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Minister's Update

February Letter 2016

  • 1 February 2016
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations​

I'm writing this letter on Burns' Day.

We had haggis, neeps and tatties for dinner. Henro told us his version of the story of Little Red Riding Hood in Scottish - "aboot the bonnie wee lassie who took her Nan some IrnBru and tablet, because she was feeling peelie-wallie. She didnae ken that the wolf ate her nan for his tea, so her heart was sair - but luckily, Robert de Bruce was near!!" And then Nehan sang the Flower of Scotland loud enough for all the neighbours to hear, complete with his hand on his heart! And that made me realise - our roots might be in South Africa, but our hearts are in Scotland.......

I think it's really important to be proud of your heritage, to know where you come from, who you are and where you belong. And this is true about our faith heritage as well.

I saw an amazing photo on the internet this week: it's of a girl holding on to a huge crown on her head, saying: "On the darkest days when I feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy, I remember whose daughter I am and I straighten my crown!"

We belong to Jesus, the King of the world. God made us, He takes care of us, and nothing that happens to us can ever change that.

So just like we are proud to walk the same soil as so many famous Scots, let's be proud of the fact that we have the privilege to walk in the footsteps of Jesus too.

May you all have a fabulous February!

God bless,

Nanda

 

Letter - December 2015

  • 28 November 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the light of what’s going on in the world, that’s an expression that can be very meaningful in many a household, especially this time of year – a time that is supposed to be filled with joy and peace, but for some strange reason can sometimes be very stressful.

I love Christmas in Scotland, in the cold weather. There’s something just not right about an artificial Christmas tree with fake snow on it in the scorching December heat in South Africa. Christmas here FEELS like Christmas. And because this excites me so much, I usually can’t wait to get the 4 of us in our Christmas jumpers and send a photo to the family abroad, you know, of our ‘cute, happy family’ at Christmas time. The problem is just that my eldest has now decided that he’s not wearing a Christmas jumper anymore. He’s 8. That’s not cool. “What?!”, I went. “Of course you’re wearing your jumper! We live in Scotland now, that’s what people do.” “No.” “Yes.” “No.” Heated argument.

Until I took a step backwards and realised what I was doing. I was forcing him to do something that is so insignificant in the bigger scale of things, that I couldn’t believe it was important to me in the first place.

Because we are an amazingly lucky family – to be able to live here in this safe and lovely country, among loving and caring people. My boys are healthy and happy. And cute. Even without Christmas jumpers on!
When Jesus was born there was nothing cute about the “season”. “Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). No Christmas jumper for baby Jesus. Cloths – because there was nothing else.

Sometimes we can get so worked up about the small things, that we lose perspective of what is really important. If we could see past all the Christmas decorations into the rest of the world – how many families are there that are torn apart because of war, where children have nothing to wear and no gifts waiting for them under the tree, where Christmas will just be a day like any other? How many people here among us hide heartache behind a smile and a gift this time of year?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry if your turkey burns or if you can’t find the perfect gift… We’ve got so much to be thankful for. God loves us. So much that he sent his son to die for us.

Let’s focus on the real meaning of Christmas this year, and the peace that only God can bring, the peace we so desperately need in the world today.

May God bless you all this Christmas.

Nanda

November 2015 Letter

  • 31 October 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear congregations

So there I was getting myself ready to go to Aviemore with my family for the October break… And we ended up in Corfu! What a lovely surprise! André planned it all to the finest detail (behind my back!), and we had an amazing week of unexpected sunshine, leisure and exploring on the island.

Now that’s the kind of surprise everybody likes to get – sunshine instead of rain; swimming in the sea instead of walking around in your thermals… But you know what the most rewarding thing of this whole holiday was? To see the sheer delight on André’s face when the boys and I enjoyed everything he planned for us. It gave him so much pleasure to know that he was making us happy.

And this made me think about our relationship with God. Sitting there on the beautiful beach, looking at the sun setting, I thought that God gives us so much… Very often he surprises us in good ways too, but apart from that he takes care of us every single day. That is the one thing we can always rely on in our ever-changing lives – that God is always there. But does he ever see joy on our faces for that? Or do we ask for our daily bread and expect a huge big slice of chocolate cake? (Matthew 6:5-13)

How happy would it make God if he could see that we appreciate everything he does for us – the big things as well as the small things?

Let’s challenge ourselves to say thank you to God for one thing every single day this month, so that by the time there are no leaves left on the trees, we will realise that in contrast to that we have more blessings than we can count.

May God bless you all,
Nanda

October 2015 Letter

  • 1 October 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

It’s beautiful outside at the moment. The sun is shining brightly on the red, orange and yellow leaves on the trees…

I know lots of people don’t like autumn very much – because autumn is the sign that winter is just around the corner. I always find it quite amusing that the warm colours of autumn, the reds and yellows and browns, signifies that the colder weather it on its way! It’s as if the green leaves change into something spectacular before they fall off and die.

To me it almost feels as if nature is reflecting something that is going on in my heart at the moment. Because this past month has been difficult – there have been so many funerals in our two congregations.

I visited somebody a couple of evenings before she passed away. I’ve seen her lying in that hospital bed many times before, but when I walked into her room that night there was a radiance about her that I’d not seen before. Her skin looked soft and smooth, her cheeks were glowing a healthy red. And I thought: she’s getting ready to meet her Maker. The green leaf has turned yellow. And that made me realize that something we dread, dying, is just a part of life, and it can be beautiful too.

Although staying behind after someone you love has passed away is possibly the most difficult thing anyone here on earth will ever have to go through – it feels like being dropped in the middle of winter without a coat on – I think being blown off that tree in a gentle breeze and landing in the arms of God, must be quite spectacular.

In Ecclesiastes 3 we read: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” May God help us to find the beauty in the difficult times too.
May God bless you all, in all the different seasons of your lives.

Nanda

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