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Polbeth Harwood Christmas Eve 2021

Minister's Update

March 2020 Letter

  • 4 March 2020
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations,

My gran once said to me, 'joining the journey of Jesus is a starting line, not a finish line.' What did she mean by these words? Well, I think she meant the faith journey leads us into a lifetime of contemplation and action; a lifetime of growing spiritually. So here is a question for each of you - In what ways has the journey of faith challenged you to grow as a Christian? The answer to the above question will be different for each of us in every season of our life, for the joy of the faith journey is that it is forever changing us. the challenges that come to us in our twenties and thirties will be different to those that we meet in our forties, fifties and sixties... and in every decade of our life.

Just recently I have been having to make a lot of extra journeys for various reasons. But the thing about journeys is that they are never quite the same; there is always something new to see, something new to notice. There is always something that has changed on a journey no matter how many times you have driven or walked that same route before. Things that you need to be aware of and take notice of because they can have an effect on the outcome of our journeys.

on our journey through Lent, 26th February to 9th April, these 40 days, we will journey with Jesus as he travels towards Jerusalem with his disciples, teaching them as he goes and then as he faces rejection, is arrested, tried,convicted and executed and then the joy of Easter morning.

We travel this journey together and as we do, we look for new things that we are suddenly aware of, things that we might not have noticed before or heard before, things that speak to us again of the grace of God. The truth for us is that at the end of the journey we will be transformed; transformed by opening our eyes again to the wonder of our God, our God who lived and died for us - for you, for me and asks us that we journey with him.



February 2020 Letter

  • 31 January 2020
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations,

January 2020 was an extremely busy month, a month filled with sadness - we lost 7 people from our congregations.It was also a month filled with worries - a lot of people became unwell or are fighting illness, but we should never allow hardships like these to bring us down.

In Matthew 6: 25-34 we read the beautiful passage entitled: "Do not worry." In this passage Jesus says: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about  your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will waer..."

or about absolutely anything else, for that matter.

"But seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

I read this quote recently:

"Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles. it takes away today's peace."

And that is so true. i think that is exactly what Jesus is trying to tell us in Matthew 6.

Amid all the busyness, questions, and tears, i wouldn't want to be anywhere else but where I am - a part of our 2 congregations.

Someone who went through a very difficult health journey recently told me that she wouldn't have been able to get through it, if it hadn't been for the love and support that she received from our church people.

At Betty Short's funeral I was reminded of this very same thing again. Betty was blessed to live for 100 years. When Betty looked back on her life, the thing that was the most important to her was her faith, her church.

Let's carry on supporting one another, carrying one another, loving one another this year. The one thing that is stronger than pain and sorrow is hope, and that is what we find in the church.

So, instead of worrying - let's hope. When we hope, whether our journey is easy or hard, long or short, we'll be able to walk it with our heads held high, because we know exactly what our destination is.

May God bless you all,


December 2019 Letter

  • 6 December 2019
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

Although a WHITE Christmas is something I’ve only ever seen on the telly and on Christmas cards before I moved to Scotland, I knew very well it existed; but BLACK ice is something I have never heard of before settling down here! And if I can be completely honest, I don’t like driving when the temperatures plummet, because I’m always so scared my car will skid on the ice.

But children look at things through completely different eyes… When we had our first wee cold spell of the winter a couple of weeks ago, our paving was completely covered in black ice. I heard my boys giggling outside and I thought I should better go tell them to be careful they don’t slip and fall, but when I went out to see what they were doing, I couldn’t help but smile. They were “ice skating” on the paving, having the time of their lives as they entertained each other and tried to stay on their feet.

And while I was standing there, looking at them, I thought that we grown-ups should look at life through children’s eyes more. Because we always try to do the right thing, I think it can happen that sometimes we only focus on the dangers of something, and in this way miss out on the fun altogether.

So let’s go into Advent and Christmas and the New Year like children: filled with anticipation, hope, and excitement. Because God wants us to see the beauty and experience the magic of his Son’s birth, and the start of another new year.

And when the “roads of life” get icy, let’s try not to skid, but rather to skate. Let’s make the most of every situation we find ourselves in!

I hope to see you all at the Christmas Eve Family Service on the 24th of December, at Polbeth Hardwood, 6:30pm; and/or at the Watchnight Service at the West Kirk on the same night at 11:30pm.

May you all have a happy Christmas and a blessed 2020!

God bless,



November 2019 Letter

  • 30 October 2019
  • nanda.groenewald

November, a month which offers us a season of also starts with two holy days. On the first day of the month we celebrate All Saints Day. The day we remember all of the famous saints whose names are recorded in the annals of history. it is quickly followed by All Souls day on 2 November. this date provides an opportunity to give thanks for those who have enriched our lives through their compassionate love and kindly deeds. Both of these holy days offer us an opportunity to prepare for another date in the church calendar - Remembrance Sunday: the date on which we acknowledge with sadness that wars continue to rage in parts of our world, and we commit ourselves to pray and work towards peace.

As Remembrance Sunday approaches, I find myself reflecting on the word 'peace' and am drawn to St Francis of Assisi's famous prayer which has been translated in a hymn 'Make me a channel of your peace.'

Born of noble birth, Francis had ambitions of being a knight and warrior. he had fought in a battle between his home town of Assisi and neighbouring Perugia. He was imprisoned, tortured and released to continue his journey to fight in the Crusades. Like many soldiers today, he experienced the horrors of war and this had a profound and lasting effect upon him. although his body was weakened by the physical injuries he suffered; the mental and emotional scars took their toll upon him, leaving him a shadow of his former self.

By joining the Crusades, Francis might have wanted to prove he was a worthy soldier, but on his ride there, he received a divine message and came to realise that his aspirations as a knight were not to be accomplished by the sword. he turned around and headed back to his hometown of Assisi.

the rigors experienced by today's military may far exceed those of the medieval soldier. The 'glory of war' that once impelled Francis to military service is now a distant myth. Those who have served in the military and those who work in the mental health profession have great concern for the impact of conflict on the modern soldier. In America there is a veterans programme at the Franciscan Renewal Centre in Arizona.

The Franciscan community work with discharged soldiers offering them a therapeutic space to heal body, mind and soul.They are loved back to wholeness and health. As part of their recovery process some of the soldiers take up the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Assisi. Together, they share their experiences and learn about the life and struggles of St Francis, who himself was a professional soldier.

it is believed that St Francis' life of quiet, ascetic values amongst nature is a direct result, not only of God's calling, but also of his need to withdraw to tend to his soul. Learning of St Francis' struggles to come to terms with his brokenness offers hope to ex-soldiers, as they recuperate from their own emotional scars.

the picture shown above is a statue of St Francis as a soldier, riding his horse with his head hung low revealing the emotional pain and the wounded-ness he was experiencing. This sculpture of the saint on horseback is a far cry from the saint we associate with peace today! Yet, for those suffering from combat stress and Post Traumatic Stress symptoms, it offers hope and an acknowledgment of their pain.

As Remembrance Sunday draws nearer we are invited to remember those today who live with the horrors of war imprinted in their minds, hearts and souls. For some, these horrors never leave them; others will frequently experience a delayed effect of survivor guilt. We pray for all who struggle with the effects of war and we commit ourselves to working towards peace.

In the words of the prayer by St Francis - 

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy."

Shalom, Alison