An article for the January 1997 Deep Cove Crier
While taking in my wifeís car for work on her brakes, Cec Kerr and I had another one of our many chats as he drove me back to my house.  Driving down the Mount Seymour Parkway, Cec said to me: "Iíll dialed into Jerusalem the other day.  It was really beautiful.  I canít understand though why all these different religions are always fighting."  I said to Cec: "Well, have you ever heard the story about the new person who moved into a small Irish town in Northern Ireland?  The key leaders in the town went to this stranger and said: ĎWe want to know: Are you Protestant or Catholic?í  The stranger answered: ĎIím an atheistí.  The town leaders replied: Ď  Donít confuse us with religion. What we want to know is: Are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?í

Very often, so-called religious conflict has little to do with genuine faith and spirituality.  It has everything to do with local politics and power struggles.  Historically Jerusalem is one of those hot spots that has been destroyed by invading armies dozens of times over the centuries.  Being at the geographic crossroads of the middle East, Jerusalem has always seemed to be right in the way of the next Super-power on a rampage.  No wonder that the bible says: "Pray for the peace (shalom) of Jerusalem".  After receiving the WEB page from Cec for Jerusalem, I dialed in and was actually able to send an e-mail prayer which I am told will be placed in the cracks of the Jerusalem Wailing Wall.  This was my prayer: "I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the coming of the Messiah."

As we celebrate another New Year, I am reminded that we are only three years away from A.D. 2,000, the beginning of a whole New Millennium.  To me, the rapid expansion of the Internet world symbolizes the exciting and unknown next millennium.  Our world is shrinking and becoming more connected through ever-more startling advances in hi-tech telecommunications.  Yet at the same time, our society is becoming more fragmented and less connected.  Marriages and families are suffering from intense new levels of stress that are taking a serious toll on the well-being of our children.  More than ever, our society needs the Prince of Peace who landed on planet earth nearly 2,000 years ago.

The whole world counts time as Before Christ (B.C.) and A.D.  Yet many nowadays have no idea that A.D. means Anno Domini "In the year of the Lord."  There is something about that itinerant rabbi from Galilee that is very hard to ignore.  Time Magazine this month gave him front page coverage, with a lead article entitled: "Jesus On-line".  Time noted that God is still more popular than Bill Gates, even in this Microsoft-dominated culture.  Using Search Engines, Bill Gates received only 25,000 hits, in contrast to Godís 410,000 hits and Jesusí 146,000 hits.

Christianity's roots were small and humbleóan obscure rabbi preached and prayed for the sick for three and a half years around the countryside of subjugated Israel.  Yet today he has more than 1.8 billion professing believers in most of the nations on earth!  Napoleon said: "I search in vain in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel . . . nations pass away, thrones crumble, but the Church remains."

Perhaps in this New Year of 1997, Jesus can still be best portrayed in the anonymous poem entitled: One Solitary Life:  "He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.  He never wrote a book. He never held an office.  He never had a family or owned a home.  He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city.  He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born.

He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.  He had no credentials but Himself.  He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away.  One of them denied Him.
He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth.  When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race.  All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life."

The Rev. Ed Hird, St. Simonís Anglican Church

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St. Simon's Anglican Church 
North Vancouver, B.C.