Friday, December 17, 2010

Many Blessings - Lawrence

There will not be any scheduled postings over the Christmas season as we all become so busy at this time of year. However, there may be some unscheduled writings if members of this blog should feel so moved.

Check in from time to time and see what is here. In any case, there have been many interesting and heart-warming articles over the last couple of weeks that relate to the Christmas season.

We will begin regularly scheduled blogging on this site on January 3rd, 2011. I hope you will rejoin us then.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Happens/MANN

Christmas has many layers for me: Spiritual and physical; relational and reconciling; unions and reunions; giving and receiving—experiencing God’s presence being the most significant of all my presents. I was raised with all the farm trimmings of Christmas: horse and cutter, cutting the tree in the back bush, the black mare drawing it up to the house on a stone boat, setting it up in the ‘front room’ - a place we never used in the winter.

The farm kitchen would smell like Christmas for a week, with the scent of roast goose, dressing, fruit cake and plum pudding. And over several days through the holidays, family and friends would come and go. For me, Christmas is a season rather than a day, so it’s been easy for me through the years to weave a busy church life in with family activities.

As our adult children had their own families, we graduated to having our Christmas Family Dinner early in the month. This way, the grandchildren could stay at home with their new toys on the day. As clergy, I’d visit the local hospital and nursing homes, always aware of the sorrow of separation and loss during this time of the year. I was often reminded of the many lonely people who suffered through the season of Christmas and families who would never gather around a festive dinner table. Remembering the Christmas of my youth, it would not have been uncommon for my mother to fill a few plates with Christmas dinner to share with neighbours.

Houses, through their Christmas decorations or lack of them, are often similar to families in reflecting the good news of the season. This was on my mind as my husband and I recently took possession of a hundred-year-old house in a historic village an hour south of us. Although the farmhouse in which we live is appropriately decorated in traditional century style, I couldn’t help thinking of the quiet, dark house sitting in the midst of a lively, celebrative neighbourhood through this Christmas season. I had shared this concern with several of my friends, but I didn’t do anything about it as the hours in the day were not long enough to spread between two properties.

A few days ago, my husband and I drove to the newly acquired house to do some work. Before he turned the car into the driveway—I saw it. A large green spruce garland looped along the front veranda railing with golden, laced bows at each end and a larger one in the middle. A comparable wreath hung on the front door reflective of the unending circle of God’s love, while drawing attention to the hospitality soon to be evident beyond that door.

Christmas happens in different ways. For in this present from an anonymous friend who knew my heart’s desire, I saw the unmistakeable gift of God’s presence in this act of friendship.

Donna Mann
Aggie’s Storms (2007) Aggie’s Dream (2010) The young years of the first woman elected to The House of Commons, Ottawa.
WinterGrief (2003) A personal response to death
Meadowlane Children’s MP3/PDF based on the Fruit of the Spirit and Virtues present in a child’s life

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Child is This at Christmas? -HIRD

By Rev Ed Hird

One of the most favorite Christmas Carols is William Chatterton Dix’s “What Child is This?” At the age of twenty-nine, Dix was struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bedrest for several months. He went into a deep depression. Out of this near-death experience, Dix wrote many hymns, including ‘What Child is This?”. Written in 1865, Dix made use of powerful word pictures that still speak one hundred and forty-one years later:

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

What is it about the Christmas story that keeps capturing our hearts year after year? What child is this?

Why does this baby on Mother Mary’s lap win the attention of billions of people every December? Why angels? Why shepherds? What child is this?

One of the strangest things about the Christmas story is the birthplace of the Christmas child in a cattle shed. What kind of place is that to celebrate Christmas? It wasn’t even sanitary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

There is something about the Christmas Child that will not go away, that cannot be avoided, that is inescapably part of Canadian culture.

What Child is this anyways? William Chatterton Dix’s Carol had this response:

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

What Child is this? Why do wise men still seek him?

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

This Christmas, may loving hearts enthrone the Christmas Child. May loving hearts welcome this Child into their homes, their lives, their souls.

The Reverend Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada
You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

Monday, December 13, 2010

We Lost Jesus—den Boer

Every December I’m one of several like-minded people who volunteer to decorate our church. We are ordinary run-of-the-mill, get-it-done, Christmas decorators. We assemble tree, tinsel and garlands according to the patterns and traditions of yesteryear.

The Sunday evening before our scheduled church decorating, I attended a church already decked out for Christmas. In discussion after the service, a church friend noted the taste and style, for instance, how the Christmas decorations at the front of that church didn’t interfere with the musical paraphernalia on the stage. I took this as a challenge.

On Monday morning, the day of our church decorating, I purposed to create something new and beautiful—with no idea how to do this.

At the church, a fellow church decorator and I found the stepladder and brought the tree down from the platform above the back storage room. Up on that platform, I found a red felt banner complete with golden dowels. How Christmas is that? The banner read, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life” in white and gold. I handed the banner down to Lynn. But, how to hang it? This was one Looonnnng banner. If I stood on the top rung of our stepladder with Lynn balanced on my shoulders we just might be able to reach high enough. Lynn is quite tall.

We laid the banner out on the stage. I quietly hoped for inspiration.

Next, I took my energy, initiative and creative ability into the crawlspace under the stage where the decorations of Christmas’ past are stored. I examined every box and bag. I pulled out new and old alike. We dragged all these things into the foyer. A pile of brownery crumbled out of one of the older bags. We would vacuum that later.

The tree came first. Our church’s artificial tree looks very real. It stands about ten feet tall. It has to be tied to the coat racks or it will fall down. We know this from experience. We set the tree in the same old corner where the coat rack could hold it up and where it wouldn’t gather attention unduly. After all, a Christmas tree is heathen in origin.

Decorating the tree took longer than expected. First we tested the numerous strings of white and coloured lights. Three strings of coloured lights glowed brightly. Once these were on the tree, the top string stopped glowing. Lynn solved this with a trip to the local hardware store.

By lunch three decorators had the tree half decorated and two of the seven windows in the sanctuary garlanded.

After lunch our crew expanded to five and we finished the tree and the windows and spruced up the foyer.

Time to go home and we hadn’t set up the nativity scene yet. We had the stable, but where were the wise men, the shepherds, Joseph, Mary and Jesus? Where was Jesus?

Marian den Boer is the author of Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Remembering the Manger - Belec

I'm thinking that Jesus would likely upturn a few tables or two if he saw some of the wretched so-called Christmas gift items that might just be found on the shelves of some of our local Stuffmarts.

I receive a newsletter from an organization who does tend to be a little overzealous sometimes about some matters, ecologically speaking. But for the most part, they put out an informative bit of news each day and some of their articles are down right interesting.
Yesterday an article described the top ten terrible toys. Bear in mind that these are marketed towards children.

1. Hannibal Lecter Action Figure - a cannibalistic serial-killer doll.
2. Barbie Little Red Riding Hood complete with fishnet knee-highs, dominatrix stilettos, a micro-mini, a lace-up corset...
3. Shapeshifters Weapon Punisher, which is like a transformer with sexual inuendo
4. Boogaz Pick ‘n’ Flick Launcher
5. Pee and Poo Plush Dolls

I think I will stop here. My stomach turns when I read about such garbage. What kind of people think up these things and who in their right mind would sell [or buy] such trash? Don't people realize that 'garbage in = garbage out?'

Don't get me wrong. I am no prude and I enjoy a laugh more than once a day.
But, God must shake His head and regret the day He gave us free will when He sees such disgusting ways that people try to make their almighty dollar. And they call these Christmas gift suggestions? Bah humbug on that one.

It is beyond me, anyway, why people celebrate Christmas if they do not believe in Jesus. Of course, like I said - the mighty dollar is the impetus. Please God, remind me to do my part to stay off that bandwagon.

There is so much razamataz and hooplah around this time of the year that annoys me, although I really do love Christmas as a celebration. I have to be careful that the soft, joyful cries of the tiny Babe do not get obliterated by the incessant noise and perversions of the reason for the season. I'm trying. I'm trying.

[Keep me focussed, Lord. Remind me to look beyond the tinsel and the trinkets. Help me stand up and state my disgust at things that undermine and bring shame to you, my Heavenly Father.]

Thank goodness, God has a perfect Way to put life into perspective. Remembering the Manger.

Now I feel much better. Now it all makes sense. If we had a perfect world, then God would not have had to send His blessed Son to this earth. Come Lord Jesus, come. [We sure do need You!]

Friday, December 10, 2010

Find God’s cheer – all year - Gibson

Sometimes at Christmas I sense that the lyrics of “Deck the Halls” have changed to “Deck the shops with and ire and folly, na na na na.... Tis the season to be growly, na na na na....”

Even for Christians, Christmas often becomes a lengthy, disappointing list:

Too much commotion, and no peace. Too much eating, and nothing to satisfy inner hunger. Too much glitter, and very little graciousness. Too much activity, but scant purpose. Too much living and no real life.

The list drones on: Too much talk, but nothing to say. Too much church, and not enough worship. Too many people, but precious little fellowship. Too much laughter, but no lasting joy.

Saddest of all? Too many gifts, and no Divine presence.

In a crowded parking lot just before Christmas a few years ago, I maneuvered my car between two others. As I opened my door, it lightly tapped the side of the older vehicle next to me—my first mistake.

A quick inspection revealed no damage, so I began walking away—fast, trying to escape the bitter prairie wind. My second mistake.

A harsh voice exploded behind me. “Yeah, right, you (bleepety, bleeped bleep). Just walk away. See if I care. Ya just wrecked the side of my car, ya know.”

My mind had already jumped to my mission inside the warmth of the store. It took a second to even hear the voice, and another to realize that it came from the car parked next to mine. Turning, I saw a middle-aged woman slouched in the driver’s seat. I hadn’t noticed her before. Horrified, I turned around and walked back. Mistake number three.

“Ma’am, I’m so sorry. I did tap your car, but there’s no damage,” I said. “Look for yourself. But please forgive me—I would have said something if I’d noticed you sit...”

She didn’t let me finish. Her window was down, and her ire was up.

“Yeah. (Bleepedy) right ‘ya checked it, ya (bleepety bleeped bleep). She followed that colorful verbal barrage with energetic obscene gestures and even greater flapping of her tongue.

Well, okay then.

Realizing that her diatribe was likely less about her car than her life, I didn’t make mistake number four. Trying to reason with a fool makes two fools, usually, so I simply turned and walked away, thinking, “Christmas clearly hasn’t made her jolly!”

In fact, Christmas can’t make anyone jolly, even Christians. At least not for long. If you’re not happy at the beginning of December, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find joy under the tree on December 25, and definitely not at Boxing Day sales, no matter how deeply discounted that new iPhone is.

Lasting joy doesn’t spring up like a jack-in-the-box. It blooms by intentionally nurturing Christ’s spirit within, by daily opening the gift of Divine Presence, and by living life determined, above all else, to please God—year round.

God’s cheer as you prepare to celebrate Christ. Tis the season to be holy...Ha la la la la, la le- liua!

Sunny Side Up, Kathleen Gibson's weekly faith and life newspaper column, is also posted at

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas Celebration - Atchison

Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a celebration of family togetherness. We celebrate giving and receiving, extending joy, and feeling happiness.

While the celebration of the birth of Jesus should be the main event, it is becoming less important within the busy holiday season. It becomes the simple act of going to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Other priorities of purchasing and wrapping presents, visiting Santa, attending parties and social events, making family arrangements and preparing fancy meals and treats becomes what we focus on most.

Most people are lucky at Christmas to have family to celebrate the holidays with, to visit, and spend time with. For others, their family members may be too far away and it is impossible for them to be together. Some folks don’t have much family left or are estranged. Christmas becomes a time where we reflect on family and what our families mean to us.

The best part about Christmas celebrations is that people (and organizations) open their hearts and homes so that even if someone is alone, invitations are extended and those who are not as fortunate have a place to go for Christmas and are welcomed.

The celebration of Christmas for some is to give. Children love to receive their presents from Santa and also learn what giving means as they too prepare for the celebration of Christmas. It is the unexpected gifts we receive, whether it is a simple handshake or hug from someone whose respect we dearly seek, or the friendly smile from someone who brightens our day when things just aren’t going right.

We extend joy throughout Christmas by doing little things for others and sharing the joy of the holiday season by being a little bit more patient and helpful with each other. It is the time of year where people love to do for others and do receive joy from simple acts of giving.

Christmas has different meaning for all individuals, whether they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ or not. Christmas is still a spiritual holiday. God has helped us with this by helping us to help others during this holiday season. Whether we embrace Christmas or not, we do find ways of celebrating it one way or another, of giving and accepting gifts of the heart, extending joy and perhaps finding a little happiness in an otherwise very hectic time.

Patricia L. Atchison
Writing & Publishing Blog:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Do Not Be Afraid — Martin

There’s no season like Advent and Christmas that has inspired so much music. Glen Soderholm’s new Christmas CD is a fine collection, within the best of that tradition.

Most of the songs are not well-known standards. Some are Glen’s originals, and others come from fine Canadian Christian songwriters such as Tim Alberts (“Shine”), and Carolyn Arends (“Do Not Be Afraid”). You’ll also hear Glen’s version of “This Christmas” — the song he co-wrote with Jacob Moon, which Jacob recorded as the title track for his own Christmas CD in 2007.

One of my favourite cuts is “Song of The Magi” from American songstress Anais Mitchell. It includes both the traditional images of the wise men, plus a vision of present-day Bethlehem:
-----------“Welcome home my child
-----------your home is a checkpoint now
-----------your home is a border town
-----------welcome to the brawl
-----------life ain’t fair my child
-----------put your hands in the air my child
-----------slowly now single file now
-----------up against the wall...”

Of course Soderholm has recorded a few traditional carols — “Angels From the Realms of Glory”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”— though he alters the musical phrasing in places, or adds his own bridge to freshen up what could otherwise be considered too familiar. A less-known carol, “People Look East” is another interesting addition.

I think that for Glen this has been an on-again-off-again project, for he released two of the songs from Do Not Be Afraid on his excellent 2008 album This Bright Sadness. He probably should have either saved them for this release, or should have re-recorded them with a different arrangement for this CD. As much as I like them, I often click the skip button, since I listen to them regularly on the other album.

If you enjoy intelligent music — particularly acoustic-based songs, smoothly delivered — Glen Soderholm’s Do Not Be Afraid will make an ideal addition to your Advent, Nativity and Epiphany celebrations.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at:

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Promise of Christmas - M. Laycock

Chaos reigned supreme. That’s how it seemed as we rehearsed our Christmas play. The first rehearsal didn’t really happen. The second one was only a bit better, and three quarters of the cast didn’t make it to the third. Those of us who were supposedly “in control” wondered if we were going to have a play at all.

That was nothing new. Every year it seems to happen. Kids run helter-skelter, some don’t show up, some can’t find costumes or those made for them don’t fit. The choir director is tearing her hair out This year seemed a bit more chaotic than usual. But somehow it all came together in the end. The night of the performance seemed to go well. I say seemed, because I was too busy trying to keep my “cast” quiet and focused, to notice if the play was working. One of the magi discovered he could use one of the shepherd’s headbands as a slingshot to wing the beads off his crown clear across the front of the church. That delighted the kids in the front row who dashed out to pick them up. Mary couldn’t stop squirming because her costume was made of wool, and Joseph kept changing his mind about which robe fit best – right up until he walked out onto the ‘stage.’

I wasn’t sure it had really all come together until the audience stood to applaud at the end. When many congratulated us on a job well done, all I could say was, “It’s a miracle!”

And that’s the promise of Christmas – it all comes together in the end. I’m sure the followers of Jesus, watching the drama of His life and death, felt the same way we ‘directors’ did. To those who thought they were in control, it looked like chaos reigned. From the moment of His birth, He and His parents had to run from those who wanted to kill Him. As He performed miracles, religious leaders plotted against Him. Even the disciples themselves didn’t understand His message. They were disappointed that He didn’t chase the Romans out of the country; He never did set up an earthly kingdom. Then, the cross. It looked like everything they tried to accomplish was doomed to fail. But in the end ...

In the end, the stone was rolled away. The baby born in a stable and crucified on a cross was raised glorified, to the glory of His Father.

And there is another promise yet to unfold. As the birth of Christ is overshadowed by the cross, which was blasted away by his resurrection, even that will be outdone by His return. One day, God has told us, “Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength’.” (Isaiah 45:23,24)

It will be a miracle and it really will all come together in the end.

To read more of Marcia's work or to book her for a speaking engagement, visit

Monday, December 06, 2010

Don't break that chain - Nesdoly

I am the writer of our family’s annual Christmas letter. I have, in my "Christmas" file, a copy of each one I’ve written! One of these years (maybe this one) I’ll make a photocopy of each and compile scrapbooks for my now-adult kids. But before I indulge in that luxury, I’ve set myself the task of writing this year’s letter.

For me the hardest part of composing this yearly newsletter is getting started. To help me with that I usually reread past versions to see how I’ve done it before. And so on Friday, I hauled out the Christmas file and flipped through this family history-in-letters.

The first thing that hit me was how technology has changed things. The earliest letters were handwritten on lined notepaper. A couple of years after that I designed letters that folded into cards with calligraphy or pen-and-ink drawings on the front. I painstakingly printed the artwork and the letter itself on parchment paper those years to keep the ink from fuzzing, as it did if I used bond. Then I photocopied them.

In 1990 I must have hauled out my old manual Olympus to do the Christmas letter - because it definitely has the typewriter look (white-out and all). Then in 1991 I used a borrowed word processor. Finally in 1992 I got a computer which I’ve used till the present, printing the letters on a variety of Christmas stationary.

In addition to mirroring advances in technology, a bit of the history of the times comes through these letters too. For example the 1990 letter begins:
In only a few more weeks 1990 will be history. It has truly been an amazing year in our world, with the unexpected toppling of much of the Eastern Bloc, the sudden flare-up in the Middle East and looming uncertainties throughout our country as befuddled politicians tackle one brush fire after another...

(My goodness, that last bit could be a description of Canadian politics any year!)

In 1997 a mail strike was pending and that year’s letter started out:
To write or not to write that is the question,
Whether the mail will move we do not know
But when it comes to friends, e’en the suggestion
That we’d forget them’s answered with a ‘No!'

And a year later, as email became the favorite mode of communication for me, I jingled:
Email would be faster
a visit even better,
but as tradition would dictate,
from us a Christmas letter....

The most favorite part of rereading these letters, though, is reliving times with the kids. Here are a few favorite bits.

From the 1990 letter when B. had just turned five:
...This is a conversation we overheard between him and a little boy in the next seat on the ferry this summer. They were watching some object in the sky.

Little Boy: ...maybe it will go as high as Santa Claus.

B.: Santa Claus is a sham

Little Boy: (silence)

B: Do you know what a "sham" is? It’s a fake.

We nervously glanced at the little boy’s parents and were
relieved when the two boys started talking about something else.

(Though Santa was never part of our Christmas tradition, we did not coach our kids to dash other kids' illusions about Father Christmas - honestly.)

And from that same letter:
S’s comeback to B’s endless knock-knock jokes:

B.: Knock-knock

S.: This is a recording. There is nobody home.

Finally, from the 1993 letter, when S. was 10 and not the keenest pianist:
...I brought some dispute between the children re: piano practice times to Ernie, our resident mediator and after he suggested a solution to the problem, he declared, "I’m as good as Solomon," at which point I heard S. mutter, "Yeah, cut the piano in half!"

Alas, reading all these old letters brings me no closer to starting this year’s. But I’ll think of a way to begin it in due course. Because I wouldn’t want to break this letter chain– which already spans 20 years!


I first posted this on my blog in late November 2005. That year I did get around to putting together a collection of letters for the kids. I made color copies of each, slipped them into plastic protective sheets, printed a photo collage cover, put the works into D-ring binders and called the project "Our Story in Letters."

So take up that pen or head over to that keyboard to write your annual Christmas letter. After all, you're writing much more than a letter - you're writing history.


Personal blog promptings 

Kids' daily devotions Bible Drive-Thru

Daily Devotions for adults: Other Food: daily devo's

A poem portfolio 

Thursday, December 02, 2010

How Quickly Life Can Change - Lawrence

On October 27th, 2010, I wrote in my daily journal as usual. On October 28th, I wrote the date and nothing more. That same day, I was admitted to hospital and there I stayed for two weeks, at first, not knowing whether I would live or die and, to tell the truth, not caring much either way.

Only a few days before that, I had been so excited about my new manuscript, Highway of Holiness: Soul Journey, being accepted by a publisher from the U.S.A. and had arranged to have the manuscript completed for typesetting at the end of December 2010. Suddenly, I had no energy to think about the manuscript never mind care whether I completed it or not.

Gradually, I am gaining strength, some days, I have more than others. I have to learn to pace myself and realize that God's time may not be the same as mine. I am trying to figure out what it is that God wants to teach me through this unexpected time of illness; as yet, I do not know.

I am grateful to my publisher for giving me an extension on my deadline and, I pray, that I will come closer to God through my everyday happenings.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Thoughts on Advent and Christmas - Reynolds

Every Advent season I find myself not quite in tune with the current liturgical fashion. Here I put my thoughts down on paper and present them now for any response you might be willing to give. This just seems like a good place for theological discussion!

Advent traditionally signifies the beginning of the new year of the Christian calendar, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Advent is for me a time of joyous expectation. The somber sounds of judgment in the message of John the Baptist are for another time, such as Lent when we remember our sin and the sin of the world. Advent is a time to celebrate the wondrous love and incredible grace of God who came among us as a humble babe born in a stable.

The “joyous expectation” is not restricted to the four weeks leading up to Christmas but is an element of faith all year which only intensifies as Christmas approaches. For those of us who believe that faith is lived as much in kairos as chronos, as much "God’s time" as "clock time," expectation and fulfillment blur together -- the already and the not-yet. "The Season of Christmas" does not begin on December 25th (or the evening of December 24th) as some liturgical literalists would have us believe. It begins with the faith and hope given by the Incarnation of God in Christ which is what Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, is meant to signify. Some of us are like little children, ready for Christmas anytime of year!

That of course does not mean instant satisfaction. Fulfillment is still to come. Rebel against liturgical literalism that I am, I still don’t like to sing "Silent Night" until Christmas Eve. But many of the traditional Advent hymns are so dreary, the words talking of judgment and destruction, and the tunes are positively droney. I long to sing songs of joy and hope in anticipation of Christmas. In other words, I want to start singing some of the "Christmas carols" during the Sundays of Advent.

It may be that the Second Advent is mentioned in the New Testament eight times for each mention of the First Advent, but at this season I just want to remember the First Advent -- that Christ has come. I’ll spend from Pentecost to "Christ the King" concentrating on and working toward the Second Advent, but in the weeks leading up to and immediately following Christmas, I want to concentrate on the First Advent, that Christ has come, that God is not just in heaven but on earth, and ultimately all will be well.

And so my colour for Advent, the Season of Christmas, is red -- bold, bright red. Blue is for the blues. Purple for the time of Lent, whose lengthening days give me the courage to repent. But for Advent, it’s red! Red bows upon the evergreen. Red candles in the “Advent wreath,” while at its centre the great white Christ candle stands in wait. Red wine with the bread on the table, reminding us that even the Crucifixion is triumph. (Blue is indeed my favourite colour, but the designation of blue for Mary the mother of Jesus came out of the Counter Reformation and the Spanish Inquisition. That’s enough to turn me off.)

So call me the Red Rebel, or Reynolds the Red, or whatever you like. Whatever the liturgical fad (remember the letters stand for "For A Day"), I will start to get in the spirit of Christmas about the same time the stores bring out the Christmas stuff and start playing the carols. And horrible as the Musak may sound, and atrocious as the "stuff" may be (Cabbage Patch dolls or Talking Elmo or Burping Barby), I rejoice that even in the Godless commercial world, the birth of the Saviour of the world, the Lord of life, is recognized and celebrated. Surely it gives the rest of us a chance to show the world something of the real meaning of Christmas, that the true "Spirit of Christmas" is the Spirit of God, even the Spirit of agape Love revealed to us in life of the babe born in Bethlehem.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Clear Message - Meyer

I was sitting in church today, singing songs that were written 200 or even 400+ years ago, mouthing words like, “hark, thine, oxen, ass, whither, leadeth” and wondering how much our choice of songs has hindered the spread of the Gospel in our century.
If we continue week after week in our churches to sing songs that were written centuries ago, how does this influence our word choice when we talk about God?

As we are all well aware, Jesus did not speak in King James English. He spoke in the common language of the ordinary people of his day… ordinary everyday people like shepherds and fishermen.

Why do we as followers of Jesus, hold so tightly to words and phrases and songs that create misunderstanding, confusion and lack of comprehension of the simple Gospel truth that Jesus taught?

Martin Luther would no doubt be horrified that we are still singing the songs that he wrote for the common people of his day! If he were alive today, he might very well nail another Ninety-Five Theses on the walls of our “sanctuaries” in protest. His incredible stride forward to translate the Bible from Latin into modern German (modern for his day) seems a waste as we continue to read and study the Bible in a translation that is 500 years old.

John Wesley, a great hero of the faith, astounded the audiences of his day when he wrote songs for the common people in their everyday language. Now, we sing them over and over again even though they are no longer in the everyday language of the people in our century. They can only be appreciated by people who have: (a) studied Shakespeare extensively or (b) been “raised in the church.”

And it’s not as if we don’t have enough great musicians in our century! We have them in huge abundance and their music is more readily available to us than music has ever been to any other generation in human history.

At this time of the year, may I encourage you to have a listen to some of the wonderful Christmas music that is out there written in today’s languages by today’s musicians. And then let’s sing them together in our churches across the land. Let the Good News of Christmas be heard in the plain, simple language that it was first spoken!

Dorene Meyer

Author of Deep Waters, The Little Ones and Jasmine
Now in book stores across Canada
Distributed by Word Alive Press
Available online and as ebook on Amazon (key in title of book and publisher: Word Alive Press).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Gift of the Word and Words Ruth Smith Meyer

It’s fascinating how a small happening, a thought, the sight of something can start a chain of events or train of thought that leads to far greater significance than the original incident. This is true, especially if we allow ourselves to act on the impulses that pop up in our minds and hearts.
Just recently, at a time I needed a frank second opinion, I thought of a woman with whom I had a friendship several years ago. She was quite a bit older than me and at first acquaintance she had a rather gruff demeanor. Once I got to know her, I soon discovered she had a heart of gold. What I liked most was that she was honest and straight-forward with her opinions and extremely kind. Just thinking of her made me wish I could sit down and have a good long, heart-to-heart talk with her. I knew she would have told me how she sees it whether it was what I wanted to hear or not. There’s a certain comfort in that. Unfortunately, she died some years ago.
This past week as I sat behind a table of my books at a craft sale, I spied her only daughter surveying the variety of crafts. When she came closer, loneliness for her mother washed over me again. By that time she was close enough, and without giving it a second thought, I called her name. Her face lit up in recognition and she came close.
“Barb, I just wanted to tell you how much I still miss your mother. I often wish I could sit down and have a good chat with her. She meant so much to me.”
Barb’s big brown eyes softened. “Why thank you so much for telling me that! I miss her too, but sometimes I get to wondering if I’m the only one who does. Thanks for giving me that gift.”
The rest of the afternoon, between talking to customers, my mind raced on. My heart was filled with gladness that I acted on the impulse to tell Barb about what I was feeling. I like to think that she may remember my words in the coming weeks and feel warmth in the knowing. But my thoughts didn’t stop there.
At this time of year, most of us are also pondering about gifts. Some gifts lists are larger than others, some budgets are carefully set out and adhered to, some are overspent so that payment almost until next Christmas. Some are tired of the rat race of making sure they give a gift to everyone who will give them one. However there are those who love choosing meaningful gifts for their loved ones and who also delight in giving to those who can’t return the favor, finding ways to give that won’t make the recipient feel beholden to the giver.
Many of you reading this are authors or at least people who find words are life and joy. We know that words can bring comfort, enlightenment, inspiration, growth and much more.
What if we used our word-power as gifts this year? Start with your family. Use some nice stationery and write each of them a note telling them the unique, individual reasons you love them and what you wish for them. (Not material things, but strengths, growth, love, understanding—the things that make life worthwhile.)
Move on to other relatives, your friends and co-workers, people with whom you serve on committees, people at church, your boss. If you are the boss, think what it would mean to your employees to know what strengths, what characteristics of theirs are important to you and to your business and how much you appreciate them.
When I told my son about the ideas that were flitting around in my head since my talk with Barb, he just illustrated from his life what I wanted to say. In his business they had a large project this past year. It took a lot of hard work, commitment and cooperation from both his organization and the supply company to get everything up and running. Ninety people were involved in seeing it to completion. He has just finished hand-written notes of appreciation to each of those which he will deliver in person. The words in those notes, coming straight from his heart, are sure to make a difference in 90 lives. Yours and mine will too—changing our world one encouraging word at a time.
Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The Word becoming flesh, giving life and light, changing the world! As writers who are Christian, we also hold that Word in our hearts and it’s ours to give along with our words of recognition and affirmation.
“We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” 1 John 1:4

My Story, His Story - Rose McCormick Brandon

In 2001 tech stock values plummeted. Soon afterward terrorists struck the twin towers in New York City. These two events devastated the financial sector. The previous year my husband’s investment business had become successful enough for me to leave my position in a small church office. But before I could ponder what to do with my free time, consequences from these incidents threatened our income and I decided to re-enter the workforce.

I checked an on-line job board and found a government-funded organization that needed a part-time administrative assistant. Able to type a minimum of 75 words per minute the ad read. In my resume I felt tempted to state - not only can I type more than 75 wpm, I can do it while talking, eating, feeding babies and answering the phone. After tests and interviews I was hired.

That’s how I met Anne.

During our second week working together, Anne confided that her son, away at university, had contracted an illness that doctors were unable to diagnose. Through tears she said, “He’s so sick he can’t attend classes and he’s afraid he won’t graduate. I worry about him day and night.”

“Would you like my friends and me to pray for him? We have a Bible study at our house this week.”

“Your friends don’t know me or my son. Do you think they would mind praying for him?”

I assured Anne that we often prayed for people we didn’t know. Our small group prayed for Anne’s son and soon after his health improved. He graduated university and went to teacher’s college. His recovery amazed Anne and she felt no qualms about sharing her miracle with our co-workers. Once, as I entered a meeting room, I heard Anne announce to staff that my prayers had healed her son. Several co-workers seated at the table said how happy they were for Anne and that they too believed in prayer.

One morning Anne came to my desk and said, “I want you to know that God brought you into my life.” World events in far away places had caused my path to intersect with Anne’s. Behind our disappointments and the seemingly random happenings in our lives God is writing His story. That He chooses to write His divine story within my ordinary life amazes me.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 (TLB)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fight Card: Jane Harris Zsovan vs. It Couldn’t Happen Here - O'Leary

When social Darwinism hit Alberta, some of the episodes could have come from a sci-fi novel about human breeding programs. That’s what we learn from member Jane Harris Zsovan’s new book, Eugenics and the Firewall: Canada’s nasty little secret. The nasty little secret is out, it seems, and the firewall has been breached.

(Photo captions: Jane Harris Zsovan, left; Denyse O'Leary, right)

Eugenics (killing or sterilizing people to improve the human breeding stock) is not new. It happened in the United States too, and was much worse in Africa. But many are surprised to know it happened in Canada.

Lethbridge-based Harris-Zsovan pored over a mountain of yellowed newspaper clippings at the nearby Galt Museum’s archives, among other things, to ferret out the details of the story.

One is struck by two things: the intensity of Alberta’s sterilization program, and the fact that prominent evangelicals were involved. That could be one reason why the story is not often told ...

I was heartened by Harris Zsovan’s book, because it is a primary contribution to public awareness of the huge breach of our traditional ethics that eugenic sterilization entailed. And it pulls no punches. Most books on current social history coming out of the Christian community are jeremiads, scholarly reflections, defenses of Christ or Christians, etc. Good and useful, to be sure, but working with others’ facts. Without gathering our own facts, we are at the mercy of those who withhold some critical ones. That certainly happened in this case.

The duty roster put me down for blogging today and, alas, I’m only part way through Firewall. But, given that I have already learned that “Bible So-and-So’s” removed the need for consent for sterilization, the book sure won’t get less interesting.

This for now: In my view, as a community, we tend to either avoid issues or adopt someone else’s voice when talking about them. For example, too many Christian projects for the relief of poverty morph into socialism - the comforting arms of Big Government replaces the comforting arms of a Christian community. But that problem is related to the problem I opened with - a problem that Harris Zsovan ably avoids - we don’t do enough of our own research, so we can’t grow our own vision.

The Alberta Christian support for forced sterilization is a case in point: Why on earth did anyone think that social Darwinism was a reasonable fit with Christianity? It can’t be, and the original social Darwinists were hostile to Christianity for precisely that reason. But, of course, some social Darwinists ingratiated themselves with Christians to gain influence for their policies.

Generally, Christians depended on social Darwinists to do the primary research about the lives of the poor, and then reacted to their carefully staged* horror stories out of sentiment and zeal rather than information and reflection.

Well, congratulations to Jane for a long step in the right direction for all of us.

carefully staged* horror stories?: In the famous American Buck v. Bell case, the early teen girl who was sterilized was labelled an imbecile by a famous Supreme Court judge. But the evidence is mixed, at best. Let’s just say that the social Darwinists needed an imbecile, or someone to stand in for one, to get the court judgment that later resulted in 60 000 such sterilizations.

Here’s an excerpt from Firewall. Order here.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain, and the author of By Design or by Chance?.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Carrying the Jewelry - Eleanor Shepherd

Sometimes I wonder why God made me different. After all, how many people do you know that get excited about something they read in the dry parts of the book of Exodus? I had already read the exciting chapters that recount the plagues and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Now, I was reading the part with all the instructions for the priests and the minute directions about what they were to do and how. This included precise details for the making of the clothes they were to wear when they entered God’s presence.

As I read, my heart leapt with joy when I read some words in Chapter 28. Verses 11 and 12 said, “Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the LORD.

I could see the picture it in my mind. There was Aaron with measured tread stepping through the curtain into the most sacred place. As he entered into God’s holy presence, he carried on his shoulders these beautiful gemstones, set in gold filigree. They must have been huge because on them were engraved names, six on each stone. There were Reuben, Simeon, Levi…Zebulun, Issachar and Naphtali. They were all there and these were not short names. Each of the sons of Israel was included. What excited me was that for me, this was a picture of intercession.

Every morning when I enter God’s holy presence with the names of all those whose concerns I want to bring to Him, it is like I am bringing Him something exquisitely beautiful. I imagine those names being written on precious stones because each of these individuals is infinitely valuable to the Lord. What a privilege is mine to quietly carry them like I am wearing extremely expensive jewelry as I step into the Lord’s presence!

As I read further in the chapter, I discovered a couple of other things in this picture. Aaron was not carrying these precious stones in his hands. Rather he was wearing them on his shoulders. That left his hands empty to receive whatever Jehovah chose to place in them.

When I come into God’s presence to pray, He does not need me to come with the answers that I think are appropriate for my prayers. He will place in my empty hands, anything that He might have me do to help to bring about the answers to those prayers. It is a good idea to keep a pen and paper handy when we pray. Often we will have a nudge to call this person, or e-mail that one or do something that we would never dream of doing. The Spirit places in our empty hands what He can use to answer our prayers.

Not only were these precious engraved stones sewn into the beautiful robe that Aaron wore as He entered into the special place of God’s holy presence. The same chapter says that he also was to carry in what must have been some kind of pockets in the attire he was to wear. It says in verse 30 of Exodus 28 that into the breastpiece of judgment he was to put two other stones called the Urim and Thummim. These stones were somehow used to determine the response of God to questions of judgment. They were indications of his yes or no.

What this says to me is that we are not to make judgments about those for whom we pray. We bring them into His holy presence where He will make the judgments. We have nothing to say about it. He alone determines what is appropriate for them and we must leave Him to do that. What He wants from us is to bring them to Him, so that any judgments that must be made will be made in His loving presence. He alone will determine the yes and the no for them. It is never up to us.

The final encouragement I found in this picture of intercession is that the idea comes so early in the story of humanity’s relationship with the Eternal. I always thought real intercession began with Jesus, although clearly there are other pictures of such prayer in the Old Testament. This is far back in our history, many years before Jesus appeared on earth. Already God is introducing us to intercession. He knows that we will need to bring one another into His presence. He is aware of the frailness of our faith even at its best, and He knows the way we need the prayerful support of one another to walk in His ways and to trust Him. What an awesome God!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lady Autumn

Several weeks ago I was musing on the terms fall and autumn and decided to write about them for my column that week. And now, before we leave this season and the month of November behind, I’ll share a modified version of it with you.

During my decades in this great country of Canada I became accustomed to the use of the word fall in relation to the period from September through November. But why should I have become accustomed to this term, considering I lived many years in the northern temperate clime of the UK? Does that country not also have deciduous trees that drop their leaves?
In answer to that latter question – yes it does. During my boyhood in the UK I had enjoyable experiences of fall weather and of gathering, pressing, and scrap-booking colourful fallen leaves. Now to the question about my becoming accustomed to the term, fall. Although I knew that term was in use, autumn was the expression I heard most often in the parts of England and Scotland where I lived.
Autumn was probably my mom’s favourite season, and I think it’s mine. I recall her sweet voice sounding that word with delight in her very English accent – “autumn.” In England our family walked about two miles (approximately 3 kilometres) to church (we didn’t have a car). We’d go to the end of our avenue, turn left, pass several stores, cross the road, and head down through the old village, past the parish church and graveyard, to our church.
En route, by the wayside, I’ve swished through fallen leaves, marvelled at nature’s hooked wonders – brown teasle heads – towering over green-beige grasses, and admired gold and purple wild flowers complementing each other. I’ve caught a whiff of burning brushwood and enjoyed visions of arriving home to fireside warmth and hot chocolate after our return walk in the frosty air.

Autumn. See it. Smell it. Taste it . . . Pies – pumpkin, apple and cinnamon, and fieldberry. Hmm. Ah, yes, Lady Autumn is an inspirer of poets and songwriters with her distinctive features of colourful scenes, aromas, and moderating climate. Autumn. Hear it. After many decades, the Mercer / Kosma song, “Autumn Leaves,” remains a favourite, and evokes a yearning for a departed or distant love.

Lady Autumn leads some of us towards reflection and wistfulness – a yearning sense that one is close to entering the final portion of the year; that whatever dreams we cherished when the year began but which have not as yet been fulfilled, may remain that way, unless . . . unless . . .
Hope remains. This wistful yearning is not limited, however, to the duration of a mere season of one year, but is also culturally applied to our senior years – our “Golden Years,” the “Autumn-tide of Life.”

It is a time for realising that however lovely life may happen to be amidst the familiar scenes of our present existence, our springtime is now far behind us. We’ve enjoyed the summer time of growth and expended much time and energy – many of us raising children and preparing them for their future. Even now, we may still have some green, but we’re beginning to fade at the edges. Our spirits may be quite bright, and we feel that we’re “not done yet.” Our personalities begin to show some interesting colours – alias, quirks – that might embarrass our families!

We’re preparing to vacate the tree, and may be given a few years – perhaps decades, yet our time here is limited. To change the metaphor: like a marathon runner, we’re rounding the last bend for the final stretch of the road. Let us run it well.
Here’s a thought inspired by these wistful musings today: The one who walks with God runs a great race.
Lady Autumn encourages me to walk with God through the Golden Years.

© Peter A. Black – Original edition published in The Watford Guide-Advocate – November 4, 2010.
Peter is a freelance writer living in Southwestern Ontario.

He is the author of "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press), and writes a weekly column in The Watford-Guide Advocate.

~Mildly educational
~Inspirationally oriented
~Character reinforcing

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Older Novelists - Linda Hall

Did you know that the average age for a NY Times bestselling author is 50? At age 85, Agatha Christie had a best selling mystery, and recently deceased Belva Plain didn’t top the list until she was 59. It takes a bit of ‘living’ in the raw cauldron of life to sit down at the computer and compose a novel.

It could be similar to this analogy: When I was in my twenties I knew everything there was to know about God. I knew what God would do in all circumstances and in every situation. My world view - like the world perspective of many young people - was black and white. As I have grown, my world includes many more shades of gray. God has become more of a mystery. Choices are not so black and white. I continually teeter on that knife edge of faith and doubt. And, that ‘knife edge’ is where I set my novels. I’ve lived some. 'Been there, done that. I’ve been in that cauldron.

“Grey listing” has been in the news recently - job discrimination against older people.We are told it occurs in the movies, the music industry and news anchor people, unless you're a man. (Lloyd Robertson comes to mind.)

But is this same bias there in fiction where novelists are not so 'out there'?

When author Randy Ingermanson of was asked about this he responded by saying: “In the world of novel writing, there may possibly be an age bias, but it’s really the least of your worries. Your main worry with fiction writing is “craft bias.” Agents and editors are massively biased against poor craft. They are massively biased in favor of excellent craft.”

And, Ron Benrey in the excellent website/community, writes: "We think a better response is to make gray listing 'unprofitable.' This means that authors of a certain age must write better manuscripts than their younger colleagues. Simply put, late-blooming novelists need to produce novels that scream to be published — novels that make the ages of their author irrelevant."

I don't know about you, but I find that advice gratifying.

If you wish to pursue this, here are a few links you might enjoy reading, or do a Google search on the subject.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Christmas Family Dinner - MANN

I've been thinking about the ‘Family Christmas Dinner' and wondering whose family I am wanting to sit at my table. And possibly even more importantly, whose family am I disregarding when I say the Family Dinner? Am I assuming that everybody who is connected in any way is my family? That’s right, and it is reality when we announce “‘how the family is growing with each baby and in-law”. But, whose family? Mine? . . . Ours? Either mine or my spouse’s parents? Where does the family begin? Always with the living? You might be asking, “Why on earth would I be questioning the age old tradition of the Christmas Family Dinner?”

After reading some blogs about the use of the word 'family' at Christmas time, I'm wondering if I call this, The MANN Family Christmas Dinner, or if I use the term 'having the family all home for Christmas'. By using this familiar term, am I missing the point that each one of my children has his or her own family? And, am I assuming that 'my family' can be their family with sons/daughters-in-laws/grandchildren & spouses/friends, or anybody who wants to come without definition? Am I trying to forget that there is a network of families within 'my' family that I'm not giving equal recognition with the use of the ownership 'my' word?

I have to admit I still like to have ‘my’ family around the table and draw the circle wide to include their families and anybody else who might want to come. That's nice, but is there another way of acknowledging that my kid's families may be different than what I'm really meaning. I gaze around the table with great pride, but with some caution, as I think 'my' family and everybody else’s is somehow a tribute to me? Something rings untrue about that.

Granted, our adult children may not know what it’s like to be 70 plus years old and want their family around their knees. But, the echo of this holds a hint that I may want to turn time back which doesn’t work well. All generations strive to find a balance in this for all ages. After all, we all claim a piece of ‘the family’, and so it should. Adult kids want to celebrate 'their' family; I know that to be true from sitting around their tables. And, I'm coming to realize, even though they like to get together with their siblings, in a busy world they probably want to do that in their own time. Is this the reason why the Christmas Breakaway 'Empty Nest' travel opportunities are huge?

We’re going to have ‘the family’ for Christmas very early in the season this year for whomever can come and then maybe we’ll do a fly-around without the sleigh and reindeers on Christmas Day and be a part of ‘the family’. . . at their house.

Donna Mann
Aggie's Storms (2007)
Aggie's Dream launched fall of 2010
Meadowlane MP3 Kid's Farm Stories

Monday, November 15, 2010

Say No to the Status Quo -HIRD

By Rev Ed Hird

Our family worked for the Woodwards Department Store for many years. My mother met my father through a Woodwards dance put on for the Air Force servicemen. My sister worked for Woodwards. For one month, I worked for Woodwards at age 17 in Women’s Shoes. I had no idea how complicated it was to find all those hundreds of shoes hidden on massive shelves in the back of the store.

For many years, Woodwards in Oakridge was our favorite walking destination. My mother and grandmother loved Woodwards’ famous $1.49 Day sales to which massive crowds would always flock. Woodwards to me was an unshakable permanent institution that had always been there, and would always be there. It was as Canadian as hockey and maple syrup. Woodwards had been there for one hundred years since Charles Woodwards founded it in 1892. Then suddenly one day it was gone. It had been swallowed by its conforming to the status quo.

In Seth Godin’s bestselling book Tribes, he comments that the organizations that need innovation the most are the ones that do the most to stop it from happening. It is very easy to get stuck, to embrace the status quo, and hunker down. Godin says that this will result in our implosion. Organizations with a future must be willing to be risk-takers, to embrace creativity and innovation.

Godin says that it is not fear of failure that cripples leaders. It is the fear of criticism. No one likes to be publicly criticized. 21st-century leaders need to be willing to get out of the boat and pay the price of going first. In my thirty years as an Anglican clergy, I have sometimes wondered whether I acted too early. At other times, I have been concerned that I was not moving fast enough. Leaders have to be very sensitive to the still small voice. Timing is everything in leadership. We don’t want to rush ahead of God, nor do we want to lag behind.

Godin says that “the largest enemy of change and leadership isn’t a ‘no’. It’s a ‘not yet’. ‘Not yet’ is the safest, easiest way to forestall change. ‘Not yet’ gives the status quo a chance to regroup and put off the inevitable for just a little while longer. Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late….There’s a small price for being too early, but a huge penalty for being too late.” There have been times in my life when the boat almost left and I was not on it. There was a time in North Vancouver when I had to make a tough decision that I personally hoped would just go away. I was stuck in the ‘not yets’. One of my friends sensed this and challenged me to not be a ‘maybe Ed’. When the time came eight and a half years ago, God gave me the courage to push through my ‘not yets’ and my ‘maybes’. The rest is history.

Seth Godin teaches that every tribe needs leaders. Managers make widgets and create bureaucracies and factories. Leaders have followers and make change. The secret of leadership according to Godin is simple: “Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there.” One of my most palpable fears as a teenager is that I would end up stuck in a job that I would hate and have no way out of. In my thirty years as a clergyperson, I have often felt overwhelmed and inadequate for the task, but I have never regretted devoting my life to serving others as an Anglican priest.

As the leader of St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, I have seen many changes and challenges over the past 23 years. One of the reasons I am still at St. Simon’s NV is because of the climate of innovation built into its DNA. Our lay leaders are passionate, committed, and sold out to Jesus Christ. I admire deeply their willingness to risk all in order to be faithful to their mission and calling. Seth Godin says that ‘The safer you are with your plans for the future, the riskier it actually is.” Leadership is a choice: a choice to risk all to be faithful to the vision of a better future. The very nature of leadership, says Godin, is that you’re not doing what’s been done before.

We live in a culture that worships size, buildings and money. Many of the Woodwards of yesterday have become the dinosaurs of today. No organization is immune, no matter what its numbers, facilities or financial resources. If we refuse to innovate, we choose to die. Remarkable visions and genuine insights, says Godin, are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. The forces for mediocrity will align to stop you. Never give up.

Criticizing hope, says Godin, is easy. Fearful bureaucrats can always say that they’ve done it before and it didn’t work. But cynicism is a dead-end strategy. Without hope, there is no future to work for. Godin observes that without passion and commitment, nothing happens. So often no one in an organization really cares; no one deeply believes in the bigger vision. No one is willing to sacrifice so that breakthroughs can happen. Real leaders are willing to pay the price. Real leaders are willing to risk all for the greater good. Real leaders care. I challenge each of us reading this article to come up to the plate and choose to be a real leader. Say no to the status quo.

Reverend Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
-an article for the December 2010 Deep Cove Crier
-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada
You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

How are you today? I imagine you are tired after yesterday. Remembrance Day was different for you this year wasn't it? I must admit not having to make that long trek to London, was a little easier on me, too.

I know you usually like that time at the London cenotaph standing - remembering and reminiscing with your Royal Marine buddies and with the thousands of onlookers, and hundreds of parade participants filling the downtown area to capacity.

But like you said, most of 'the boys' won't be there this year, neither would Malcolm, your good friend. Not to mention the two hour trip to London was likely not a good idea after your six hour ordeal in emergency last Sunday.

So, I think you made the right decision, Dad. And we are all so thankful that you didn't just decide to stay home. When you said you would go to the school and speak with the boys and girls you made a lot of people happy. The children adored you and wasn't it funny how the questions escalated from kindergarten to grade one and then with the grade three and four classes?

I know you were particularly touched by that picture. The one that the young boy (who knew he would be absent) drew for you. You pointed out the busyness of the page and then the most touching part of the picture was that solitary flower that had the word LOVE written on it with large letters.
I appreciated the tear you shed when you told me "that's why we did it."
You and "your boys" did it for love. You fought and went into battle because of how much you loved and cared about others and your country. You found out pretty quickly that the glamour of war was not to be. But you persisted. You listened and obeyed. And you stood up and fought for what you believed in. You loved Mom. You loved your new life with her. You loved the thought that one day you would be a father.

I also wanted to thank you for holding my hand as we remained silent during the two minutes of silence - remembering together. My remembering must have been so different than yours. I know you rarely talk about what happened when you served overseas. I understand. Your private thoughts are between you and God. He hears our groanings and attends to our souls. I hope you felt His presence. I know I sure did.
In my moments of silence I did my best to keep my thoughts captive and to think about all the brave men and women who died in the line of duty, serving their country in so many ways. But most of all I gave thanks for you, Dad. I thought of Mom and remembered how much I miss her. Do you remember when I squeezed your hand during the silence? That was when I was thinking how proud I was of you. I gave thanks to God that you, my 84 year old Daddy, are still alive and that you once again, gave of yourself as you visited and shared with those wonderful, students yesterday morning.

Lest we forget, Dad. We will remember them. We WILL remember them. I love you Dad. Glynis xxx P.S. I hope you like the the few photographs I sent along?

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