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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.


February Letter

  • 1 February 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

As you all know, we went to South Africa for 3 weeks after Christmas.

One day, while we were on safari, we saw a huge anthill. My 2 boys didn’t know what it was and asked the ranger, who was kind enough to stop and explain: Anthills are where the ants live, and they build it all by themselves, using only ground and small pieces of material they can carry themselves, mixed with their saliva. And although ants are really small, this anthill was huge – as high as the vehicle we were driving in. Not even mentioning all the wee rooms and passages build under the ground we couldn’t see! So the ranger allowed the boys to get out of the vehicle quickly and touch the anthill. Then he told them to kick it. Not even a speck of dust fell off!! The anthill was as strong as a rock. Something that was built by tiny wee ants was too strong for a human (quite a bit bigger!) to break. It was almost unbelievable!

This just made me realize once again how amazing God is. He made the ants, and gave them the ability to build houses like that. In Psalm 95 we read: “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord… For the Lord is the great God… In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him… Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” God, who made the tiny ants, also made the huge big elephants, and He also made us. And just like He takes care of nature, He takes care of us too. He holds us in the hollow of his hand.

If God can make a tiny ant build a house that can’t even be kicked over by my 2 future football stars (!!), just imagine what He can do through you… May 2015 be a year full of amazing things for you.

God bless,

December Letter

  • 28 November 2014
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

My boys are busy writing their letters to Santa. They’re not ready to post it yet, just in case they think of something else they want to ad! And that got me thinking…

Letters have been an important part of life in the early Church too. The apostle Paul travelled from city to city to share the good news about Jesus Christ with the people, and as soon as he left a city he started writing them letters to answer questions they had and also to encourage them to stand strong in their new-found faith. Some of these letters are included in our New Testament.

In one of these letters, Philippians 4:4-7, Paul said: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!...Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all human understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul had to endure lots of trials and tribulations because he stood up for his faith. But he never once allowed anything to put him off from believing in God. So when he says that we can ask God anything we want, I take his word for it, because he is speaking from experience. Paul doesn’t say that God will always give you what you’ve asked for straight away, but that he will give you what you need. And if you have the courage to ask, the one thing you will most certainly get, is the peace of God. Because very often, that is all we really need. The peace to move on, to accept, to let go, to adapt, to forgive… The peace of knowing that God is in control of your life, no matter what.
So let’s all ask God for everything we need and everything we long for this Christmas, but let’s also accept that His peace, the peace that transcends all human understanding, is the biggest gift anybody could ever ask for – and we’ve already been given that in Jesus Christ.

May God bless you all this Christmas, and be close to you in the new year.