April showers bring May flowers. Spring is a time when many romances begin, including my romance with my wife Janice. I am so grateful to have been married to Janice for almost thirty-six years. She is the love of my life and the joy of my heart.
When I was a teenager, I held the unoriginal view that marriage was just a piece of paper, a merely human sociological invention. Since coming to faith in 1972, I have been fascinated by the meaning of marriage. Reading Matthew 19: 6 (What God has joined together…), I was shocked to discover that God invented marriage. I remember sharing with my future wife on our first date in 1975 about my fascination with the theology of marriage. She found me somewhat overwhelming, and told me that she wasn’t ready to commit as she had just broken up with her fiancée.
While completing my Masters, I wrote an essay on the meaning of marriage, with a strong emphasis on the ‘one flesh’ covenant. I concluded the essay by writing our own marriage ceremony and inviting my professor Bill Adams to our wedding. Fortunately he liked the wedding and gave me a good mark. Thirty-six years later, Janice and I are co-leading Strengthening Marriage workshops and Strengthening Relationship groups. God-willing, I will be graduating on May 26th this year with a Doctor of Ministry, focusing on ‘Strengthening Marriages.’
Part of my North Shore ministry involves visiting extended care facilities where often one spouse has Alzheimer‘s disease and the other doesn’t. I have been so impressed by the love of one North Shore wife for her Alzheimer-afflicted husband who was a former university professor. Her covenantal love and honour for her husband is deeply rooted in his unshakable humanity, being made in God’s image.
A wedding is a celebration of a couple coming to the point where they are truly willing to become one flesh in body, mind and spirit. Marriage is far more than just a contract or a prenuptial agreement. Marriage is a covenant of faith and trust between a man and woman, a covenant grounded for Christians in their shared commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. At the heart of the concept of covenant is unconditional commitment. The hyper-individualism of our consumer culture is the acid rain of covenant love. The busyness and stress of our culture tends to swallow our best intentions even in marriage.
James Olthius, author of I Pledge You My Troth, teaches that marriage is troth, as in ‘I pledge you my troth’. This term, troth, as in betrothal, is an Old English term for truth, faithfulness, loyalty and honesty. At the heart of marriage troth is our pledge ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer , for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”
At the heart of spring romance for me is that assurance that my wife will stand with me through thick and thin, through good times and bad. Janice has my back and I have hers. My prayer for marriages in the Seymour/Deep Cove area is that God may give us back our first love for each other. May our covenant commitment be like precious gold.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
Valentine’s Day rolls around every year without fail. Husbands forget Feb 14th at their peril. Somehow our wives interpret our forgetting Valentine’s Day as a sign that we don’t care, that we may be putting other priorities like work and sports above them. So, husbands, be warned. Flowers are much cheaper than lawyers.
My wife and I moved to the North Shore twenty-four years ago as of Feb 1st 2011. Before that we celebrated four Valentines in Abbotsford, and six in Vancouver. As of May 21st 2011, we are celebrating our thirtieth-fourth wedding anniversary. I can tell you without any hesitation that I love my wife more now than I have ever loved her. To celebrate our 30th Anniversary, we flew to England to visit with our youngest son, serving then as a youth missionary in Newcastle. It is an amazing gift to be married to someone whom you really like to be with. My wife has been that gift to me. She has been so loyal in supporting our ministry at St. Simon’s North Vancouver in the past two+ decades. That is why I dedicated my book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’ “with gratitude to my dear wife who has been married to me for almost thirty years, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” You can imagine that it is not easy to be married to a clergyman, especially with the challenges that orthodox Anglicans have been facing in North America.
My wife serves as our St. Simon’s NV Music Director, co-ordinating several different choirs and contemporary worship bands. Archbishop David Somerville, who first ordained me, once said that if the devil ever gets into the church, he will come in through the choir. Because music is so closely connected to worship, it makes sense why music can easily be contentious. Sometimes people have worship wars over contemporary songs vs. traditional hymns. At St. Simon’s NV, we decided fifteen years ago to honour both expressions by offering both a traditional 9am BCP service and a contemporary 10:30am service. Because my dear wife is musically bilingual, she is able to encourage both expressions with integrity. Unlike many church choir directors who are always quitting and creating havoc, my dear wife has been a source of musical stability for the past two decades. Dynamic music is a key to a vibrant, healthy Church.
My wife and I went to Winston Churchill High School in Vancouver, both graduating thirty-nine years ago in 1972. But we only really noticed each other from a distance. We became friends while taking the bus home from the University of British Columbia. She was in Music naturally, and I was in Social Work, dreaming about becoming an Anglican priest. For around a year, we were only good friends. But eventually the penny dropped and I saw the light. My wife really impressed me with her great listening skills, her good sense of humour, and her hard work.
Finally one day in 1975, I invited her to go bike-riding to Little Mountain in Vancouver. The rest is history. Coming back from our second bike ride, I said to her, “Don’t take me too seriously, but relative to two days, I would like to spend the rest of my life with you.” For some reason, this shocked her. But she got over it, and we quickly moved to become engaged. When I introduced her to my mother, my mom said something that she had never said before: “The woman who marries Ed will need to have quarters for the bus”. What she meant is that while I have strong leadership giftings, I work best when I am complimented by someone with strong administrative giftings, who pays attention to the details.
In my first Valentine’s Day article for the Deep Cove Crier twenty-three years ago, I wrote: “Why do I still enjoy Valentines Day? It’s because all of us have a need to feel loved, even when you’re married. So often romantic love can fade imperceptibly from a marriage. In the busyness of children, work, school and sports, our marriage can easily get lost in the shuffle. Marriage Counselors tell us that romantic love is one of the greatest lacks in modern marriages. The bible reminds each husband to love his wife as his own body, to love his wife as he loves himself, to love his wife just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5).
Husbands, let’s surprise our wives on February 14th and make our family homes the most romantic spot on Planet Earth!” Thank God for twenty-four wonderful North Shore Valentines.
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 email@example.com . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99CDN/USD.