June 1, 2011
It is amazing what students can accomplish when they don’t know better.
The Sound of Light Worship Band inspired us to form our own Morning Star Band.
Our Morning Star band started in September 1975 and wrapped up in 1979/80 as we completed our Morning Star Album over an 18-month period. We went across the border for many sessions at the Gossett recording studio.
December 9, 2010
I love Christmas Carols. Even when I feel dead to everything else about Christmas, Christmas Carols seem to wake me up from within. Music has an amazing way to slip past even the most hardened heart.
Christmas is one of those traditions that won’t go away, and yet so often seems off kilter. It so often seems to lack purpose and focus. The John Grisham movie “Christmas with the Kranks” symbolizes the angst of people swallowed by Christmas-related paraphernalia. Christmas Carols are ideal for helping us regain focus at Christmas.
Randy Stonehill poignantly sang: “I wonder if this Christmas they’ll begin to understand that the Jesus that they celebrate is much more than a man…” The first purpose of Christmas is to bring pleasure to God, otherwise called Worship. That is why at Christmas so many of us love to sing: “O Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord”. For many years, Christmas to me was just about eating turkey and getting presents. Being dragged to church on Christmas Eve or even worse Christmas morning seemed like a serious intrusion into an otherwise good festival. As I have refocused on the real meaning of Christmas, I hear afresh the Christmas Carol singing: “O Come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, O come ye, o come ye to Bethehem”.
Year after year, Christmas miraculously brings friends and families back together. When I was younger, I enjoyed spending Christmas with my grandparents and family, but didn’t fully realize what a wonderful gift this was. The second purpose of Christmas, I have discovered, is fellowship. At the heart of lasting fellowship is great food, lots of fun, and deep listening. God put us here on earth to learn how to love each other. Christmas is a great time to do that. Christmas is a time when like shepherds summoned to his cradle, we leave our flocks and then flock together.
I never realized when I was young that Christmas was meant to transform me. Years later I discovered that all that joy at Christmas had a third purpose: to make me more like Christ, which is Discipleship. As that great Christmas Carol puts it, “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice! Now you need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!” There is a joy released at Christmas that can radically transform anyone’s life if we will let it. That is why the Good Book says that the Joy of the Lord is our strength.
Christmas for me as a young person was about getting bigger and better presents. Years later I have discovered that Christmas is really about giving. Giving is not just about presents, but mostly about our hearts. The fourth purpose of Christmas is about serving others, especially the poor. Good old Scrooge learnt this lesson the hard way at Christmas. As Good King Wenceslas put it, “Therefore Christian men be sure, wealth and rank possessing, ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.” We may not like the three wise men have gold, frankincense, and myrrh to give, but when we give from our heart, Christmas becomes real to another hurting person.
When I was younger, I thought that Christmas was about me. In fact, I have discovered that Christmas is about others. That is why the fifth purpose of Christmas is “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born”. Christmas is too good to keep it to ourselves. Christmas is the kind of fun and laughter and joy that everyone needs more of. Do you know anyone who needs cheering up? Do you know anyone who has lost direction? If you do, I encourage you to reach out and bring others this Christmas to a joyful Christmas Eve service near you.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Mission in the Americas (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 email@example.com . 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
December 4, 2009
Ever since Coca-Cola decided to promote Santa Claus as part of their soft drink campaign, Santa or St. Nicholas became a household name in North America. Santa is from the Dutch word for Saint. Claus is again a Dutch contraction for Nicholas.
Do you remember back when John Lennon said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ? Do you remember the controversy? John, of course, was right. The Beatles were for a while more popular and more central for millions. So too is Santa Claus bigger than the baby Jesus at Christmas. As a young boy, St. Nicholas for me was the heart of Christmas. The fact that my mother insisted on dragging me to church on Christmas seemed to me like a horrible religious intrusion into an otherwise good holiday.
When I was 5 years old, though, I became suspicious when Santa kept appearing at all the different shopping centres. I calculated that no reindeer could fly that fast and be in so many places at once. Once I shared my conclusions with my five year old friends, I was amazed that some of my friends’ mothers were not as excited about my “findings” as I was!
Many years later I was surprised to discover that “yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus” History tells us that there was a real, live Santa Claus or St. Nicholas in the country of Turkey during the early 4th Century. St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra. He was a very faithful Christian who endured terrible suffering and imprisonment during the great persecution by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 303 A.D.
During this time, many church buildings were destroyed, bibles were burnt, and priests were murdered. As a result of his faithful suffering, Nicholas ended up being made Saint, the Patron Saint of sailors, Russia, and children. His symbol became 3 bags of gold, the dowry he was supposed to have given to three girls to save them from embarrassment. That, of course, is the origin of Santa bringing presents at Christmas.
The musician Randy Stonehill wrote in a Christmas song that “I know that if St. Nicholas was here, he would agree that Jesus gave the greatest gift of all to you and me” It is quite clear that the real Santa Claus (Nicholas) loved Jesus very much, and was willing to suffer for his faith. I believe that if Santa Claus were here today, he would say “Don’t just leave Jesus in the Manger. Make room for Him in your heart, not only at Christmas, but all year round”
This Christmas may we all remember the words of that famous carol Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. “O Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today..”