PASTORAL LETTER

28th November

John 13: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”As the year draws to an end, we look back at a year that has been more than interesting. When the initial lockdown began, we adopted a phrase at Christ Church Blairgowrie: When things go low Christians go high. We go high with love. We challenged ourselves to take up the opportunity that was given to us at this time, to speak to people about Christ in a time of uncertainty.

I remain incredibly grateful to those who have continued to support the Church financially in these difficult days. And of course, we fully understand that there are many who cannot offer the support they used to. But the work done by the Bread of Life team, in partnership with JOSH (Johannesburg Organization for Sheltering the Homeless), and the support given to the Helping Hands Ministry, has been a great encouragement. Thank you! These Ministries will continue to be a very important part of Christ Church Blairgowrie, and I pray we will continue to be able to give generously to these Ministries. Let us continue to make the most of the opportunities that have been given to us at this time.

I want to take a moment to speak to the matter of anxiety, which we are seeing not only in our society, but in the church. Here are a couple of things that I have found helpful:

  • Firstly, acknowledge your struggle. Do not judge yourself harshly. Anxiety is a real issue that cannot always be avoided.
  • Secondly, you are not alone. King David often expressed his anxiety in the Psalms. Jesus Christ knew about anxiety when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said; “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Mark 14:34) There are many who struggle with anxiety. You are never alone.
  • Thirdly, regular meditation in God’s word and prayer can be of enormous help. In the Psalms, during David’s difficult times, he still acknowledged the presence and work of God. And in Gethsemane, our Lord Jesus says; “Not my will but your will be done.” In his moment of anxiety, he acknowledges his Father. These meditations do not have to be long and complicated. I find doing breathing exercises during this time very helpful. Breathing in slowly and steadily through one’s nose and out through one’s mouth for half a minute or so, can be very relaxing. And then spending 5 minutes meditating on God’s word. I send out a 7 minute meditation, Monday to Friday. If you want access to those, let me know.
  • Fourthly, speak to someone about your struggles. Find someone who has a listening ear and a compassionate heart. And please feel free to give myself or Simon a call.
  • Lastly, the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4: “Do not be anxious but present your requests to God and the peace of God that transcends all human understanding will guard your heart and mind.” Paul is not saying that it is wrong to be anxious; he acknowledges that anxiety is real. But he wants us to know that we can turn to our Father anytime. He understands, has a listening ear and a compassionate heart, and does not judge his children. And when we come to him in prayer with that understanding, we experience a unique kind of peace that is a peace that is relational. It is a transcending peace. We realize that, because of the Gospel of Christ, we are in a beautiful relationship with the father, and that Gospel peace guards our hearts and minds. He will not let us out of his grip. He will not turn his back on us. He will keep us in Him. His presence will never be removed from us. Our hearts and minds are guarded by his peace.

We will be having a Christmas service on 25th December. We’re asking everybody to begin to pre-register for that service so that we can make sure we can accommodate everyone without breaking any COVID regulations.

Again, can I encourage you to stay in touch with us and please feel free to call us or send us a message if you have any needs or concerns, or know of somebody else who needs to be helped.

God’s richest blessings to you all.

Dave