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Minister's Update

December 2018 Letter

  • 30 November 2018
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

 

Special occasions…

I don’t know what your family is like, but for my family it’s really important to always take a photo of a special occasion. But dearie me – to get everybody in, looking at the camera and smiling at the same time is almost as difficult as climbing Mount Everest! But it’s definitely worth it – because every time we look back at the photo’s it brings back special memories.

Two such special occasions are just around the corner now – Christmas and New Year. And everywhere I look I see pictures of “perfect” families – standing in front of the fire place, all wearing their Christmas jumpers or Santa hats, beaming from ear to ear – although I know from personal experience that that photo posted on Facebook is probably the 10th photo they had to take! Because real life is never as perfect as you would like others to believe.

They didn’t have cameras way back when Jesus was born – but can you imagine what it would be like if they had? Our theme this Christmas at our churches is “Picture Perfect”. Please come along and celebrate this most special occasion with me at all the different services and events on our calendar for December.

We might not be perfect – but let’s give the world a picture of how Christmas should be celebrated this year.

May you all have a blessed Christmas and a very special 2019!

Nanda

 

 

November 2018 Letter

  • 31 October 2018
  • nanda.groenewald

Greater love has no one than thisthan to lay down one's life for his friends”
(John 15:13).

Dear Congregations

This year we mark the centenary of the end of World War I. On Armistice-Remembrance Sunday on 11th November 2018, people in our communities and around the Commonwealth will be reflecting on the lives that were changed irrevocably, and those that were lost.

Some 65 million men were mobilised across Europe during World War I. Nearly a third of them – some 21 million were wounded. Another 8.5 million were killed and some 7.7 million were taken prisoners of war. All of them had family and friends whose lives were changed forever by the events of 1914-1918.

My great grandfather, 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders, died of wounds sustained in battle and is buried in a Commonwealth grave in the city of Gent, Belgium. Over the years members of my family have made the journey to see his grave and take time to reflect on his life that was and could have been. My great grandmother was given an opportunity to write an inscription for the head stone – she wrote this:  ‘We loved you, but God loved you more’. As part of our journeys we have also visited the many graveyards and memorials throughout Flanders and beyond. Rows and rows of gravestones in every corner and street in all the villages and towns and the many fields dressed in white headstones, too many to count. The horror and sacrifice of war displayed for all the world to see, yet there is a stillness and peacefulness which envelopes your inner being as you take in what is around you.

During this season of remembrance, and particularly on Armistice Day - Remembrance Sunday, we thank God for the freedoms we now enjoy because of those, who in both World Wars and subsequent conflicts, laid down their lives for our nation and the Commonwealth.

It is important to note that throughout all of those conflicts, our sailors, soldiers and airmen and women have had access to the Bible, having been presented with copies prior to deployment. Over the years, many have testified to the comfort the Scriptures have brought to their lives, while others testify to transformed lives through reading the Bible.

In the New Testament, remembrance is centred on the greatest of all sacrifices that of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ

He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’. And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood’.  Let us never forget His ultimate sacrifice.

The holiness of God that transforms the world from brokenness to wholeness does so by healing. This is the basis for our hope. Peace is not something that you wish for. It is something that you make, something that you do, something that you are, something that you give away. The memories we recall this Remembrance Sunday should spur us forward in search for true harmony and peace throughout the world.

Shalom

Alison

October 2018 Letter

  • 7 October 2018
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear congregations

We have a huge chestnut tree in our front garden. Last week all the leaves were still lush and green, today they are almost all yellow… Beautiful to look at, but also a sign that the seasons are changing. After the amazing summer we’ve had, I guess we shouldn’t complain that autumn is here – a wee warning that the winter is slowly creeping up on us.

Time goes by so quickly. When I tidied up my study this week, I came across a photo of my boys taken 3 years ago. And that sent me on a wee trip down memory lane… They look so grown up now, all of a sudden! How did that happen?!

Since the new school year started I’ve been privileged to be part of so many happy events, and I’ve also cried alongside others: I’ve conducted weddings and baptisms, I’ve done hospital visits and conducted funerals… Life is so short – we should really make the most of every minute we have.

So as the seasons are changing outside, let’s remember that as the seasons of our lives change too, we should always cherish the season we find ourselves in. There is beauty in every single one of them – blossoming flowers in the spring, vibrant greens in the summer, warm colours in the autumn, and the pure white snow in the winter. Wherever you find yourself now in your journey through life, remember the words we find in Ecclesiastes 3:11: God has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time…

May God bless you all this autumn, and always.

Nanda

September 2018 Letter

  • 3 September 2018
  • nanda.groenewald

 

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 the apostle Paul said that he had a “thorn in his flesh”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Paul could well have meant this metaphorically, but let me tell you – after our holiday in South Africa, I think I understand a wee bit better what Paul meant – namely that something was hurting him badly!

You see, while in South Africa, poor wee Nehan fell full force into a huge thorn that sucks into your flesh. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The thorn was stuck in his hand… He tried pulling it out himself, then big brother Henro had a shot, and even daddy André tried his best – but to no avail. And through all of this the screaming just got louder and louder. When I saw the agony on Nehan’s  face, I just knew I had to get that thorn out – so I bit on my teeth…and I pulled it out! But by this time his whole hand was swollen and red and very painful, even without the thorn in it. The poor child couldn’t use his hand for 2 days!

But luckily, being just the way kids are, before long something else happened that was exciting, and the thorn was quickly forgotten. After all this, my boys decided that “Africa is not for sissies”! It’s so nice to be back home here in Scotland, where if your child falls, the only thing your need to get rid of is the mud on his hands and knees!

Nobody knows exactly what Paul was referring to when he spoke about “the thorn in his flesh”, but it must have been something that hurt him constantly.                                                                                                                                                                                   Only difference is, THIS thorn was never going to be pulled out by anybody…

So Paul decided that if he couldn’t change his situation, he’d just have to change his attitude. Which made him decide to delight in his weaknesses, because then, he said, he’d remember that in himself he can do nothing, -  he is utterly dependent on the grace of Christ.

May we all have that very same attitude in this new academic year – if we have any thorns in our flesh that we CAN pull out – let’s do that straight away, and leave the past in the past. But if there are things in our lives that bother us that we cannot change – let’s accept it, let’s even delight in it, because if we have Christ in our lives, in the words of Paul: “When we are weak, THEN we are strong.”

May God bless you all in 2018/2019,

Nanda

 

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