March 10, 2012
Once every year, billions of people around the world pause to remember the mystery of Easter. Most people love Easter: bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing. In the air, you can sense victory and resurrection and new life. No wonder that churches have many visitors on Easter Sunday.
For sixty-six years, the St. Simon’s NV family has been celebrating Easter. I have always enjoyed Easter, especially for the chocolate. Just like Christmas, Easter has its food connection and its spiritual connection. Most people love to eat. Easter family gatherings invariably involve lots of delicious food, especially those wonderful hot cross buns.
Good Friday is a traditional fast day where many choose not to eat in order to remember Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Easter Sunday is a traditional feast day where families celebrate with delicious feasts. Without Good Friday, Easter Sunday makes no sense. Without Easter Sunday, Good Friday is just a terrible tragedy. Good Friday shows that God can turn everything that is against us to our advantage. God transformed Good Friday (the most evil day in history) into Easter Sunday (the most beautiful day in history).
Many of us steer clear of Good Friday because it reminds us of death, of pain, and of our own personal mortality. Sometimes we may question: what on earth is Good about Good Friday? What’s so good about someone going through the worst suffering and most excruciating death ever imagined? Good Friday seems too morbid, too deadly, too bloody.
Modern medical science is wonderful in the way that it can prolong life that would often otherwise be over. But medicine can only postpone the inevitable facing all of us. We are mortals here on earth. In my mid-teen period, I lost sight of the power of Easter, and concluded that there was no life after death. Death was final, and that was the end of it. Nothing was waiting for me but the grave. What was it all about, I wondered? Was life really worth the effort? I began to fear the power of death and the meaninglessness and emptiness of life. I even secretly wondered if life itself was worth living.
In the midst of my teenage self-doubt, I still loved Easter, but I didn’t get it. The flowers, the food, the fun and even Easter worship were enjoyable, but somehow I missed the message. It is funny how you can celebrate something that you grow up with, and yet the real meaning can be missed. When the penny finally dropped, when the light came on, it was like waking up from the dead. I finally understood that Jesus solved the unsolvable death problem, and that by faith in him, the future is bright and unstoppable.
My prayer for those of you who love the Easter season is that you may realize that at the end of the day, love is stronger than death, and love has the final word.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector, BSW, MDiv, DMin
St Simon’s North Vancouver
Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)
-an article for the April 2012 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 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.
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September 5, 2009
By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
My wife and I recently celebrated our 33rd Wedding Anniversary. It amazes me to think that I have spent eleven years longer being married as I previously spent being single.
Reflecting on what makes a marriage work, I was struck by how vital is the gift of forgiveness. My wife, by the way, is very gifted at forgiving, probably because I have given her so much practice. My wife is also very patient and persevering, as I have noticed that often in our marriage, it has taken me a while to really grow and change. The fact that she never gives up on me, and that she keeps on believing the best for me, is a wonderful gift indeed.
A while back, I read a fascinating book entitled ‘Men & Women: Enjoying the Differences’ by the best-selling author Dr. Larry Crabb. He commented that ‘self-centered living is the real culprit in marriages with problems. Other-centered living is the answer.’
Many of us enter marriage thinking that our spouse will meet our deepest needs. We then feel cheated when they don’t, and begin to close our hearts. How many of us enter marriage with the view that we are there to serve our spouse? How many of us see marriage as a way of serving God?
A marriage where both partners are committed to serving one another, to ‘washing one another’s feet’ is a marriage in which self-centeredness gets sidelined. What will it take, says Dr. Crabb, to realize that our selfishness is without excuse and that our first job, in our friendships and marriages, is to recognize our selfishness and learn how we can change?
One thing that men and women have equally in common is that we are all equally self-centered and selfish. Little growth in marriages take place, says Dr. Crabb, until we realize that the disease of self-centeredness is fatal to our souls and marriages.
Nothing exposes our self-centeredness more clearly than anger. Because our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), we have an amazing ability to justify our own anger and bitterness towards our spouse, while simultaneously excusing our own bad attitudes. Being angry at our spouses can be very attractive, because it makes us feel both powerful and self-righteous.
Having counseled dozens of couples over the years, I am continually amazed at the self-deception of many who convince themselves that the problem is their spouse, and that their personal faults are far more minor and merely reactive. Self-centeredness is a cancer that blinds us from seeing that the problem is not merely our spouse; the problem is ourselves. Our culture is saturated with excuses for everything. It is not my fault. It’s my spouse’s, my parent’s, my government’s, or my boss’ fault. A.A. calls that ‘stinking thinking’.
Few of us are willing to do a thorough moral inventory of our own personal faults. The bible uses a short, unpopular word for self-centeredness. It calls it ‘sin’. Sin doesn’t mean that we are axe-murderers or child molesters. The heart of the word ‘sin’ is the ‘I’ at the middle. The heart of most marriage problems is self-centered sin.
Dr. E. Stanley Jones, founder of the Christian Ashram, once said that ‘there can be no love between a husband and wife unless there is mutual self-surrender. Love simply cannot spring up without that self-surrender to each other. If either withholds the self, love cannot exist.’
A man and his wife were having painful marriage difficulties. The wife went away to a Christian Ashram, and surrendered her marriage to the Lord. When she returned home, her husband said to her: ‘Well, Miss High and Mighty, what did you learn at the Ashram?’ She replied: ‘I’ve learned that I’ve been the cause of all our troubles.’ She got up from her chair, came around beside him and knelt, folded her hands and said: ‘Please forgive me. I’m the cause of all our troubles.’
At that moment, her husband nearly upset the kitchen table, while getting down on his knees beside her. He blurted out, ‘You’re not the cause of all our troubles — I am.’ There they met each other — and God. Each surrendered to Jesus, then they surrendered to each other and were free. Now this couple, instead of continually criticizing each other, are one in love and forgiveness.
My prayer for those reading this article is that many may find victory through surrender.