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