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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations at Easter

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Do you have great expectations for Easter? I have always loved Easter, particularly our Easter family turkey dinners. My earliest childhood Easter memories are of bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing. Easter can be a time of reconnecting and celebrating, a time of healing and new life.  In Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, as the hero Sydney Carton takes his friend Darnay’s place on the guillotine, he repeats Jesus’ Easter words: “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in me, shall never die”.[1]  Most of us, because of the unforgettable Christmas Carol book, associate Dickens more with Christmas than Easter.[2]  Yet Dickens had great expectations not just of Christmas but also of Easter.  Dickens was a true Easter person.  In most of Dickens’ novels, there are Easter moments of unexpected hope, transformation and breakthrough. Dickens rarely leaves us stuck in despair. The Easter moment in Oliver Twist was Oliver being welcomed into the kindly Brownlow family.[3]

In Dickens’ book Hard Times, life without mystery, creativity, and the supernatural is portrayed as barren, meaningless, and empty. In contrast to Easter, the materialistic philosophy in Hard Times taught that everything could be reduced to utilitarian facts and monetary gain: “Now, what I want is facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts.  Facts alone are wanted in life.  Plant nothing else, and root out everything else…”[4]  Even heaven, said the teacher Thomas Gradgrind, could only be entered through earning one’s own salvation: “Every inch of the existence of mankind, from birth to death, was to be a bargain across a counter.  And if we didn’t get to heaven that way, it was not a politic-economical place, and we had no business there.”[5] Other people to Gradgrind were little more than depersonalized machines only to be valued as they served the industrial complex. Gradgrind was like an Easter Scrooge, saying ‘bah humbug’ to anyone with great expectations.  But no matter how hard he tried, Gradgrind could not crush the Easter imagination, expectations, and compassion seen in Sissy.[6]  Only when Gradgrind’s daughter Louisa emotionally collapsed did Gradgrind finally realize that life is more than just bare cold facts, saying “The ground on which I stand has ceased to be solid under my feet.”[7] Through his Easter moment, Gradgrind began “making his facts and figures subservient to Faith, Hope and Charity, no longer trying to grind that heavenly trio in his dusty little mills.”[8]  Even Scrooges and Gradgrinds can discover great expectations.

In The Life of our Lord, Dickens’ least-known book, he shared with his ten children the deep faith that he had not only in Christmas, but also in Easter.  Easter for Dickens was about great expectations, about Jesus’ resurrection love: “No one ever loved all people so well and so truly as He did.”[9]  To Dickens, Jesus “was always merciful and tender. And because he did such good, and taught people how to love God and how to hope to go to heaven after death, he was called our Saviour.”[10] Dickens explained that the Saviour would teach men to love one another, and not to quarrel and hurt one another; and his name will be called Jesus Christ.[11]  Dickens believed in the Easter resurrection of Jesus, saying “as he is now in heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, you can never think what a good place heaven is without knowing who he was and what he did.”[12] In The Life of our Lord, Dickens recorded five accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances after his crucifixion, commenting that the resurrected Jesus “was seen by five hundred of his followers at once, and He remained with others of them forty days.”[13]

Charles Dickens had great expectations at Easter, because he looked past the Easter baskets, bonnets, and bunnies to the very heart of Easter: Jesus’ death and resurrection. As an Easter person, Dickens wanted his children to know because Christ is risen indeed, there is always a way forward, even in hard times. My prayer for those reading this article is that this Easter would be a time of great expectations, great breakthroughs, and great hope.

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

-an article 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.  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 

[1] Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities, 3.9.89.  Right before his guillotining, Carton memorably said: “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.” (3.15.46)

[2] Charles Dickens, Christmas Carol, http://www.stormfax.com/1dickens.htm

[3] Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, https://books.google.ca/books?isbn=1904232469 , 40, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/730

[4] Charles Dickens, Hard Times, (Pocket Books, Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2007, New York, NY),  9.

[5] Hard Times, 376.

[6] Hard Times, 410.

[7] Hard Times, Third Book, One Thing Needful, Chapter 1, p. 2.

[8] Hard Times, Chapter IX, https://books.google.ca/books?isbn=1136413251http://www.victorianlondon.org/etexts/dickens/hard_times-0037.shtml

[9] Charles Dickens, The Life of Our Lord, http://www.chucknorris.com/Christian/Christian/ebooks/dickens_life.pdf

[10] The Life of Our Lord, 8.

[11] The Life of Our Lord, 14.

[12] The Life of Our Lord, 3.

[13] The Life of Our Lord, 31.


1 Comment

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