Saturday, October 13, 2007

More Blessed to Give
More Blessed to Give
By Rev. Ed Hird+
-an article for the Nov 2007 Deep Cove Crier

For more than fifty years, I have worn a poppy each November 11th. On Remembrance Day, we give thanks for those who have given generously of their time and even their lives so that we might live in freedom. It is so easy to take freedom and security for granted. Two of my great-uncles Charlie and Harry both went off to war in World War One and never came back.

On November 19th, 1917 a caring chaplain wrote my Nana the following note: "Dear Miss Williams, I dare say you have heard the sad news of the death of your brother Private H.C.W. Williams who was killed in action on the morning of November 6th. He did not suffer as death was instantaneous."

"No doubt you will feel the loss of your dear brother very much as it is hard to part with those we love; but it is a consolation to know he did his duty faithfully and died in a righteous cause. He gave his life for others. And ‘greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’"

"I pray that God will comfort you in your sad bereavement and may you find his grace sufficient in your hour of need. Cast your cares on the Lord and he shall sustain you. With Deepest Sympathy, Yours sincerely, Alex Ketterson Chaplain 29th Canadians, B.E.F."

My Nana had a deep faith that sustained her in the worst of times. Her faith also inspired her to be a giver rather than a taker. She knew well the Great Physician’s teaching that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Nana loved to give to others of her time, talent and treasure. One of her most precious gifts to me was a book called “Why You Say It”, which explains the fascinating stories behind over 700 everyday words and phrases. I reluctantly thanked my Nana at the time, secretly wishing that she gave me a toy instead. Years later all my toys are gone, and that book is one of my precious gifts from my childhood.

The Good Book tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. The term ‘cheerful’ in the Greek is the word ‘hilaron’, from which we get the word ‘hilarious’. Part of Canada’s Judeo-Christian heritage is a valuing of generosity. It is so important that when we give to others, we do it cheerfully, not grudgingly like the infamous Mr. Scrooge.

A good example of cheerful giving in the Seymour/Deep Cove area is the Lions Club with the wonderful housing complexes that they have developed. As Canadians, we need to keep growing in our generosity to others in need. Recent studies by the Fraser Institute found that charitable giving as a percentage of aggregate income in the United States is double the giving in Canada (1.67 per cent vs. 0.72 per cent).

The Bible tells us that God has a real heart for widows, orphans, strangers, and the poor. My challenge to each of us this Remembrance Day is for us to look for ways in which we can show our gratitude for the sacrifices made by others. The gift of democracy does not come cheap. If we are really grateful for the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful countries on planet earth, how might we say thanks?

The Rev. Ed Hird+
Rector, St. Simon’s North Vancouver, BC
Anglican Coalition in Canada

Monday, October 8, 2007

Down in the Mouth in Deep Cove
Down in the Mouth in Deep Cove
-an article for the March 2007 Deep Cove Crier

For the past nineteen years so far, I have been a monthly columnist in the Deep Cove Crier. I am always praying about some topic that people can really get their teeth into. Sitting in a Deep Cove dental chair gave me time to reflect on my next article. As the dental hygienist was scraping and pulling and prodding, I began to reflect on the significance and priority of our teeth. Teeth are unforgiving. You either look after them carefully, or they strike back in all kinds of unpleasant ways. Just talk to your friends who have had a failed root-canal operation. Even in these days of hi-tech painkillers, toothaches still ache.

I have been literally sitting in Deep Cove dental chairs for twenty years. Every six months or so, I receive the obligatory call from Dr. Gvoyai’s dental office. I thank God for a good dental plan! Dr. Gvoyai, due to health issues, has recently sold her practice to Dr. Harman Mangat at the Seycove Dental office. We will miss Dr. Gvoyai and give thanks to God for her friendliness and professionalism. I offer a belated welcome to the Cove, Dr. Mangat. Dr. Mangat told me that one of the things that attracted him to relocate to the Cove is that ‘village’ sense that still exists in our community.

The term ‘down in the mouth’ means to be low in spirits, downcast, or depressed. A number of North Shore residents report feeling more depressed this time of year because of all the rain. There is a perception out there that dentists suffer more from depression and even suicide. In chatting with my new dentist Dr. Mangat, he told me that the higher dental suicide issue is likely a myth. Roger E. Alexander, D.D.S., of the Baylor College of Dentistry, recently examined this stereotype. Alexander found data suggesting that female dentists may be more vulnerable to suicide, but unearthed no evidence that dentists take their own lives with greater frequency than the general population. "What we know about suicide in dentistry is based on weak data from the early 1970s, involving mostly white males" says Alexander, who called for additional research in the Journal of the American Dental Association. My sense is that there is a lot of pressure on dentists as they not only have to be technically competent, but also very skilled at running small businesses.

For the last fifty-two years of my life, I have been fighting the good fight, dentally speaking. My parents spent thousands of dollars on dental surgery and braces for me. I remember when a bully at Oak Park knocked me off my Pugeot bike and proceeded to stomp on my head with his boots. Having no idea what he was upset about, I naively said: “Can we talk about this?” When he grunted “no”, I realized that I was in serious trouble. I was about to either lose face emotionally or lose face literally, which would mean that my multi-thousand dollar smile was about to disappear. Being more afraid of my parent’s wrath over my braces than of the bully, I jumped on my Pugeot and rode off. This was one of the wisest dental decisions that I ever made, especially as I heard later that this bully later had his teeth kicked in and a broken beer bottle twisted in his face.

As a teenager, I felt very embarrassed by my braces, and later by my retainer which made it hard to communicate. My math teacher in Grade 10 actually thought that I was swearing at her when I was only answering a math question while wearing my retainer. She was not pleased! You may have notice that teenage peers can be ruthless in their affectionate terms for those who are dentally-challenged: brace face, metal mouth, tinsel teeth, etc. But three decades late, I am so grateful for the investment my parents made in me. Dentures just don’t compare to one’s own genuine teeth.

I used to hate flossing. Gradually I began to grudgingly admit the need. My thought of a helpful compromise was to only floss on the day that I went to the dentist. As I sat in the dentist’s office with bleeding gums, my compromise somehow did not impress them. I am now a passionate flosser who tries to convert other people to the ‘redemptive’ benefits of removing plaque. It occurred to me recently that many people view flossing and going to the dentist similarly to the idea of attending church. They may acknowledge that it might be good for them, but it is certainly not something to which they are looking forward. There are too many painful memories or alternately fear of the unknown. Many young people nowadays, unlike the baby-boomers or seniors, have never been to a church service once in their life.

Dentists want to make a difference in other people. Many are inspired by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” There is spirituality to dentistry that potentially involves the whole person, body, mind and spirit. Dr. Alex Yule is a retired dentist at St. Simon’s North Vancouver whom embodies this ‘Good Samaritan’ spirit. In co-operation with the Christian Medical & Dental Society, Dr. Yule has set up a free Dental clinic on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver for people who are falling through the cracks. Hundreds of people are now being set free from chronic dental pain. What motivates Dr. Yule? His love for Jesus Christ and for his neighbour. My prayer is that we may all show that same love to each other so that none of us will remain down in the mouth.

The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC
Anglican Coalition in Canada

Transforming a Woman's Soul
Transforming a Woman’s Soul
By the Rev. Ed Hird+
-an article for the October 2007 Deep Cove Crier

Many of us, whether women or men, fail to remember that we are made in God’s image. God does not make any junk. He makes all things beautiful in His time. God is beautiful. God is the author of all beauty and all creativity. The Psalms tell us that we worship to behold God’s beauty. That is why we are repeatedly encouraged in the Good Book to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,

On a recent visit, I was shown a fascinating book by Heidi McLaughlin entitled “Beauty Unleashed: Transforming a Woman’s Soul”. For the past 19 years, Heidi McLaughlin has been teaching women how to heal their brokenness and unleash their full potential and beauty by connecting with God. Her passion is to help women walk in the knowledge that they are one of God’s most glorious creations.

Heidi says that ‘there is nothing more beautiful than a woman who knows that she is loved. She is the one who glows with energy when she walks into a room.’ ‘Every human being’, Heidi writes, ‘on this planet yearns to be loved. Everyone looks for something real and tangible: unconditional love.’

We can choose to be either part of the problem or part of the solution. As Heidi puts it, ‘wherever we are, our love can melt the hardest heart, heal wounded hearts, show compassion, or quiet an anxious or fearful heart.’ Love is the most powerful force in the universe. The heart of Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross was love. As we love hurting people, we help them discover that there is hope and a future.

Heidi teaches that ‘to unleash our greatest beauty, we must let go of expectations.’ This is the heart of the well-known phrase ‘Let go and let God’. So often we cripple ourselves with our hidden demands of how life should be going. Surrendering our hopes, dreams and fears to God will take a heavy load off our shoulders that was never meant to be there. We are called to cast our cares on Him, for he cares for us. That is why the Great Physician said: “Come to you, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light, and you will find rest for your souls.’

God is offering a beauty rest that will transform your soul. As Heidi puts it, ‘I believe that there is nothing God wants to do more than to shower us with his life.’ God sees your beauty and calls it forth. Will you say yes to His beautiful love?

The Rev. Ed Hird+
Rector, St. Simon’s North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada