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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Doing Christmas on Purpose

By The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

I love Christmas Carols. Even when I feel dead to everything else about Christmas, Christmas Carols seem to wake me up from within.  Music has an amazing way to slip past even the most hardened heart.

Christmas is one of those traditions that won’t go away, and yet so often seems off kilter.  It so often seems to lack purpose and focus.  The John Grisham movie “Christmas with the Kranks” symbolizes the angst of people swallowed by Christmas-related paraphernalia.  Christmas Carols are ideal for helping us regain focus at Christmas.

Randy Stonehill poignantly sang: “I wonder if this Christmas they’ll begin to understand that the Jesus that they celebrate is much more than a man…”  The first purpose of Christmas is to bring pleasure to God, otherwise called Worship.  That is why at Christmas so many of us love to sing: “O Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord”.  For many years, Christmas to me was just about eating turkey and getting presents.  Being dragged to church on Christmas Eve or even worse Christmas morning seemed like a serious intrusion into an otherwise good festival.  As I have refocused on the real meaning of Christmas,  I hear afresh the Christmas Carol singing: “O Come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, o come ye to Bethehem”.

Year after year, Christmas miraculously brings friends and families back together.  When I was younger, I enjoyed spending Christmas with my grandparents and family, but didn’t fully realize what a wonderful gift this was.  The second purpose of Christmas, I have discovered, is fellowship.  At the heart of lasting fellowship is great food, lots of fun, and deep listening.  God put us here on earth to learn how to love each other.  Christmas is a great time to do that.  Christmas is a time when like shepherds summoned to his cradle, we leave our flocks and then flock together.

I never realized when I was young that Christmas was meant to transform me.  Years later I discovered that all that joy at Christmas had a third purpose: to make me more like Christ, which is Discipleship.  As that great Christmas Carol puts it, “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice! Now you need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!”  There is a joy released at Christmas that can radically transform anyone’s life if we will let it.  That is why the Good Book says that the Joy of the Lord is our strength.

Christmas for me as a young person was about getting bigger and better presents.  Years later I have discovered that Christmas is really about giving.  Giving is not just about presents, but mostly about our hearts.  The fourth purpose of Christmas is about serving others, especially the poor.  Good old Scrooge learnt this lesson the hard way at Christmas.  As Good King Wenceslas put it, “Therefore Christian men be sure, wealth and rank possessing, ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”  We may not like the three wise men have gold, frankincense, and myrrh to give, but when we give from our heart, Christmas becomes real to another hurting person.

When I was younger, I thought that Christmas was about me.  In fact, I have discovered that Christmas is about others.  That is why the fifth purpose of Christmas is “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born”.  Christmas is too good to keep it to ourselves.  Christmas is the kind of fun and laughter and joy that everyone needs more of.  Do you know anyone who needs cheering up?  Do you know anyone who has lost direction?  If you do, I encourage you to reach out and bring others this Christmas to a joyful Christmas Eve service near you.

 

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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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