Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bishop Doc Loomis and Titus, Giant-Killers on their Way to Corinth

By the Rev. Ed Hird

“Bishop Doc Loomis and Titus, Giant-Killers on their way to Corinth” (2 Corinthians 8 & 9)

Some of you will not be aware that Bishop Doc Loomis began his ministry in a small rural church where the roof was seriously leaking for many months. One Sunday Doc became so frustrated by the lack of progress that he announced to the congregation that the communion service would not begin until the leaking roof issue was dealt with. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, half an hour passed until finally the resident tightwad at the back of the church spoke up and said: “Let’s get the service started. I’ll give fifty dollars.’ At that exact moment, a huge chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling and hit him on the head. Pulling himself up from under the pew, he said in a weak voice: “I meant to say five hundred dollars”. Doc Loomis quickly spoke out: “Hit him again, Lord!” What I will be sharing today is probably already familiar to you, but sometimes God needs to hit us again with familiar truth.

I was welcomed as the Rector of St. Simon’s NV almost 21 years ago. Upon my being hired, one of the wardens/elders told me that we are $10,000 behind from last year and if things don’t turn around by June, they wouldn’t be able to pay your salary. “No problem”, I said, “God pays for what he orders.” They felt better; I felt worse.

I met with our St. Simon’s NV Church Council and just studied one biblical stewardship passage at each meeting. After a few months, one of the Church Council members said: “This is all very nice, Reverend, but when are we going to do something?” It seemed to me that we were doing something by educating our leaders first.

I had told our ACW ladies group that they could no longer save the church with their garage sales. Rather they needed to give the money away to missions and outreach, an idea that rather caught on. Finally in June of that first year, I preached on the lectionary passage talking about tithing our first 10% and sacrificial giving above 10%. Some of our long-timers hit the roof. A medical specialist heard about the situation and began tithing that next Sunday. This action broke a log jam and released a flood of biblical generosity from which we have never looked back.

Every year at St. Simon’s NV we have an annual Stewardship education time where we teach from the bible on biblical stewardship of our time, time and treasure, and where lay people share for two to three minutes why they tithe. During the Stewardship Education time this fall, I felt led to read 50 books on biblical stewardship from Regent College.

Our stewardship focus always wraps up with an annual pledge Sunday where people bring in their pledge cards for the coming year. This November we celebrated our 22nd annual Pledge Sunday. Around Pledge Sunday 2008, Peter and Elsbeth Turner did a remarkable skit on 2 Corinthians 9.

Some of you know that I am writing my third book. I have 120,000 words written so far on my sequel to ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’ which was about Timothy. This third book is about Titus, a remarkable paratrooper who Paul planted smack in the midst of Crete, which had been a pirate island for 800 years before Christ. Paul quoted Crete’s famous 6th century philosopher Epimendes said ‘All Cretans are liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’ Paul fully agreed. Paul’s challenge to Titus was to raise up godly healthy churches in every town in Crete, drawing on reformed ex-pirates who had given their lives to Jesus. That sounds like the challenge we are facing as the Anglican Coalition in Canada and in our new Province, the Anglican Church in North America, reaching out to a post-modern pirate culture.

Paul in vs. 1 of 2nd Corinthians 9 ironically says that there is no need to talk to them about financial stewardship, which he calls ‘service to the saints’. Then Paul proceeds to talk for another chapter, on top of Chapter 8 which was also about financial stewardship. The heart of his message is that ‘you better not shout, you better not cry, you better not pout, Titus is coming to town.’ Whenever money is mentioned in many Anglican Churches, shouting, crying and pouting often happens. Titus was coming to Corinth to receive a significant offering for the suffering Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.

Why did Paul send Titus to the Corinthians, or for that matter Doc Loomis recently to White Rock? 2 Corinthians 8:6 tells us that Titus was sent to bring a healthy conclusion to a good beginning. “So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.”

The Corinthians were known for their generosity, just like the Macedonians who had given very generously out of their most severe trial, overflowing joy and extreme poverty (8:1). Paul wanted the Corinthians to be like the Macedonians who didn’t just talk the talk; they walked the walk financially. Paul wanted the Corinthians, just like they excelled in the charismatic gifts of faith, speech, knowledge, complete earnestness, and love for them, to also excel in this grace or charismatic gift of giving (8:7).

So Paul sent Titus along to help the Corinthians be the cheerful givers that they wanted to be. Paul described Titus in 8:17 as a first century Doc Loomis. Titus was enthusiastic, welcoming and showed initiative. 8:22 says that Titus was zealous, dedicated, diligent. That is Doc to a ‘T’. Both Doc and Titus were born to be giant-killers.

Timothy on the other hand was much more hesitant and shy, and had to be coaxed into his significant leadership by Paul. That is why Paul said to the Corinthians in Chapter 16:10-11 “If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should refuse to accept him.” Timothy could be easily thrown off by criticism and negativity. Titus plodded in where angels fear to tread.

Paul also chose Titus because Titus could be trusted financially. Someone said that there are three key temptations by which Satan tries to destroy leaders of church: ‘gold, girls, and glory’ or ‘sex, money, and power.’ On the North Shore, the treasurer of a local church ran off with $70,000 of the church’s funds. It rather put a damper on the party. That is why Paul said about Titus that ‘they were taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of people.” (8:21)

Paul in Chapter 9:2 commented about the Corinthian eagerness to help, which he had been telling the Macedonians about. The Corinthians were famous for their eagerness to give. “Your enthusiasm (zelos/zeal)”, said Paul, “has stirred most of them into action.” A passion for tithing and biblical stewardship is contagious. I have found that when clergy and church council tithe their first 10% and give sacrificially over and above, it sets a tone for the rest of the local congregation. I remember many years ago where a rector told me that he believed in tithing 10% but wouldn’t give it to his own congregation, because he didn’t think that they spent it well. My sense is that biblical tithing is its own reward, even if they just went out and burnt the money after collecting it. I suggested to the Rector that if I couldn’t trust my congregation (which is the storehouse) with the tithe, then I would need to leave and find another congregation. But I will never agree to robbing God, as the Malachi 3:10 describes withholding the tithe.

I must admit that I actually robbed God for over eight years after becoming a Christian in 1972. I gave generously by Anglican standards and believed in tithing but was waiting until I felt financially secure enough to tithe. When I lost my voice in Dec 1980, I read Dr Peter Wagner’s book “Your Spiritual Gifts can help your Church Grow’ where he challenged people to tithe, saying that God would meet one’s needs. As I had no income at the time, I figured that 10% of nothing was doable. God met my family’s needs for the next 12 months, while I had a throat operation and then was able to go to St Matthew’s Abbotsford as an assistant priest exactly 12 months after I had stepped down from St. Phillips Dunbar. Because God met my needs while I was out of work and couldn’t speak, I figured that I couldn’t stop tithing now that I once had a real job and income. You may have noticed that I am passionate about tithing. In fact it is the only area in the bible where God says that we can put God to the test and see if he will not open the floodgates of heaven. Everywhere else it is forbidden.

So why did God send Titus to this congregation that was already famous for generosity? Because he wanted them to finish well. Talk is cheap. Walking the walk is costly. It is very easy in our west coast culture to start something new, to be generous for a short period. The challenge is to hang in when things get more challenging, when people offend you, when your hopes are disappointed. Titus according to 2nd Cor 9:3-5 was sent to help the Corinthians keep their financial promises. Our last four St. Simon’s NV services, including two on Dec 28th and two at Christmas, have been cancelled because of treacherous snow conditions on the North Shore. Why, you may ask, am I not worried about the financial hit that we may take? Because St. Simon’s NV people are generous tithers and sacrificial givers, who regularly can be counted upon to keep up with their yearly pledges. Not even snow and cancelled services keeps St. Simon’s NV people from being financially faithful.

St. Simon’s NV people realize that if they sow sparingly, they will reap sparingly (9:6). For the past twenty-two years, I have watched them sow generously and reap generously. I have seen God make all grace abound at St. Simon’s NV so that having all they need, they have been able to abound in every good work. (9:10)

St. Simon’s NV used to be a mission congregation for many years, which meant it didn’t pay its own way, and was almost closed several times by higher authorities. When St. Simon’s NV started tithing, it also began supporting missionaries around the world and locally. God has made the people of St. Simon’s NV rich in every way so that they could be generous on every occasion, resulting in thanksgiving to God. (9:11).

When we were thrown out of our buildings after joining up with Rwanda, God provided many financial miracles. We had a lot of startup costs in a new setting, and were in Dec 2005 down to five hundred dollars in the bank. There was a lot of pressure from a few to drop our missionaries in order to balance the budget. But God spoke to me through people like Bishops Doc Loomis and Chuck Murphy at the Anglican Mission conference. I determined that I would not sacrifice our missionaries on the altar of meeting our budget. So we kept giving to our missionaries, and God miraculously came through.

Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:12 that generous giving will not only meet the needs of God’s people (how many of you think that it is a good idea for your Rector and family to have food on their table and a roof over their heads?), but it will cause overflow of thanksgiving to God. Generosity comes from thanksgiving and releases more thanksgiving. By your generosity, others will praise God for your financial obedience and your liberal sharing (haploteti) with others. It is worth noting that the only time that the bible encourages us to be liberal as Christians is financially, not doctrinally or morally.

Each year before our annual Pledge Sunday, we have a twenty-four hour Stewardship Prayer Vigil organized by Elsbeth Turner, who is also organizing our 22nd Annual Renewal Mission on March 20th-22nd with Doc Loomis and William Beasley. This November we had 52 people commit to praying for an hour, the largest response in our St. Simon’s NV history. Prayer and financial stewardship are inseparably linked (2 Cor 9:14). It is vital that we never ask anyone to do anything important that you don’t ask them to first pray about, whether it is time, talent or treasure. As we seek the Lord in prayer about what we need to give, God will speak to us and soften our hearts.

2 Cor 9:7 says that each person should give what he has determined in his heart to give. The heart is the heart of the matter. The key words are: “Not RELUCTANTLY or UNDER COMPULSION”. God loves a cheerful giver. Biblical stewardship says no to arm-twisting, motivating through panic appeals or guilt.

Canon Doc Loomis has been such a blessing to All Saints Community Church a few weeks ago, challenging people to give it all to Jesus. That is one of Doc’s favourite themes. As a young preacher, Doc was preaching a three point sermon. The first point was ‘give it all to Jesus’. While Doc was passionately preaching, a woman jumped up and said “I’ll give it all to Jesus. My hat for Jesus” as she threw her hat up by the pulpit and sat down. Doc’s second point was ‘give it all to Jesus’. Once again the woman jumped up and said ‘I’ll give it all to Jesus’, throwing her coat up by the front pew before sitting down. Doc’s third point was ‘give it all to Jesus’. Suddenly the same woman jumped up again, but Doc was quick on his feet, saying “Madam, your purse next”. She said down and said to the man next to her: “Doc quenched the Spirit”. It is funny how many people think that you have quenched the Spirit when you mention finances.

Let me tell you clearly. All Saints Community Church does not need your money. God is quite capable of looking after All Saints without you. But God does love a cheerful, hilarious giver. God is inviting you to be generous at All Saints so that you can grow spiritually and become more Christ like. How many of you would like to decide today to be a generous giver? How many of you want to be a generous cheerful giver? How many of you are willing today to trust God with a tithe in the coming year 2009? Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Canon Doc Loomis, Giant Killer

White Rock, BC- In the midst of one of 'tropical' BC's worst snowstorms with up to 30 centimetres of non-stop snow, Canon Doc Loomis visited from Ohio. The heavy snowfall forced airflight delays and cancellations, snarled traffic, and knocked out electricity and heat throughout the Lower Mainland. But nothing could stop Canon Doc Loomis the Giant Killer.

Greater Vancouver, the home of the coming 2010 Olympics, is the 'deep south' of Canada with the most temperate climate in the 'Great White North' of Canada. When Prairiites, Ontarians, and Quebecers are digging out from the latest snowfall, BC residents love to remind them about our BC daffodils appearing as early as February. Easterners occasionally dismiss BC as 'lotus land', the home of 'fruits and nuts'. Birthed in 1858 by San Francisco goldminers coming north, BC is 'California North', Canada's 'wacky west coast'. Because we have it so good in beautiful BC, a heavy snowfall (ie business as usual in the rest of Canada) can throw us into a blind panic. But not even blind panic could stop Doc the Giant Killer.

In the midst of TV and newspaper interviews, Doc visited the strategic Surrey Pastors Network which is fuelling the Hope Vancouver initiative to welcome the world to Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics. Surrey pastors are tougher than the rest of us, with 30 of them unexpectedly fighting their way through a blizzard to Cedar Grove Baptist, a burgeoning church led by Pastor Kevin Kavanaugh.

Doc's dynamic presentation left no one sleeping. He shared of a vision that God gave him from Luke Chapter 5 that 'this is a time for nets and for net-working'. Without Christians working together, the harvest of new believers in our very secularized culture will be lost. Doc's key life verse is Luke 5:6-7 "they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink." Doc's heart cry to other christians is 'come and help us bring in the fish'.

Born in Ohio, Doc's whole life has revolved around fishing and lakes. Twice he has been rescued by God from drowning. When Doc starts talking about fishing, his eyes light up. Doc describes the Anglican/Episcopal Church throughout Canada and the USA as 'a dead fish'. He shared with us a rather unpleasant vision he received of a huge dead fish from which vomit was coming forth. In the midst of the vomit was coming new life. Doc sensed that this vision is a metaphor for the new life that God is birthing in the midst of the North American Anglican/Episcopal meltdown. What, asked Doc, is this new movement with the Anglican Mission in the Americas/ACiC and the new Province of the Anglican Church in North America? We, said Doc, are Kingdom vomit; new life coming out of death; a faithful remnant in an age of faithlessness even in the church.
So much looks like death and decline for the North American Church, said Doc, but 'just below the surface of the water is the harvest of fish'. Doc encouraged the 30 pastors representing many different denominations to join together in mission outreach: 'many hands, one net for the sake of the harvest.'

After the Surrey Pastors' presentation, another five hours of nonstop snow continued to blanket Greater Vancouver. But the hardy new All Saints Community Church in White Rock BC still braved the storm that night to come out to hear Doc in person. The entire night was a challenge to invest one's life and resources in eternity. The Rev Peter Klenner, Rector/Senior Priest of All Saints, commented that night: "there are only two things that last for ever: the souls of people and the Word of God, the Bible. When we invest in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, we are investing in eternity."

Doc Loomis, in speaking to All Saints, said that revival will come but first will come persecution, particularly to our children and grandchildren. We are living in a North American culture that is becoming less and less tolerant towards Judeo-christian values. Doc predicted that even the jobs of our children and grandchildren will be put at risk down the road if they stand by their christian convictions.

"God has done an amazing thing", said Doc. "He has brought the gospel back to North America" This has been done throughout the generous mission outreach of our African and South American brothers and sisters, especially in Rwanda. 150 years ago, said Doc, we shared the gospel with Africa, and now they are returning the favour.

Doc used the metaphor of a kidney dialysis machine to describe how God is cleansing the toxicity from the North American Anglican Church. "This is a hard gospel." Doc spoke of when he was commissioned by the Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini as a Canon Missioner to go around North America and 'stir the pot.' While being given a Red Stole, Doc Loomis was asked by Archbishop Kolini: "Do you know why this stole is red...This stole is red because it has been dipped in the blood of the martyrs." In realizing the tremendous persecution that faithful Rwandans have experienced, Doc realized that we too need to show such faithfulness in North America. "Will you come and stand in the blood of the martyrs?", he asked us. "Today I would be willing to die for Jesus Christ, for you, for the Church. Jesus is saying: "Will you give me your life?" The Good News that we have received, said Doc, is worth dying for and worth living for.

If you missed hearing Doc Loomis in the midst of this 'tropical' BC blizzard, the good news is that Doc will be returning in just three months to Greater Vancouver. Along with his co-labourer, the Rev William Beasley the AMiA Network Leader in Chicago, Doc Loomis will be leading our 22nd Annual Renewal Mission on March 20th-22nd 2009. The location for the Friday evening and Saturday will be Lions Gate Christian Academy, 420 Seymour River Place, in North Vancouver, by the 2nd Narrows Bridge. The theme, appropriately enough, will be Luke 5: 'Catching Fish in the 21st Century'. You are encouraged to mark these dates down today in your day-timer and guard them religiously! You will not want to miss Doc Loomis and William Beasley, God's Giant Killers.

On the Sunday night of March 22nd, Doc Loomis+ and William Beasley+ will be speaking at a 6:30pm Interdenominational Celebration Service at Harvest City Church in Vancouver. This event is co-sponsored by the Anglican Coalition in Canada, and is open to Christians and seekers from all backgrounds. Please keep this upcoming time in your prayers, as many believe that God will use this moment to help us prepare spiritually for the coming Harvest during the 2010 Olympics. As Jesus said in Matthew 9:37-38:"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

The Reverend Ed Hird+
ACiC Communications Director

Monday, October 13, 2008

Walking the Line with Johnny Cash

By Rev Ed Hird+

-an article for the November 2008 Deep Cove Crier

During Johnny Cash’s nearly fifty years of music, he sold over ninety million albums. He learned to sing while picking cotton as an impoverished sharecropper’s son in Kingsland, Arkansas. Cash recorded more than 1,500 songs including well-known hits like ‘A Boy named Sue’, ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘Ring of Fire.’ Johnny Cash is the only musician who has ever been threefold-inducted into the Songwriter’s, Country Music, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.”

More than 100 other recording artists and groups have recorded Cash’s song "I Walk the Line." Cash commented: “I wrote ‘I walk the Line’ when I was on the road in Texas in 1956, having a hard time resisting the temptation to be unfaithful to my wife back in Memphis”: ‘I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. I keep my eyes wide open all the time. I keep the ends out for the tie that binds. Because you’re mine, I walk the line.’

Cash’s life was often fraught with tragedy and heartbreak. “After my 14-year-old brother Jack’s death, said Johnny, “I felt like I’d died, too. I just didn’t feel alive. I was terribly lonely without him. I had no other friend.” Like his father before him, Johnny struggled for many years with addiction issues. His father was never able to tell his children that he loved them. Johnny Cash’s first marriage ran aground in the midst of workaholism and pill-popping. In Cash’ autobiography, he comments: “Touring and drugs were what I did, with the effort involved in drugs mounting steadily as time went by.” Amphetamines keep him going without sleep, and barbiturates and alcohol knocked him out. Cash comments: “I was in and out of jails, hospitals, and car wrecks. I was a walking vision of death, and that’s exactly how I felt. I was scraping the filthy bottom of the barrel of life.”

He knew that he had wasted his life and drifted far from God. In desperation, Cash decided to end his life in 1967 by crawling deep into the inner recesses of Nickajack Cave on the Tennessee River. There in pitch darkness he met God and then miraculously was able to crawl to the opening of the cave. There waiting for him was his future wife June Carter and his mother. That was Cash’s turning point in getting serious about battling his addiction. Cash stayed free of drugs until attacked in 1981 by an ostrich that ripped his stomach open and broke several ribs. While in hospital, he became re-addicted to painkillers. In 1983, his family and friends did an intervention, which included Cash’s going to the Betty Ford Clinic. Cash comments: “I’m still absolutely convinced that the intervention was the hand of God working in my life, telling me that I still had a long way to go, a lot left to do. But first I had to humble myself before God.”

In the midst of great trauma, Cash found that spiritual music helped bring him back from the despair of his addictions. “Wherever I go, I can start singing one of them and immediately begin to feel peace settle over me as God’s grace flows in. They’re powerful, those songs. At times they’ve been my only way back, the only door out of the dark, bad places the black dog calls home.” Cash began to find great strength in reading the bible and in prayer. He learned to stop hating himself, and to forgive himself and others.

During this time, Billy Graham became a personal friend and mentor. Billy Graham “was interested, but never judgmental...I’ve always been able to share my secrets and problems with Billy, and I’ve benefited greatly from his support and advice. He’s never pressed me when I’ve been in trouble; he’s waited for me to reveal myself, and then he’s helped me as much as he can.”

I thank God for the late Johnny Cash’s recovery from serious addiction, and pray that all of us will have the courage to change the things that can be changed.

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

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Golfing with My Undertaker

By Rev Ed Hird+
-an article published in the October 2008 Deep Cove Crier

Golf is now over 500 years old, having been played officially throughout Scotland since 1502. Most of the earliest references to golf were about attempts to ban it or to condemn the golfers. On 6th March 1457 in Edinburgh, King James II banned ‘ye golf’ because it was more popular than archery.

As a teenager, I golfed religiously three times a week at Langara Golf Course in Vancouver. To prove my dedication, I even sometimes golfed in the snow. I also used to caddy for my father, which was a great way to spend quality time with him.

Years later, my golf game has its moments of glory, as well as many reminders of how far I have fallen. I recently took part in a golfing tournament with forty undertakers and one hundred and ten clergy. On the second hole of the tournament, I sunk a forty-five-foot putt. Delusions of being the next Tiger Woods filled my mind until I missed a four-foot putt on the very next hole. Golf can be very humbling, and is therefore good for the soul, or so they tell me.

In the twenty-eight years since I was ordained, I have taken many funerals. Virtually every funeral involves a funeral director, sometimes called a family services counselor. I have found them to be very personal, decent individuals. It was not until I started golfing with funeral directors that I really came to know them personally. Over the eighteen holes, the pastors and undertakers shared the inevitable victories and defeats. It really helped us realize how much we had in common, though the funeral directors are usually better golfers.

Both funeral directors and clergy are usually called upon in times of sorrow and death. While some people try to do their own services, most Canadians still look to professionals to help them through this most difficult of times. Both pastors and undertakers are often misunderstood. People sometimes don’t realize that undertakers and clergy are ordinary human beings much like themselves. I remember once when a Deep Cove resident was shocked to see me shopping at Safeway, because they didn’t think that clergy actually shopped.

One of the privileges of serving for twenty-one years has been to walk with North Shore families and individuals through the key transitions of life: birth, marriage, and death. With one local family, I had the privilege of burying four members. Families during funerals will open up and share their hearts in ways that you rarely otherwise see.

Death is the great leveler. No matter how we try to avoid it and deny it, death catches up with every family. We can put it off for a while through healthy eating and exercising, but sooner or later we all face the grim reaper.

Both funeral directors and clergy can make a big difference in helping families navigate these painful waters. I am grateful that I can remind grieving people that there is a bridge over troubled waters, that Jesus made a way and prepared a resting place for them. I am grateful that death does not have the final say. My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us will find that bridge over troubled waters.

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

John A Macdonald: Nation-Builder

John A Macdonald: Nation-Builder
By the Rev Ed Hird+

Every time I spend ten dollars, I come face-to-face with Sir John A Macdonald, our first Prime Minister. As “the most famous of all Canadian leaders”, Sir John A. was a nation-builder, a man with many flaws who looked beyond himself and saw a great dream.

This year we are celebrating BC’s 150th Anniversary. Without Sir John A, there is no doubt in my mind that BC would have been lost to Canada. The vast majority of BC settlers were Americans drawn from San Francisco by the 1858 Gold Rush. John A’s promise of the Canadian Pacific Railway won over the hearts and mind of ambivalent BCers. This extravagant promise almost bankrupted Canada and nearly destroyed Sir John’s A. Macdonald’s political career. Imagine if the Federal Government in 2008 promised to send Canadian Astronauts to Jupiter by 2018! A railway all the way to BC was just as unthinkable in 1870. Some cynics joked that Canada was not a nation, but a railroad in search of a nation

John A was not only a nation-builder but also a bridge-builder. He commented: “We should accept as men and brothers all those who think alike of the future of the country, and wish to act alike for the good of the country, no matter what their antecedents may have been.” He saw Canadian Confederation as a spiritual marriage between francophones and anglophones. Unlike many of his fellow party members, John A could read French, understand it, and speak it reasonably well.” Sir John A commented: “God and nature have made the two Canadas one – let no factious men be allowed to put them asunder.”

After the tragic death of his first wife Isabella, he married Agnes Bernard, just before the national ‘marriage’ of the Dominion of Canada on July 1st, 1867. Agnes wrote in her diary: “I have found something worth living for – living in – my husband’s heart and love.” As a devout Anglican, Agnes had a significant impact on her husband’s life, causing him to cut back on his drinking and start attending church on Sunday. John A was deeply impressed by the Beatitudes, and made a practice of reading his bible every night before bedtime.

In 1888, during six weeks of Hunter-Crossley renewal meetings in Ottawa, Prime Minister Macdonald had a deep encounter with Jesus Christ. As one journalist put it, “When the well-known form of the Honorable Prime Minister arose in the centre of the church, many strong men bowed their heads and wept for joy.” After dining at the prime minister’s home several days later, Rev John Hunter confirmed that “Sir John is a changed man.” May we all, like Sir John A. Macdonald, have the courage to change the things we can.

The Rev Ed Hird+, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Deep Cove Love Story

-an article for the August 2008 Deep Cove Crier

On May 19th 1987 at 2:15 in the afternoon, I met a dear couple who changed my life. I had no idea that I would spend the next twenty-one years getting to know them better. Rita and Ashley Carr are long-term Deep Cove Residents who helped a rather naïve, well-meaning 32-year-old Anglican clergyman learn more about the meaning of life.

As some of the longest members of St. Simon’s North Vancouver, Rita and Ashley taught me much about the people and life of our congregation back in the early pioneering 1950s. Some of their stories, especially about going fishing with Bud the local Anglican priest, were hilarious and full of fun. Rita and Ashley had a way of making a person feel deeply loved and welcomed. They truly lived out the Golden Rule and the Good Book’s call to love one’s neighbour as themselves.

I will always remember that first home visit with Rita and Ashley on Dollarton Highway. As she always did in each succeeding visit, Rita fed me with juice and cookies, and then asked about my family and the congregation. She said to me “It’s about time to get back into the fold”, commenting that when children get older, it’s easy to become inactive.

Some people say nice things to clergy to make them feel better, hoping that they will go away. Rita and Ashley were people of their word. First Rita came back to church, dropped off by Ashley. But gradually Ashley returned as well. They had their favorite seat in the congregation. Even though the Carrs were older, they loved the liveliness of the younger people in our contemporary 10:30am service.

Rita and Ashley aged well. They are one of the most loving and good-natured older couples that I have known. Their deep love for each other ‘for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part’ was an inspiration to many younger couples. Rita was part of the Sweet Adelines singers for many years. She really was one of the sweetest Deep Cove residents that I have had the privilege of meeting. Rita and Ashley were always so good-tempered and kind to others. Even in the worst of times, they always left me feeling better after visiting them.

At the end of every home visit, I would offer to read the bible and pray with them. Rita was a deep woman of prayer. She always prayed with me for each member of her family that they would know Jesus’ love for them. Even after her health made her a shut-in over three years ago, Rita kept in touch with her church family and friends. It was hard for her to not be able to attend her regular Thursday morning St. Simon’s NV home group. But she was always there in spirit.

On July 4th 2008, Rita went home to be with the Lord. As a World War II ‘war bride’, Rita had three homes: England, Deep Cove and Heaven. Rita was ready to go Home. She had a deep confidence in what Jesus had accomplished for her on the cross, and a quiet assurance of the reality of life after death. Like many in the Deep Cove/Seymour community, I deeply miss Rita, and look forward to having ‘English tea’ with her some day in heaven.

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

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Wonderful Wrap-up to a Remarkable Weekend

Dear friends in Christ,

The entire Anglican Network Conference was a very rich and fulfilling way to spend a weekend. The 'piece de resistance' of the weekend was the joint ANiC/ACiC Ordination service on Sunday April 27th at St John's Shaughnessy. With over 500 people present, the service was filled, as David Short+ commented, with "unity, life and joy."

ANiC Bishop Donald Harvey, ANIC Suffragan Bishop Malcolm Harding, and ACiC Bishop Sandy Greene ordained clergy that evening in a significant expression of John 17 unity for the sake of mission.

Archdeacon Trevor Walters presented the Rev. Dr Ken Deeks when he was ordained to the Anglican priesthood/presbyterate. Dr Deeks serves at Christ for the Nations College in the Fraser Valley and at Church of the Resurrection in Hope, BC.

Also ordained was the Rev Jim Salladin who leads the Sunday evening service at St John's Shaughnessy. Standing next to Jim+ is his good friend, the Rev Josh Wilton from St. Simon's North Vancouver (ACiC).

The Rev Randy Forrester, who serves as a Regent College intern at Immanuel Church Vancouver (ACiC), was ordained by Bishop Sandy Greene that evening. Standing next to Randy+ is the Rev David Short, Rector of St John's Shaughnessy, the largest Anglican congregation in Canada.

We were greatly encouraged to have Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya/Texas) and Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone) present for the joint ANiC/ACiC ordination service. They have given invaluable service to Canadian Anglicans over the past six years.
Some people are confused about the terms 'Southern Cone' and 'Global South'. 'Southern Cone' refers to the South American Anglican Province led by Archbishop Venables, which the Anglican Network in Canada has joined. 'Global South' refers to the faithful Anglican Primates and Provinces in South America, Africa, and Asia which are standing up for what Anglicans have always believed and practised. An example of this would be with the Chinese Anglican Churches. The Rev Silas Ng (AMiA/Africa) and the Rev Stephen Leung (ANiC/South America) are now both part of the Global South, sharing together in our Common Cause Federation.

Thank you for all your prayers as God is realigning his Church.
In Christ, Ed Hird+
Communications Director
Anglican Coalition in Canada

VANCOUVER, BC: Apostolic Gospel Must be at Core of our Beliefs, says Priest Theologian
By David W. Virtue in Vancouver 4/27/2008

The priest of the largest Anglican parish in Canada, who is under ecclesiastical siege from revisionist New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham, says his denomination has lost faith in the gospel. This is evidently revealed in the diocesan newspaper, which gives the impression that the gospel is about being nice, being compassionate, recycling "and we will even bless your pets.""The eternal gospel of redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus' death and the power of his resurrection has been replaced with a gospel which is about approval, affirmation and acceptance. The apostolic gospel of sins forgiven, of rescue from eternal punishment has been smoothed and soothed to be more acceptable and relevant," said the Rev. Dr. David Short, pastor of St. John's, Shaughnessy in Vancouver. To read more click here.
VANCOUVER, BC: New Canadian Anglican Bishops Poised To Lead Church & Country Back to ChristBy David W. Virtue 4/27/2008

After a 6-year struggle, two newly licensed Canadian Anglican bishops, along with 30 licensed priests and four deacons, are poised to win souls for Christ in a country that is fast becoming secularized and post Christian. To read more, click here
VANCOUVER, BC: Argentine Archbishop Says Anglican Communion Now Has Two Gospels --Orthodox will have Diminishing Place and Role at Future Anglican Table
An Interview with the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern ConeBy David W. Virtue in Vancouver 4/26/2008

Despite his lofty title and a name that wreaks history, the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, is amazingly humble as he sits and contemplates the future of the Anglican Communion and his role in it. No Archbishop has been more outspoken, tilted at windmills, or been vilified by a fellow Anglican Primate. Yet he still reaches out with love and compassion with firmness of resolve that the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be compromised and that its life-changing message, valid in the First Century, is just as valid in the 21st Century regardless of time, place, culture, gender, age or education. To read more, click here.
"The broken plate" Archbishop Venables' Sermon to Commissioning service of ANiC
April 26th, 2008

We are glad and sad. Your decision and timing are correct. God will work with us as we walk through the next days and weeks and months and years. The Lord never tells us what is going to happen. He promises to be with us as we walk with him. That is how you will know who your true brothers and sisters are.Now to the future and what needs to be done. To read more, click here.
3) (South Africa) (Yahoo Canada News) (Maclean's Magazine) (The Economist Magazine) (My Telus News) (AM 1150 Radio) (Medicine Hat Newspaper, Alberta) (680 Radio News) (Shaw News) (CBC News) (Montreal, Quebec)
Dissident Anglicans look to South America
Dissident Anglicans look to South America, Africa for guidance
April 28th 2008, Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Dissident Anglicans, frustrated with what they feel are the Canadian church's liberal leanings, have found their salvation - and ecclesiastic authority - in unusual places: Africa and South America.

There, the Anglican faith is rooted in traditional, orthodox teachings and is growing in leaps and bounds.

In recent years, 28 parishes have voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada out of frustration with what they perceive as a gradual departure from core values.

It's a huge change from the traditional structure of the Anglican church, which has been determined through geographic - not ideological - boundaries, says John Stackhouse, a professor of theology and culture at Regent College in Vancouver.

"Frankly, we have not seen this sort of thing in Canadian history, and I'm not sure we've seen it in Anglican history," he said. "With the significant size of these dissenting groups, and the international support for them . . . we may see two different bodies in one geographical territory."

There are two main splinter groups: the 13 parishes in the Anglican Coalition of Canada that are now licensed in the Church of the Province of Rwanda, and the 15 in the Anglican Network in Canada, which are under the authority of the Province of the Southern Cone in South America.
The controversy over blessing same-sex unions - in practise at eight Anglican churches in the Diocese of New Westminster in B.C. - is cited as the linchpin issue.

But for Anglicans, there's much more at stake.

"This isn't about just sex," says Stackhouse. "This is about the fundamental question of how we derive any kind of Christian truth.

"What the conservative group is saying is that there is no way to legitimately - that is to say intelligently - interpret the Bible to support same-sex unions. The only way to say that the Bible says that is to do a bad job interpreting the Bible.

"So how do you know what you're supposed to believe if even the bishops of the church are willing to interpret the Bible so badly?"

Rev. Ed Hird of the Anglican Coalition says the thousands of members of the coalition's churches aren't standing in opposition to the Anglican Church of Canada - they're simply getting on with their life.

"We're just happy to be realigned with the healthy expression of Anglicanism from the global south," he said.

The leader of that global south, Archbishop Gregory Venables, caused a firestorm of controversy last week when he arrived in Vancouver to speak at a conference.

The Anglican Church of Canada publicly told him to stay out of this country's affairs. He politely refused, saying those who have left the Canadian church wish to have him in this country.
He says those dissidents are just the first wave. He may be right.

Though few of Canada's more than 2,200 parishes have aligned with the two splinter groups, only a handful of dioceses - essentially a territory governed by a bishop - have opted to allow same-sex blessings.

"We have no idea right now what would happen to the national church if every diocese in the country did what New Westminster had done," Stackhouse said.

"Every diocese in which this has happened - or something like it has happened - churches have split off. This (issue) is very much in play now; this is not the end game at all."

Dissident Anglicans believe their core beliefs - the divinity of Jesus Christ, the sanctity of marriage and the rigidity of the 10 Commandments - are being called into question by the Anglican Church of Canada.

"For some, the Bible is no longer seen as definitive; it's maybe just seen as a symbolic resource book," Hird says. "We see it as definitive in faith and practice."

This departure from traditional teaching is being noticed around the world, Hird says.
"The vast majority (of Anglicans) have expressed real discomfort . . . that's part of the reason they've offered alternative oversight."

But while Hird takes issue with a plurality of liberal views being welcomed within the Anglican church, an official with the Anglican Church of Canada says that's one of the faith's virtues.
"The Anglican church at its best is a broad representation of different views; that's what separates us from the Roman Catholic Church," Archdeacon Paul Feheney said in an interview. "We don't have one way of thinking on issues.

"For some group to say, 'we're the orthodox and you're not,' is a misnomer of the highest regard."
Canadian diocese declares: in full communion with Anglican Network
Posted on April 28, 2008 Filed under News reports that the Synod of the diocese of Athabasca, in northern Alberta, has broken ranks with the leadership of the national Church by declaring it is “in full communion” with the parishes and bishops who have left the Anglican Church of Canada to join the Anglican Network in Canada.
The Synod reportedly passed these resolutions –
Resolution # 2008-11 – BE IT RESOLVED that the Synod inform the parishes and the bishops who have joined the Anglican Network in Canada and the Province of the Southern Cone that we are in full communion with them.
Resolution # 2008-12 – BE IT RESOLVED that the Synod of the Diocese of Athabasca express its dismay that bishops of dioceses have resorted to secular courts when parishes within those dioceses have found it necessary to align themselves with the Anglican Network in Canada and the Province of the Southern Cone. (emphasis added)
With thanks to

Heroes of the Faith at the April 25th-27th Anglican Network Weekend

Dear friends in Christ,

I was so pleased to see the Venerable Dr. Trevor Walters be licensed by Bishop Don Harvey into the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone with Archbishop Greg Venables. Standing beside Archdeacon Walters is his South American Deacon, the Rev. Donald Gardner. Archdeacon Walters, Rector of St Matthew's Abbotsford, led the charge six years ago when we walked out of the June 15th 2002 New West Synod and appealed to alternative episcopal oversight. As the first assistant priest at St. Matthew's Abbotsford with Archdeacon Jack Major (1982-1987), I have a real heart for the people of St Matthew's who taught me much about moving in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Two other Canadian heroes of the faith are the Rev Ray David Glenn, associate priest at St George's Lowville, and the Rev Paul Charbonneau, Rector of St Hilda's Oakville who have both recently taken bold and costly stands for the Gospel. We hold them up in our prayers, as the court cases over their church buildings unfold.

One of our long-term Canadian heroes of the faith is the Rev Canon Charles Alexander from The Timothy Institute in Calgary, the first Chair and Co-ordinator of Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada, which I later chaired. Charles+ was the first guest speaker at our initial Renewal Mission at St. Simon's NV over 20 years ago. We enjoyed Charles+ so much that we are now gearing up for our 22nd Annual Renewal Mission in March 2009 with the Rev William Beasley and the Rev Doc Loomis, both AMiA Network Leaders.

Charles+ led two of his former congregations into the Renewal of the Holy Spirit, St James Calgary and St Mary's Metchosin. Standing next to Charles is Bud Boomer, a courageous lay leader at St Mary's Metchosin where they were recently thrown out of their building for a day by their ex-diocese.

Naturally I was pleased that our ACiC/AMiA Bishop Sandy Greene was able to be present for the whole conference. Bishop Sandy and Bishop John Guernsey both served on a panel about 'Evangelism in a western post-modern culture'. Both Bishops Sandy and John are very committed to the John 17 Common Cause/Anglican Awakening vision of unity in Christ for the sake of mission.

The Rev Canon Chris Sugden of the Oxford Center for Mission Studies has been strategic in the preparations for the Jerusalem GAFCON conference on June 15th to 22nd. We are very grateful to listen to a Kingdom-minded Brit who is able to see beyond his own island, and sacrificially make a stand for the Global South Anglicans, and for the future of the Anglican Church worldwide.

Once again, as with the March 2nd Pacific Coast Anglican Awakening: first steps, there was a large number of Anglican clergy and bishops from many Common Cause jurisdictions at the 1,100 to 1200-strong Saturday afternoon celebration service.
We are encouraged that now all the Chinese Anglican Churches in Greater Vancouver have realigned with the Global South. The Rev Silas Ng, Asian Initiative Network Leader and Rector of Richmond Emmanuel Church, who has one of the largest Anglican Chinese Churches in Canada, is pleased to see the new unity being expressed among Chinese and Caucasian Anglican Churches. Silas+ is currently planting two new Chinese Anglican churches, one in San Francisco and one in Toronto.
God is clearly on the move in Canada.
In Christ,
Ed Hird+
Communications Director
Anglican Coalition in Canada

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Visual Reflections on the April 25th-26th ANiC Conference

Dear friends in Christ,

It was a real joy to spend time, as Common Cause Partners, with our Anglican Network friends on the April 25th-26th 2008 Conference held at South Delta Baptist Church.
Bishop Donald Harvey and Archdeacon Charlie Masters have been working with great dedication in helping Anglicans across Canada to step into a new level of freedom with the Global South.

We are very much looking forward to the ordination tomorrow Sunday April 27th 6:30pm at St John's Shaughnessy of Jim Salladin, shown here with another Regent College grad, the Rev Ken Bell, Rector of St Timothy's North Vancouver (ACiC). Jim preached at our St. Simon's NV congregation two years ago, and now leads the Sunday evening St John's service.

We were also pleased to have Archbishop Yong Ping Chung, one of our AMiA/ACiC sponsoring primates, present for the entire conference. Standing next to Archbishop Yong is the Rev Stephen Leung, Rector of Church of the Good Shepherd who walked out of New West Synod 2002 with us almost six years ago. Stephen+ was just relicensed today along with dozens of other ANiC clergy by Bishop Donald Harvey and Archbishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone.

The Rev Dr JI Packer, author of the best-selling book 'Knowing God', was also relicensed today. His courageous theological leadership over the past number of decades at Regent College is deeply appreciated. The Anglican Studies Program at Regent College has proved to be a real god-send in this time of Anglican transition and realignment.

Bishop Charles Dorrington of the Reformed Episcopal Church was among many bishops and archbishops who joined us for this historic conference. The Reformed Episcopal Church in Canada recently celebrated their 133rd anniversary of realigning towards biblical orthodoxy. The REC are vital partners in the emerging Common Cause Federation.

The prolific Anglican reporter David Virtue with Virtueonline was present interviewing key leaders like Archbishop Venables and Dr JI Packer.

Bishop Albert Vun of the Diocese of Sabah, where Archbishop Yong was the predecessor, spoke about the remarkable church growth and evangelism being experienced in South East Asia.

We were also grateful for strong Common Cause Partners being there like Bishop John Guernsey of Uganda/USA, Bishop Bill Murdoch of Kenya/USA, and Dean Bill Thompson of the Anglican Communion Network.

Bishop Suffragan Malcolm Harding led two of our 21 St. Simon's NV Renewal Missions, as well as our BC Christian Ashram Retreat. He is standing beside a longterm friend, retired Bishop Len Whitten of Newfoundland.

The closing service, which had 1,100 to 1,200 people present, left many of us with tears of joy and expressions of deep thanksgiving. God is continuing to give faithful Anglicans a deeper realization of Jesus' John 17 prayer that we may be one for the sake of mission.

All in all, a great Kingdom weekend.

In Christ, Ed Hird+
Communications Director
Anglican Coalition in Canada/AMiA (Common Cause Federation)

Monday, March 17, 2008

"I don't believe in God..."

by the Rev. Ed Hird
an article for the April 2008 Deep Cove Crier

Today’s new atheism has been popularized by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. Contemporary atheism reminds me of Alexandre Dumas’ book ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. You may remember Jim Caviezel/ Edmond Dantes’ cry while in Chateau d’If prison: “I don’t believe in God”. Edmond had suffered so deeply and so unfairly for so long that he had given up on the concept of a loving and just God. His ‘cellmate’ Abbe Faria poignantly replied to Edmond: “God believes in you.”

Alexandre Dumas lived through many French revolutions during which belief in God became distinctly out-of-fashion or even dangerous to one’s health. Dumas experienced much disappointment in his life, and was frequently either breaking the heart of a female acquaintance or having his own heart broken. Yet in the midst of many setbacks, Dumas had a fascination with the God question that comes across in his over 250 novels, travel pieces, memoirs, and theatre productions. Best known as author of ‘The Three Musketeers’, ‘The Man with the Iron Mask’, and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, Dumas had a remarkable ability to touch deep into people’s souls. As his friend Victor Hugo said after Dumas’ death, Alexandre “fertilizes the soul, the mind, the intelligence; he creates a thirst for reading; he penetrates the human genius and sows seeds in it.”

In the Dumas biography ‘Genius of Life’, we are told about young Dumas’ tragic loss of his father: “Why should I not see (my father) any more?”
“Because God has taken him back”
“...I’m going to heaven”, said young Dumas, “I’m going to kill God who killed my papa.”

Dumas, being an avid reader, learned much sacred history from the Bible that later shaped many of his plays. Dumas encouraged the studying of ‘the bible as a religious, historic and poetic book’. At one point, young Dumas was given funding in a will to go to seminary and become a priest. This overwhelmed him, and he said “I am running away, because I do not want to be a priest.” Receiving his first communion had a profound impact on Dumas: “When the host touched his lips, he became dizzy, burst into sobs, and fainted. It took him three days to recover from this...Dumas would never again approach the communion table, except at the hour of his death.”

Our reactions to suffering and injustice can make or break us, turn us bitter or better. So often we are insensitive to the deeper issues of life until we have personally ‘hit the wall’. Edmond Dantes the Monte Cristo hero recalled that ‘the prayers taught him by his mother discovered in them a hidden meaning hitherto unknown to him. To the happy and prosperous man, prayer is but a meaningless jumble of words until grief comes to explain to the poor wretch the sublime language that is our means of communication with God.”

Edmond Dantes miraculously escaped from prison and found hidden treasure on the Island of Monte Cristo. Using resurrection language, Dumas commented, “When (Edmond) was at the height of his despair, God revealed himself to him through another human being. One day he left his tomb transfigured miraculously.”

But Edmond was consumed by a need for revenge that threatened to destroy his own new freedom. “I must have revenge, Mercedes! For fourteen long years have I suffered, for fourteen years wept and cursed, and now I must avenge myself.” Dantes admitted to Mercedes: “From being a kind and confiding nature, I made myself in to a treacherous and vindictive man...If you ever loved me, don’t rob me of my hate. It is all I have.” She wisely responded, saying, “Let it go Edmond. Let it go.

Edmond’s reappearance after so many years in prison called forth this memorable statement from Mercedes: “Edmond, I know there is a God above, for you still live and I have seen you. I put my trust in him to help me...Unhappy wretch that I am, I doubted God’s goodness...Cowardice was at the root of all my actions.” Edmond responded to her deep repentance by saying: “you have disarmed me by your sorrow...God had need of me and my life was spared.”

At the end of the book, Edmond faces the Christ-like choice of mercy or revenge. He painfully chose mercy which set him free from the root of bitterness that was eating him alive. Mercedes commented: “I repeat once more, Edmond, it is noble, beautiful to forgive as you have done.”

Dumas said in ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ that ‘the wretched and miserable should turn to their Saviour first, yet they do not hope in Him until all other hope is exhausted.’ My prayer for the Seymour/Deep Cove community is that we not totally exhaust ourselves before we finally admit our spiritual need.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Good Friday Goodbye

Good Friday Goodbye
-an article for the March 2008 Deep Cove Crier
by the Rev. Ed Hird+

What a joy to celebrate twenty years of the existence of the Deep Cove Crier. I remember twenty years ago when Wilf Fawcett of Fawcett Insurance approached me about becoming a columnist for the Deep Cove Crier. Wilf wrote a DCC insurance article for many years before retiring.

I had no idea when I agreed to start that I would be still writing for the Deep Cove Crier twenty years later. As I have mentioned to Bruce Coney the DCC Publisher, my recent award-winning book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’ is a direct fruit of sharpening my skills by month-in, month-in writing for the Seymour/Deep Cove Community. Thank you, Bruce and Gail, for opening this door in my life.

Writing and books have a tremendous influence on all of our lives. Sometimes the most powerful writing we do is when we say ‘Goodbye’. Most eulogies at funerals are an opportunity to say Goodbye, to pay our last regards. Most of us say ‘goodbye’ thousands of times in our lives. Saying goodbye to our loved ones is always the hardest. As most of us are immigrants to Canada within the past number of generations, we know the story of how hard it was for ourselves, our parents or grandparents to leave our homeland and come to this strange land named Canada. My Nana Allen was born in Canada, but she still called England the mother country. She longed deeply for a land that she never saw until she turned 80. When the Irish left Ireland to come to the new world, many of their relatives had a wake, in effect burying them as dead.

Unless we learn to say goodbye from our hearts, we can never move forward in our lives. Many people will never let go. They easily become bitter, discouraged, and even physically ill. Letting go and letting God is not just a slogan. It is a vital key to restoring health in the 21st Century.

Jesus said ‘Blessed are those who mourn/grieve for they shall be comforted.’ Saying goodbye is the heart of genuine, healthy living. The term ‘goodbye’ is an English contraction of the phrase ‘God be with you!’ Why were our ancestors always saying ‘goodbye’ to each other? Because they wanted God to be with them. What better gift can we give each other that the gift of God being with them?

This month, we remember Good Friday and Easter. Jesus had to say goodbye on Good Friday before he could say ‘hello’ on Easter Sunday. Why did Jesus leave his best friends on Good Friday? He left them because he loved them and wanted God to be with them. As Jesus hung on the cross, he said ‘Goodbye’: “Into your hands I commit my spirit’. Jesus knew that unless he let go and surrendered to the cross, there would be no way forward. The resurrection joy of Easter Sunday is a direct result of Jesus saying goodbye on Good Friday. My prayer for you this Easter is the words ‘goodbye’. May you discover this Easter that God is really with you, that you are deeply loved.

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

Friday, January 18, 2008

Greetings from the Windy City

Greetings from the Windy City
An article for the February 2008 Deep Cove Crier
By the Rev Ed Hird+

I recently flew into the Windy City in the middle of a snowstorm, and wondered what I was doing there. Because of mechanical failure, my earlier flight was cancelled and I had to fly to San Francisco instead. Thanks to a sleep mask and ear plugs, I slept wonderfully at 30,000 feet, ending up in Chicago at 6:30am the next morning. My Chicago meetings started immediately at 8:30am that same day!

So why was I in Chicago anyways? I had been invited to take part in a two-day strategy session designed to help Christians and especially Anglicans learn to love each other more. We had Anglican leaders from Canada, various parts of the USA, and England gathering together, praying together, eating together, listening together. Some of us knew each other before. About half of us were total strangers.

We listened carefully to an exciting story about how Anglicans overcame their differences and gathered together on Sept 23rd in the first ever Anglican Awakening. More than 2,000 individuals met at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois to affirm their unity of faith and belief in Christ, and to hear a sermon from The Most Rev. Dr. Peter Akinola, Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

“Two thousand years ago Jesus prayed that ‘they all would be one, as we are one,’” Archbishop Akinola began. “Where is that unity? Has God not answered the prayer of His Son?”

Archbishop Akinola commented that Christians today don’t have the unity they desire because they have not been transformed by the power of the Gospel. “You cannot give what you do not have,” Archbishop Akinola affirmed an African saying. “We can’t have unity with one another unless we have unity with God.”

The Midwest Anglican Awakening included 20 participating congregations from a variety of ethnic and denominational backgrounds. The organizing committee was chaired by the Rev. William Beasley, the Midwest AMiA Network leader.

“I was delighted by the spirit of unity displayed in the service today, and I believe we are all more united in purpose than ever, to accomplish the mission God has for us both in sharing the Gospel of Christ and in serving physical needs around the world today,” the Rev. Beasley said.

Before the benediction, Archbishop Akinola strayed from the program to lead an extended time of prayer for healing, teaching the congregation an African prayer song imploring “Let the Spirit of the Lord come down on us.”

“I believe we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in a powerful way today, and we all were encouraged and empowered to unite together in mission and purpose to reach and serve the global Body of Christ,” William Beasley said.

On Sunday March 2nd at 7pm , we will be having a Pacific Coast Anglican Awakening: first steps to which you are all invited. It will be held at Fraserview MB Church at 11295 Mellis Drive in Richmond. Bishop Bill Murdoch of the Anglican Province of Kenya and Anglican Communion Network Dean for New England will be preaching. The Rev William Beasley, AMiA Midwest Network Leader, will also be taking part. Please join us in celebrating the gift of unity in Jesus Christ.

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

Thursday, January 3, 2008

TAPS: Life after Death in 2008
TAPS: Life after Death
an article for the January 2008 Deep Cove Crier

by the Rev. Ed Hird+

As we enter the 2008 New Year, many are wondering about what lies ahead this year. Every new beginning is both a fresh start and a death to that which went before us.

I have discovered that you cannot say ‘yes’ to something new without saying ‘no’ to something else. Sometimes in our frantic culture, we keep adding endless things to our agendas, our lives, and our family. Eventually emotional indigestion sets in. Without healthy boundaries, everything crashes. The joy of life itself disappears.

In reflecting on the 2008 New Year, I was struck by the appropriateness of the bugle song Taps.

“Day is done, gone the sun
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.”

What gives us hope for this 2008 New Year, as we have bid farewell to 2007? The Year 2007 is gone, never to be retrieved again, except in our memories. But we can safely rest, for God is nigh. In the uncertainty of the unfolding future, we can say ‘It is well with my soul’ for God is nigh. In the pain of grief, tragedy, and unexpected suffering, we can say that there is hope, because God is nigh.The bugle call was written in 1862 by the Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, an American Civil War general.

Taps also replaced "Tattoo", the French bugle call for "lights out." Within months, Taps was used by both Union and Confederate forces.

The Taps bugler continues:
“Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, goodnight.

Taps is a very sad bugle song. Few songs touch our hearts more deeply. That is why it is so appropriate at military funerals. At the 1999 Taps Arlington Ceremony, Chaplain Colonel Brogan said the following: “Lord of our lives, our hope in death, we cannot listen to Taps without our souls stirring. Its plaintive notes are a prayer in music--of hope, of peace, of grief, of rest... Prepare us too, Lord, for our final bugle call when you summon us home! When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and death will be no more."

At the heart of Taps is an assurance that the light of the dawn will shine brightly. Light is always stronger than darkness. Love is stronger than hate. Life is stronger than death.

Taps reminds us that there is life after death. Sometimes we experience smaller deaths like the death of a job, a marriage, or a relationship. Other times we experience the finality of a loved one’s funeral. Taps reminds us that even in great pain and tragedy, “God is near, do not fear’.
Life can be very hard, sometimes heart-breaking. In this 2008 New Year, may you find great comfort that there is life after every kind of death. Jesus on the cross assured that. God is near.

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