  Every funeral that I attend reminds me that even the best vitamins, the best sports workout, the best vacations can only delay temporarily the inevitable day of my last step on the treadmill of planet earth.

Jesus dismantled the treadmill of death by his death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  As a result, I no longer am chained to that ‘medieval treadmill’ of decay.  I choose to take ‘one step at a time’ on the treadmill of life, life that is abundant, exciting, and eternal.  See you at God’s Gym!

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

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

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

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

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

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

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

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


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Embracing Handel’s Messiah

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hirdhandel picture

Beethoven once said: “Handel was the greatest composer that ever lived.  I would uncover my head, and kneel before his tomb.”  King George III called Handel “the Shakespeare of Music.”  George Bernard Shaw commented that “Handel is not a mere composer in England: he is an institution.  What is more, he is a sacred institution.”

In North America and England, at the very least, Handel’s Messiah has become the most popular and performed and recorded and listened to choral work.  Many people stereotype Handel’s Messiah as Christmas music, but in earlier years, Messiah performances were more likely to occur at Easter.  For Handel, the Messiah was an Easter event that told not merely of birth but also of death and resurrection.

 

George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany within a month of Johanne Sebastian Bach (1685).  Handel’s father was a barber-surgeon who hated music and wanted his son to become a successful lawyer.  His aunt Anna gave Handel a spinet harpsichord that they hid in Handel’s attic, wrapping each string with thin strips of cloth, so that Handel could play undetected.

 

handel picture 2When George was eight or nine, the Duke of Weissenfels heard him play the postlude to a church service and he summoned the boy’s father and told him he ought to encourage such talent.  His only teacher was Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow, a most learned and imaginative musician and teacher, who instilled in his young pupil a lifelong intellectual curiosity.  At age 11, Handel entered a musical contest at the Berlin court of the Elector with the famous composer Buononcini, and won.

 

When Handel moved to England in 1712, it was a beehive of musical activity with Italian opera ruling the day.  Within the next 30 year period in England, Handel wrote about 40 operas and 26 oratorios.  Handel did not play to easy audiences.  If opera attenders felt bored in Handel’s day, they would often start loud conversations, and walk around freely.  It was also a custom for them to play cards, and eat snacks right during the opera.

 

As Smith/Carlson put it, Handel “…was an inviting target for critics and for satire.  He was a foreigner, and an individual no one could help noticing.  He had large hands, large feet, a large appetite, and he wore a huge white wig with curls rippling over his shoulders.  He spoke English rather loudly in a colourful blending of Italian, German, and French.  He was temperamental, he loved freedom, and he hated restrictions which placed limits on his art…”

 

 Charles Burney, who later sang and played under him, told how Handel once raged at him when he made a mistake, “a circumstance very terrific to a young musician.”  But when Handel found that his mistake was caused by a copying error, he apologized generously (“I pec your parton – I am a very odd tog”, he said in Germanic English).

 

Handel also struggled with his weight, a problem about which critics mercilessly teased him.  His London years were up and down, and unbelievably down at times.  As Romain Rolland has tried to explain it: “He was surrounded by a crowd of bulldogs with terrible fangs, by unmusical men of letters who were likewise able to bite, by jealous colleagues, arrogant virtuosos, cannibalistic theatrical companies, fashionable cliques, feminine plots, and nationalistic leagues…Twice he was bankrupt, and once he was stricken by apoplexy amid the ruin of his company.  But he always found his feet again; he never gave in.”

 

Jesus on Cross picture The situation was so bleak in 1741 that just before he wrote the Messiah, he had seriously considered going back to Germany.  But instead of giving up, he turned more strongly to God.  Handel composed the Messiah in 24 days without once leaving his house.  During this time, his servant brought him food, and when he returned, the meal was often left uneaten.  While writing the “Hallelujah Chorus”, his servant discovered him with tears in his eyes.  He exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!!”  As Newman Flower observes, “Considering the immensity of the work, and the short time involved in putting it to paper, it will remain, perhaps forever, the greatest feat in the whole history of musical composition.”

 

At a Messiah performance in 1759, honouring his seventy-fourth birthday, Handel responded to enthusiastic applause with these words: “Not from me – but from Heaven- comes all.”  In his last years he worshipped twice every day at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, near his home.

 

The Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and immediately won huge popular success.  In order to have room enough for the people,  a request was sent afar and wide, asking, “The favour of the Ladies not to come with hoops this day to the Music Hall in Fishamble Street.  The Gentlemen are desired to come without their swords.”  This is how the Dublin Newspaper reported the event: “…The best Judges allowed it to be the most finished work of Musick.  Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded to the admiring crowded Audience.  The Sublime, the Grand, and the Tender, adapted to the most elevated, majestic, and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear…”  Handel could have made a financial killing from the Messiah, but instead he designated that all the proceeds would go to charities.

 

In contrast to the Irish, the English did not initially like the Messiah.  This oratorio, after all, had no story.  The soloists had too little to do, and the chorus too much.  It was different, and the audience wasn’t ready for it.  Jennens who wrote the script didn’t like it either.  He commented: “Handel’s Messiah has disappointed me, being set in great haste, though he said he would be a year about it, and make it the best of all his Compositions.  I shall put no more Sacred Works into his hands, thus to be abused.”

 

Twenty-five years later, Handel’s Messiah was so popular with the English that they almost rioted, while waiting to hear it at Westminster Abbey.  People screamed, as they feared being trampled.  Others fainted.  Some threatened to break down the church doors.

 

Handel’s use of biblical words in a theatre was revolutionary, and those who opposed Handel went to great extremes to keep his oratorios from being successful.  For example, certain self-righteous women gave large teas or sponsored other theatrical performances on the days when Handel’s concerts were to take place in order to rob him of an audience.  As well, his enemies hired boys to tear down the advertisements about Handel’s Messiah.  One opponent wrote to a newspaper asking “if the Playhouse is a fit Temple…or a Company of Players fit Ministers of God’s Word.”  This person saw the Messiah as “prostituting sacred things to the perverse humour of a Set of obstinate people.”

 

In contrast, the famous preacher John Wesley liked Handel’s Messiah.  He wrote: “In many parts, especially several of the choruses, it exceeded my expectation.”  One clergy William Hanbury in 1759 said that you could hardly find an eye without tears in the whole audience.

 

The King was so deeply stirred with the exultant music, that when the first Hallelujah rang through the hall, he rose to his feet and remained standing until the last note of the chorus echoed through the house.  From this began the custom of standing for the Hallelujah chorus.  When a nobleman praised Handel as to how entertaining the Messiah was, Handel replied, “My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.”

 

What is it about the Messiah that makes it so popular?  Many scholars point to the spaciousness in Handel’s music, the dramatic silences, and the stirring contrast.  Sadie commented that the music of Handel’s, is a blend of different styles: English church music (especially the choruses), the German Passion-music tradition, the Italian melodic style.  In fact, three of the choruses are arranged from Italian love-duets which Handel had written thirty years before.  Handel’s genius was in bringing new and dramatic twists to the familiar and mundane.

 

In 1759 the almost blind Handel conducted a series of 10 concerts.  After performing the Messiah, he told some friends that he had one desire –to die on Good Friday.  “I want to die on Good Friday,” he said, “in the hope of rejoining the good God, my sweet Lord and Saviour, on the day of His resurrection.”

 

On Good Friday, he bid good-bye to his friends and dies the very next day on Holy Saturday, April 14th, 1759.  Handel was fittingly buried in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.  A close friend of Handel’s, James Smyth, said: “Handel died as he lived –as a good Christian, with a true sense of his duty to God and man, and in perfect charity with all the world…”

 

My prayer is that the words and music of Handel’s Messiah may help us experience the intimacy of Handel’s relationship with His Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church, North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

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

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

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

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

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