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June 2015 Letter

  • 2 June 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

This year I was commissioned to attend the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in the Assembly Halls in Edinburgh. What a privilege that was! As it was my first Assembly, I didn’t really know what to expect, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the long hours and attending a meeting that lasted a whole week! But to my surprise it was very interesting and relevant, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of the decision making process for the future of the church.

I was accompanied by George Stott from the West Kirk and Jessie Kelly from Polbeth Harwood, who also both enjoyed the experience very much. It was a full week, starting with a training session for first time commissioners on the Friday evening, and including lots of different events alongside the actual meeting. On the Sunday morning I attended the Assembly Service at St Giles Cathedral, and stayed on for the communion service afterwards. Sunday afternoon I went to “Heart and Soul” in Princes Street Gardens, a lovely event with lots of displays and activities, attended by about 4000 people.

During lunch time every day there were fringe events which you could attend if you wanted to. It was like a treasure chest full of information… One evening I attended a lecture on John Knox and his influence on the Church, and on another I was invited to Holyrood House Palace for a Beating of the Drums ceremony and a reception afterwards. On the last day of the assembly all the new ministers were invited to lunch with the new moderator, Rev Dr Angus Morrison, after which we were presented to him at the Assembly. What a humble and inspirational person he is!

Throughout the week I met lots of interesting people, listened to people competently debating about important issues, and worshipped God alongside more than 700 others. I loved the singing, and found the worship enriching. Everything was based on the theme “Living Stones” (1Peter 2:1-10).

I left the assembly feeling that I have learnt so much about the workings of the Church and all the different people who worship in the Church of Scotland.
I also felt motivated for working in our own congregations and I am proud to be able to say that I am a minister in the Church of Scotland -  a Church that takes her responsibility seriously as a beacon of hope and bringer of change in society.

My wish is that we will all realise that we have important responsibilities in the Church of God as his livings stones – we are all needed to keep this church standing for generations to come.
I regard myself as extremely fortunate to be a stone in the living Church of Christ.
I hope you do too!

God bless,

May 2015 Letter

  • 5 May 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

I hope you are all well. This month I can’t help but make my letter to the Link a letter of thanks…

The coffee morning that I hosted to raise funds for my brother’s medical expenses was an experience I will never forget! I feel completely overwhelmed by all the support I got… Thank you to every single person who attended the coffee morning, to everybody who donated baking and helped on the day, and to everybody who donated money, before, at, or after the coffee morning. The total raised now stands at a staggering £ 3610.35. How amazing is that?!

Apart from the money, it was wonderful to see so many people from the South African congregation, Kirknewton, East Calder, Polbeth Harwood and the West Kirk turning up to enjoy a lovely cuppa and cake.

Thank you so much for your generosity, help and support.  I cannot thank God enough for sending me here as your minister. Words cannot express my sincere thanks.

The pound goes a long way in South Africa, which means that the money raised will be able to pay for all the medical treatment my brother needs up to the end of January 2016. This is such a huge relief, for me and him. He asked me to convey his heartfelt thanks to everybody. Thank you also for your prayers.

To me this is an amazing example of Christians standing together to make a difference in the world. In Romans 1:8 the apostle Paul says: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.”

And that is exactly what I want to say: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” On Saturday 25 April 2015 your faith was shown in deeds of love and care, and this will be known not only here, but also in South Africa.

May God bless you.

Yours faithfully,

April 2015 Letter

  • 31 March 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Easter… A sad story – with a happy ending (Luke 22-24).

It’s not often that we can say that about things that happen in life. Most people think that it’s only in films where tragic situations turn into something good, where sad stories have happy endings. Real life doesn’t work like that.

And to a certain extent I agree – life here on earth very seldom reflect a boy-meets-girl and they lived happily ever after scenario. Life can sometimes be really hard. Sometimes we plan things and dream about things, and then it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes we are really happy, and then suddenly something happens that changes the course of our lives completely – like getting made redundant, or receiving a letter from the NHS saying that your test results didn’t come back clear, or losing somebody you love.

And very recently that happened to all of us when we unexpectedly lost out West Kirk Treasurer, Bill Calder. Bill made his mark in the community and the church, he made a big difference wherever he went, which resulted in a big hole being left within our church community now.

Apart from all the formal things Bill did for the church, the one thing I will always remember about him, is his beautiful singing voice. Sitting behind the communion table while celebrating Holy Communion without Bill sitting next to me will just never be the same again. Because for those two hymns, four times a year, I was actually able to sing in tune, because I could hear Bill singing next to me! And just like that I know that everybody will have their own memories of Bill… And of other people who are not here with us anymore.

It’s hard. Life is not a fairy-tale.

But… Easter happened. It really happened. That was not a film or a fairy-tale. Every gruesome detail of Jesus being mocked, whipped and then eventually dying on the cross, happened. And it happened for us. But the end of Jesus’ life wasn’t the end of the story, it really was the beginning. Because God rose him from the dead, so that all of us can live with God in all eternity.

And to be truthful – what more can we ask for? The years we have here on earth are a mere drop in the bucket in comparison to eternity.

In other words, if you believe in God, your story will always have a happy ending…

May you feel the presence of God in your life, in the easy and in the difficult times, this Easter, and forever.

Kinds regards, Nanda

March Letter

  • 4 March 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

February was our Stewardship month, where we focused on time. Now we find ourselves in Lent, the time we use to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ suffering, his death on the cross, and then ultimately his resurrection.

What does Lent mean for you?

To me it’s a time of walking in Jesus’ footsteps, of trying to imagine what He’s been through for me, for all of us…

On the way to Calvary the cross Jesus had to carry was too heavy for him, literally (Luke 23:26-43). The soldiers had to summon someone else to carry it for him. And I think that that was almost the least of his troubles! Because the emotional cross he had to bear – the realization that his own people didn’t understand his message, that they would rather see him die on a cross than change their lives, open their eyes and see the bigger picture –  that must have been much worse than trying to physically carry a heavy wooden cross with a broken body. That must have broken his heart.

Luckily Simon from Cyrene was there to carry Jesus’ cross up the hill for him. Simon was at the right place, at the right time. I am sure that it was all part of God’s plan. He still does it today. He sends people into our lives, on our paths, to be our Simons, helping us to carry our burdens through life. But He also sends us to be Simons for others, to help them carry their burdens.

The fact that we sometimes have to bear crosses, whether this be our own or that of others, shouldn’t ever make us feel hopeless, because although bearing that cross was really hard for Jesus to do, it was also the thing that led to our salvation.

May walking in Jesus’ footsteps this Lent help you to see your own life in perspective, and may God help you to realise that sometimes, even in carrying a cross there is a blessing.