Latest Photographs

Covid Style Kirk's Cafe

Minister's Update

Christmas Letter

  • 25 November 2013
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear congregation

I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas again… The leaves are falling from the trees, and the Christmas lights are being switched on.

One thing nobody can disagree about, is that Christmas is BIG in this country. I went to Princess Street recently, and although the atmosphere was magical, I could hardly move because of all the people there – huge crowds, everybody wanting their piece of “Edinburgh’s Christmas”. But the real meaning of Christmas is hidden very well behind all the beautifully decorated trees, twinkling lights, festive music, and expensive gifts.

Because you don’t see or hear anything about the wee boy Christmas is all about - about his message of love. In Luke 2:1-7 we read that when Jesus was born, Mary wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

 

Seeing all those people flocking to Edinburgh, made me think of what it must have been like in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Thousands of people gathered together, without the slightest idea that the Saviour of the world was just born, there among them. Everybody was too busy with what they came to do, to realise what an historic event was taking place, right under their noses!

Are we any different? All those many years ago there was no place for Jesus in the inn. Is there place for him among us now? Although we live more than 2000 years after those people who were all gathered in Bethlehem, have we changed at all? Or are we so busy with our own business – especially at this busy time of year – that we don’t even recognise the presence of Christ among us?

 

There is nothing wrong with having a special time at Christmas, as long as Christ isn’t pushed to the side. Because without Christ, we wouldn’t have had Christmas in the first place!

 

My wish for you this Christmas is that every twinkling light will remind you of the hope there is in Christ, every festive tune remind you of the joy there is in Christ, and every gift you buy or open remind you of the love there is in Christ...

 

May you all have a very blessed Christmas.

 

Nanda

 

Locum Minister's Letter: November

  • 20 October 2013
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear congregation

I often get asked why I decided to become a minister. Well, ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a minister. My mum saved an essay of mine, written in P4, in which I had to say what I wanted to be one day. I wrote: “Even though to be a minister in the church is very much a man’s job just now, that is exactly what I want to do – even though I am a girl.”

Looking back, I now understand that that desire of mine, which have never changed, was God calling me into ministry. I was destined to become a minister – and I love my job.

For other people it’s not always that easy or straight-forward. Take a look at Jeremiah, for instance. In Jeremiah 1:4-10 we read how God called him. In verse 5 God says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” But Jeremiah was immediately full of excuses: “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child” (verse 6).

For the time Jeremiah lived in, these were actually two very valid excuses, because if you couldn’t speak properly, nobody was going to listen to you. And all a prophet did was speak, telling the people what God expected them to do. And by referring to himself as a child is an indication that he was not old enough to be able to speak in public yet. It was only at the age of 30 that a man could speak with authority.  So to be a prophet would be a really big challenge for Jeremiah. He was expected to tell the people that they had to obey God and change their lives according to God’s will. At his tender age – no one would take him seriously.

But none of this changed God’s mind. He created Jeremiah to be his prophet, and He would put the words in his mouth himself. He would give him the strength and courage he needed. God reassured Jeremiah that He would not have sent him on this journey without giving him the strength to do what was expected of him.

And that is still true for each one of us today. God calls all of us – for different things, in different ways; but he calls us, because He wants to use us. And whether we feel up to this calling or not, we don’t have much of a choice. We have to do what God wants us to do, because that is what He made us for. But He promises that He will never leave us alone, that He will give us the strength to do what is expected of us.

So let’s not be hesitant, because there are two words a child of God can never use together, and that is “No, God”. Let’s live in such a way that our lives are a big YES in honour of God.

It is my prayer that my work in these two parishes will be nothing other than such a YES, because I regard myself as fortunate to have been called as the locum minister to Polbeth Harwood linked with the West Kirk of Calder.

May God bless you all.

Best wishes,
Nanda Groenewald
Locum minister: Polbeth Harwood linked with the West Kirk of Calder

Minister's Letter: October

  • 2 October 2013
  • andre.groenewald

Dearly beloved congregation,

September has been quite a busy month, with all the groups and organisations starting again after the summer holidays. It is also really exciting to welcome our new locum, Rev Dr Jonanda Groenewald. She has taken on her new role  with enthusiasm and commitment, which I appreciate. I am sure she is going to make a huge pastoral difference in the joint Parishes.

Weather-wise, September has not been too bad at all, though I am sure others will say it could have been better!

If there is one thing about Scotland that I really like, it is how everyone always discusses the weather. I like it because it gives me a wonderful opportunity to tell people about God who controls the weather.

I think in Biblical times it also provided biblical writers with opportunities to tell the people of Israel and their foreign neighbours about God’s Almighty power over all things including the weather.

It is when you read Job chapter 37:1-18 that you realise that humans have no control over God’s creation. 

The book of Job is part of the wisdom literature in our Bibles. In many ways it is a protest against “progress theology” - a belief that when you do good and obey God you will prosper, as is found mostly in the book of Proverbs. The book of Ecclesiastes is also written along the same lines as Job, saying that bad things happen to all people, those who obey God and those who don’t. So all you need to do is to trust God and accept His will.

Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:1-6

You will not find a more God-fearing man than Job in the whole Bible. He did everything according to the book when it came to his faith and trust in God. Even after he lost everything, his family and all material goods, he still held on to God. Even when his friends speculated over God, Job simply remained quiet. Job knew that his faith was being tested and he relied fully on God, not on the wisdom of his friends.

“Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?
Job 37:14-16

At the end of the book, God answers Job “out of a storm” confirming that He is in control. Job replies saying that he acknowledges the Almighty power of God over all things. He has come to the conclusion that God knows better and that He can be trusted.

Maybe we also must trust God and use every opportunity we get to speak about God and proclaim to the world, as we do on “Back to Church Sunday”, that He is in control. And when we struggle through life and cannot understand why bad things happen to us, then we must hold the hand of God even tighter, just as Job did. Maybe then, we too must wait for God and just listen as He speaks to us in all sorts of ways, through people and events.

So whatever the weather man says, God is in control. Whatever the weather, God can be trusted at, and in, all times. He knows what we need and He will provide in His own time.

May we all be thankful for everything we receive from God! May we show it as we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving on the 13th of October 2013.

All my best wishes,
André

Minister's Letter: September

  • 30 August 2013
  • andre.groenewald

We had an absolutely wonderful holiday in South Africa during July and a bit of August. We had quite a busy program visiting and reuniting with friends and family far and wide. We spent time in Johannesburg, in Pretoria, and went on safari in the wild Bushveld near Bella Bella. We flew to George in the Eastern Cape to be with Nanda’s godmother and her family. Then on our return from George we flew directly to Durban where we spent a  week with my mother  at a beach resort in Umhlanga.  The boys loved the swimming pool and although it was winter in South Africa it was still 22C  almost every day.                                                                                                                                                                        

On our return from the resort, I had the opportunity to preach at my old congregation who were celebrating 80 years of witness. It was really wonderful to see my old flock and how the “bairns” that I baptised, have grown - some even taller than me now! We travelled to the Western Transvaal, where my family absolutely spoiled us and finally, on the last week, we celebrated my father in law’s 70th birthday in a game reserve. It was magic and we all had a fabulous week before returning home to Scotland.

I must say it was wonderful to return to our own house. The boys have been discovering and appreciating all their toys again as if they were new!  Work has quickly resumed and I am starting to find my way again through the parishes, visiting, counselling and teaching. But it is also the time to think about the year ahead and my hopes for the Parish.

After I read Isaiah chapter 43:1-3a at a recent thanksgiving service, it dawned upon me what God is saying to us living here in Scotland. The passage was actually given to the people of Israel as a prophecy of hope for their future.

At that point in time, the people of Israel were finding themselves in bother. They were exiles in a foreign country because they had chosen not to listen to God. The Lord God was merciful but full of justice, eventually allowing the Babylonians to break down the holy city of Jerusalem and take the Israelites to Babylon, today’s Iraq.

Once in exile, they realised what they had done to God, felt sorry, and confessed their sins. So, in chapter 43, Isaiah tells them to have renewed hope. God had called them by their names -  meaning He knew them personally;  He would be with them whatever befell them on their journey home to their own country; He listened to their prayers and would come to their rescue.

God also rescues us. God sees that we are all condemned and exiled sinners and without His help will never see His kingdom. So He saved us all through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Everyone who has faith will indeed experience the rescue operation of God in their lives.

And maybe this is what we need to hope for in this new session; for God to rescue us in all those moments we fall into sin; when we feel anxious and alone; when we are ill; and when life just gets too much. We need God to rescue us daily through His Holy Spirit when we lose focus and start worshipping the “other gods” of modern living. As a congregation, we need God’s rescue when we worship an institution, traditions and culture more than we worship Him as the Almighty God.

So my hope is that everyone in this Parish will experience the mighty and loving hand of God in the coming session just like Israel did a long time ago.

All my blessings,
André

Pages