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Minister's Update

2 May 2013

  • 2 May 2013
  • andre.groenewald

It is wonderful to see all the daffodils and signs that summer is approaching. For a while I wondered if spring was ever going to come! So often in our lives, especially when we are struggling, it seems as if there is no hope for a better day. But we just have to look outside our windows and see the prospects of summer and be filled with hope. God is always giving us hope, not only through his creation but also in the smiles of a stranger, the gentle word of a friend and the company of dear people and family members.

We all need friends. We all need family members around us. Sometimes we do not have blood relations helping and  supporting us, but brothers and sisters in faith, walking the extra distance with us. Nanda, Henro, Nehan and I can  surely confirm the truth of this. Without blood relations, we are surrounded by brothers and sisters in faith, who love us and whom we love. This is not something new. It has been happening since the time of Jesus’ journey on earth.

For example, take Tabitha (or, Dorcas) from Joppa, in Acts 9:36-43. She was a follower of Jesus Christ, always doing good and helping the poor. She made a huge impact on the lives of all the people around her, but tragically she became ill and  died. When her brothers and sisters in faith heard that the apostle Peter was in Lydda, a town not far from Joppa, they sent him a message urging him to come at once, as Jewish custom dictated that dead bodies needed to be buried before sundown.

Once Peter arrived, he went to the upper room of her house. Her fellow sisters in Christ showed him all the good work she had done while she was alive. Peter sent out the women, knelt down and prayed. After he had prayed, he said, “Tabitha arise.” At these words her eyes opened, her life returned as if she had awakened from sleep. Peter  extended his hand to her and helped her up before he “presented her alive” to all those who knew that she had been dead.

The result of this miracle was that “many believed in the Lord” (v. 42).

 

Tabitha loved her brothers and sisters in faith and they responded to her love.  I think Peter was persuaded by this love. He had a few issues with regard to ritual cleanliness, but despite these issues and personal reservations, he acted in love and broke with the Jewish custom of coming so close to a dead body. Afterwards, he even stayed with a “tanner” named Simon in Joppa. A tanner was regarded by Jews as “unclean” and not allowed to come near the temple. Everyone who touched him or stayed with him was also regarded as “unclean”. But it seems as if the episode with Tabitha made such an impression on Peter that it changed completely all the personal reservations he had.

Maybe this is the powerful lesson of the story - namely the impact of love between brothers and sisters in faith, a love that is rooted in God’s decision to give us his only Son to redeem us from sin, death and hell.

Can we say the same of our congregations, of each other, of our villages? Are we brothers and sisters in faith who help each other, take care of one another and walk the extra mile for each other?

In many respects I think as the linked congregations we meet this criteria.  We care for other people in our communities, by our visiting people who are ill and alone; by having worship services at Stewart Court and Dickson Court. We are also starting a holiday club for both congregations, which I am really excited about.

I am sure there is nothing more powerful than love. We   believe, as it is written in Romans chapter 8, that nothing can ever divide us from the love of God. We have received this love, and whenever we share it, it becomes a powerful vehicle of change in our own lives and in the lives of others. All we need to do is to love unconditionally.

I would like to close with this story:

There is an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. In her grief, she went to the holy man and said, “What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?”

Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “Fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has  never known sorrow. We will use it to drive the sorrow out of your life.”

The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed.

She came first to a beautiful mansion, knocked at the door, and said, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me.” They told her, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that recently had befallen them.

The woman said to herself, “Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my own?” She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow. But     wherever she turned, in hovels and in other places, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune.

She became so involved in ministering to other people’s grief that ultimately she forgot about her quest for the  magical mustard seed, never realizing that it had, in fact, driven the sorrow out of her life.

We can do the same – making a difference  every moment of every day with the love we have received from our God, who saved us from the agony of sin, death and hell!          

All my love,
André

14 April 2013

  • 13 April 2013
  • church_admin

Welcome to the revised website for the congregations of Polbeth Harwood Church with West Kirk of Calder.

Please signup for our website news emails which will keep you up to date with events in both congregations.

A message from our Interim Moderator, Rev. Dr André J Groenewald will follow shortly.

Our previous websites are temporarily still accessible here: West Kirk and Polbeth Harwood

17 March 2013

  • 17 March 2013
  • church_admin

Bar none, Easter is the single most important holy day of the Christian Church. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the central event in Christianity. To Christians, the resurrection backs up Jesus’ claim that he had the authority to die for the sins of the world and the power to come back to life again. It also gives hope to Christians that they too will experience a resurrected life in heaven.

The exact day of the year that Easter falls on is very confusing, and the logic seems pretty old-fashioned in this digital age; it’s based on the lunar calendar and tied to the start of the solar spring. But the Western Church (Catholic and Protestant) continues to observe it based on the rules of long ago — that it falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 (the vernal equinox). It can’t come before March 22 or after April 25.

In contrast, Orthodox Churches wanted to tie Easter to Jewish Passover, given the relationship between Passover and the day of Christ’s resurrection. Because the Jewish calendar determines the date that Jews celebrate Passover, Easter for Orthodox Churches can vary by as much as five weeks from the Western Church.

No one knows for certain where the term Easter came from, but one theory is that it’s derived from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, who was connected with fertility and spring. If so, Christians named their high holy day Easter aiming to replace the pagan celebration of spring with their own holiday — like they did with Christmas. Easter is also often known as Pasch, which comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, meaning “Passover.” Some Protestants prefer to call it simply Resurrection Day to remove the commercialized baggage that they see associated with Easter.

In addition, the Easter bunny has pagan origins and has no real connection with the Christian celebration, although some churches use eggs as a metaphor for the new life Christians receive because of the Resurrection.

Source: What and When Is Easter? By Richard Wagner, Christianity For Dummies

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