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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

September 2015 Letter

  • 1 September 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations
We’ve had an amazing summer – a trip to the USA where we met up with good friends, spent time with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and then of course the fabulous holiday club at Polbeth Harwood Church…
But the summer holiday is over now (not that it ever really was summer this year!!), and although it was special to do lots of exciting things with the boys, it’s also nice to be back into a routine again. With the start of the new school year, also comes the time for a new start here at church. And I am so excited about everything we are going to do before next summer!

When we were in the USA, we visited friends that we’ve known for 10 years, but we’ve not seen them since 2008. So although we were super excited to see them again, we were a little nervous too, because what would it be like after all this time? But from the minute they welcomed us with open arms at the airport, we felt as if we were with family. They made us feel special and almost treated us like royalty! Even the rest of the extended family, whom we’d never met before, treated us as if they had known us forever.
We treasured every minute spent with them, and that made me think that we as a church should be exactly the same. If somebody comes through our doors, whether they walk through these doors every Sunday, only once in a while, for the first time in 7 years or for the first time ever – we should make them feel like family.
Because that is what we are – brothers and sisters in Christ. In Luke 8 we read:  19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” 21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
 
When it was time to leave and we were saying ‘goodbyes’ to our friends, we were already started making plans for when we would meet up again. Because we had such a lovely time we can’t wait to spend time with them again. And that is the way every single person who exit our church doors should feel – excited about coming back again soon!

As the cold is creeping closer, slowly but surely, let’s make sure our churches are places of welcome and warmth – even warmer that the summer sun in Florida!

May God bless you all.
Nanda

July / August 2015 Letter

  • 28 June 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

Excitement about the summer holidays is running high in this house! I think everybody is ready for a break. As I was going round the schools conducting the end-of-term assemblies, all the teachers were counting the sleeps along with the kids! It’s been a busy year – but we wouldn’t want it any different…

It’s been a busy year at the church too. I can’t believe that it’s been a whole year since my induction as the new minister at Polbeth Harwood & West Kirk of Calder. I got to know so many lovely people, and I look forward to getting to know you all even better!

But talking about taking a break – we people need that, even if it is just a wee break in our day-to-day routine, doing something different, to build up our energy for the demands we face every day. Luckily, God never takes any breaks. In Psalm 121:3&4 we read: “He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel, will neither slumber nor sleep”.

This was written against the background of the gentile nations who lived around the Israelites, and believed in gods who had to go for a “winter sleep” and had to be woken up again in the spring.

Our God is not like that – he is always awake, always there, taking care of us. He never goes away on holiday. So whether you are going away somewhere exotic this summer, or whether you are staying home enjoying the lovely sunshine (that we are going to get!!), remember, God is there with you too. And he will not let your foot slip.

May God bless you this summer, and always:
Bless me in the city, and bless me in the country.
Bless me in the present, and bless me in the future.
Bless me in the busyness, and bless me in the calm.
O Lord of contrasts and continuity, carry me through your world.
(From “Livings Stones”, by the Pray Now Group)

Kind regards, Nanda

June 2015 Letter

  • 2 June 2015
  • nanda.groenewald

Dear Congregations

This year I was commissioned to attend the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in the Assembly Halls in Edinburgh. What a privilege that was! As it was my first Assembly, I didn’t really know what to expect, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the long hours and attending a meeting that lasted a whole week! But to my surprise it was very interesting and relevant, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of the decision making process for the future of the church.

I was accompanied by George Stott from the West Kirk and Jessie Kelly from Polbeth Harwood, who also both enjoyed the experience very much. It was a full week, starting with a training session for first time commissioners on the Friday evening, and including lots of different events alongside the actual meeting. On the Sunday morning I attended the Assembly Service at St Giles Cathedral, and stayed on for the communion service afterwards. Sunday afternoon I went to “Heart and Soul” in Princes Street Gardens, a lovely event with lots of displays and activities, attended by about 4000 people.

During lunch time every day there were fringe events which you could attend if you wanted to. It was like a treasure chest full of information… One evening I attended a lecture on John Knox and his influence on the Church, and on another I was invited to Holyrood House Palace for a Beating of the Drums ceremony and a reception afterwards. On the last day of the assembly all the new ministers were invited to lunch with the new moderator, Rev Dr Angus Morrison, after which we were presented to him at the Assembly. What a humble and inspirational person he is!

Throughout the week I met lots of interesting people, listened to people competently debating about important issues, and worshipped God alongside more than 700 others. I loved the singing, and found the worship enriching. Everything was based on the theme “Living Stones” (1Peter 2:1-10).

I left the assembly feeling that I have learnt so much about the workings of the Church and all the different people who worship in the Church of Scotland.
I also felt motivated for working in our own congregations and I am proud to be able to say that I am a minister in the Church of Scotland -  a Church that takes her responsibility seriously as a beacon of hope and bringer of change in society.

My wish is that we will all realise that we have important responsibilities in the Church of God as his livings stones – we are all needed to keep this church standing for generations to come.
I regard myself as extremely fortunate to be a stone in the living Church of Christ.
I hope you do too!

God bless,
Nanda

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