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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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In the Midst of Christmas….

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

In the midst of multi-coloured Christmas lights on every neighbourhood street, he loves you.  In the midst of Jim Carey’s ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’, he loves you.  In the midst of red-nosed Rudolph and the Christmas elves, he loves you.  In the midst of desperate Ski Hill ‘Prayers for Snow’, he loves you.

In the midst of turkey dinners on a family night, he cares for you.  In the midst of stocked stockings hanging by a roaring fire, he cares for you.  In the midst of frost on a snowy window, he cares for  you.  In the midst of carolers singing at your doorstep, he cares for you.

In the midst of Scout Christmas tree sales, he watches over you.  In the midst of Christmas pageants and winter fests, he watches over you.  In the midst of shopping centre santas and boxing day sales, he watches over you.  In the midst of early-morning presents and sleepless children, he watches over you.

It is so easy to be cynical as Christmas rolls around.  Most of us long to get back to the real meaning of Christmas.  Most of us are tired of the endless commercialization that seems to swallow us every December.  I wonder if Jesus realized how much work and expense would spring from his being born over 2,000 years ago!  My hunch is that he never intended that his annual birthday party on December 25th should become so complicated and wearisome.  The first Christmas ‘away in a manger, no crib for a bed’ was a very simple affair indeed.  Just baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and a few animals for company.

It is impossible to think about Christmas without pictures of angels and shepherds.  Many of us fondly remember dressing up as children in such getups.  Our parents would get out their cameras and make a fuss over us in front of our relatives and neighbours.

Christmas morning was always very exciting.  Waiting for Christmas morning to finally appear seemed to take an eternity.  I remember ripping open the carefully wrapped presents with joyful abandonment.  I remember feasting on the delicious turkey dinners and hot apple pies.  I remember my grandparents gathering around the dining room table, telling curious stories about long-dead relatives.  Each Christmas I went to the 5, 10 and 25 Cent store to buy my grandparents their traditional pencils and socks.

In the midst of mistletoe, tinsel, stuffing, cards, and mince meat pies, I loved Christmas.  But I didn’t love the reason for the season.  In the midst of the world’s most fun birthday party, I forgot to invite the birthday boy.  In the midst of family and togetherness, I forgot about the love that emanates from the Christmas manger.  Jesus, despite my being raised in church, just wasn’t on my ‘radar screen’.  Somehow he didn’t belong in Christmas, despite the fact that even the name Christmas spelled his name.

My prayer this Christmas for those reading this article is that the birthday boy of Christmas will once again be welcome at his own party.

 

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/Deep Cove Crier

-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.