Thursday, 10 January 2019

Selah

This post has originally appeared in one of our villager's blogs, definitely worth following: www.mountaingrace.blogspot.com. Thank you Maria for giving us permission to re-post it here!

It is a new year... Cicadas' buzzing song infuses the heat and the cat is stretched long and limp at my feet. On cool forest walks, we spot the first wild mushrooms, with the Rameron Pigeons cooing in the forest canopy. Bramble berries ripen in the sun. It is a season of abundance, fruit trees bend low under the weight of mellowing fruit, fields of wild flowers dazzle, lush green foliage whisper in the breeze. The call of the seldom seen but often heard Piet my Vrou/Red Chested Cuckoo (called the Christmas-bird by the Xhosa people for obvious reasons) has become more drawn out and less urgent. The glossy starlings amuse us with their friendly chatter. A pair of inquisitive yellow billed hornbills come to perch on our deck-railings, clearly finding us as interesting as we find them. When the sun beats down, we slip into a nearby dam, mud curling between our toes. These long Summer days seemed endless, and "playtime" came to an end all too soon. We shed our childlike skins and square our shoulders to face reality. The pace picks up and time just skips ahead - an impatient child, rather hard to keep up with.

As with previous years, I hoped to have a bible verse to make my own at the beginning of this year. A verse which would be like a reminder or promise or a "theme" for 2019. Instead, I got a word: Selah...

It is not even a word that is read out loud most of the time. A mysterious little word, with no clear interpretation or translation. In many translations of the bible, it is just spelt out phonetically from the Hebrew. The NIV have removed it altogether. It appears 74 times in the bible, 71 times in Psalms, 3 times in the book of Habakkuk. That makes it more frequent than two other "famous" Hebrew words from the bible, "Amen" and "Hallelujah". So it is an important word. Up to very recently, I just had no idea what it meant, or how I could apply it to my every day.

Some biblical scholars speculate that it’s a kind of musical notation, maybe indicating something like a key change, or a repeat. Others think maybe it marks a pause, or a shift in subject or tone. But it is still just speculation. The word Selah is, and will remain, a mystery.

For me, that’s kind of fitting. Some people may think that the Bible is simple, straightforward, and that they have it all figured out. Psalms, and especially "Selah" reminds me that there are many unanswered questions, many mysteries, "For now we see through a glass, dimly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Cor 13:12

Charles Spurgeon (the Prince of Preachers) wrote a beautiful interpretation of the word Selah - Lift up the heart. Rest in contemplation and praise. Still keep the soul in tune... let it be our aim to maintain the uprising devotion of our grateful hearts...

With that in mind, I thought to look at one Psalm and how "Selah" lifts my heart, moves me to rest in contemplation and praise, keeping my soul in tune, maintaining the uprising devotion of my grateful heart.

I chose Psalm 46. Two years ago our boys memorised this Psalm verse by verse. Reading it, I still see their faces, frowning with concentration and dramatising the "dramatic" parts with flourish.

Psalm 46 is not advice, like Proverbs or Psalm 1. It’s not about me, or you or anyone else. Psalm 46 is about God. It is reassurance about who our God is, where God is, and what God has promised us.

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.


Firstly, our God is a God of Might. Selah. God is our strength. The one who breaks the bow and shatters the spear, who will, on the wonderful day appointed by Him, make wars cease to the end of the earth. Or, as Martin Luther famously paraphrased this Psalm: A Mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing! (bulwark: a defensive wall, rampart, fortification, protector, guard, defender; or a ship's sides above the level of the deck.)

Our God is a God of Might.

Secondly, our God is a God of Mystery. Selah. Psalm 46 reminds me that no matter how desperately I want to understand why things happen in this world, why God does or does not do the things I may think God should do… there will always be some things beyond my ability to comprehend.

I value this mystery because it enables me to feel and trust in God’s love… love that was fully revealed in Christ Jesus. It reminds me that we are the players of life in God's universe, not the playwright.

God is always greater than our understanding of Him and there will always be mystery about Him that causes us to fall down in awe and worship. This mystery, which we may try to categorise, keeps causing struggles in our life. Every time we get God tidied up like a ball of rubber bands, another end bursts out and the struggle begins all over again... until we learn to live in faith with untidy ends. If everything was clear, then faith would be irrelevant! We are not called to solve the mystery... but enter it.


Our God is a God of Might, and a God of Mystery.

But finally, and perhaps most importantly, our God is in our Midst. Selah

Immanuel.

God with us, among us, ever present;

Before we were born, throughout our lives, and after our days are done;

God who stands with us and strengthens us today and for the road ahead;

God who watches over us, guides us, protects us, comforts us. Selah.

Might, Mystery in our Midst...

So, as the year and the unknown stretches out before you and I, lets enter into the mystery, with trusting hearts lifted up to our Mighty God. Resting in contemplation, with souls in tune, keeping the uplifted devotion of our grateful hearts.

Post by Maria Gladwin from her blog In the Shadow of His wings
https://mountaingrace.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Mike Griffith passed away peacefully on Friday, 9 November 2018, aged 85, after a rich life.  He was surrounded by love and care.

At the end Mike was surrounded with care and love: his wife, Carole; his nurse, Miriam; Carole’s generous friend, Tonya who left her home and business to help; and his daughter, Laurel who had come from New Zealand. A touching item was when father and daughter sang Mike’s favourite song Oh Holy Night! to Michele in Grahamstown During the last few months, many Hogsbackians visited to help and encourage Mike and Carole as Mike became more frail. 

Mike was a gentle man. Like so many who eventually lived at Hogsback, he would bring his family for picnics and then in 1980 he bought the property as a family holiday home.  It was meant to be a refuge and he was happy never to leave. Appropriately, he named his home Tanquility.  Mike has three children: Michele who lives in Grahamstown; Laurel in Wellington, New Zealand; and Gary, an Anglican priest, in New Zealand. Mike has six grandchildren, one in China teaching English, and the others are all in New Zealand.
Mike and Carole at their home. They had met in East London when their children were young and later, in 2013, they married in St Patrick’s. The remarkable groom was 80 at the time and had a smile on his face every day!
Although he was born in Johannesburg, Mike spent most of his career in East London. From his school days he was a leader. He had that air of confidence that creates respect from others. His leadership was crowned by being elected by his fellows as the Custodian of the Key and then selected by the staff as Head Prefect of Selborne College.  His peers recognised this leadership role throughout his life. He had a beautiful tenor voice and would sing in church as a chorister. He was an outstanding sportsman representing the school in three team sports and was captain of two of them. He was Sportsman of the Year at Selborne College in 1952 and was selected as the opening bat in the South African schools XI.
The Border Cricket side of 1960/61. Mike played for Border as a batsman for ten years


He worked for the Weir Group and became MD of the Agriculture Group. To show his enterprise, he volunteered to go to Dordrecht even though it is an Afrikaans region and his Afrikaans was not strong. Not only did he learn to speak Afrikaans, but he stayed for three years and during that time he scored the highest turn-over ever.
The Directors of the Weir Group of Companies. Mike was MD of the Agriculture Division and was the top dealer for three years and was awarded a trip to London to meet the President of Massey-Ferguson worldwide 

Mike was a faithful Christian. He was a lay minister and conducted services in neighbouring towns. He was in demand to conduct weddings. He was a loyal member of the St Patrick’s Chapel and was elected to the Council, a position he held for over a decade. Another major contribution of his, together with his friend, Neil Cooper, was to conduct the Christmas and Easter Arboretum services in the forest. 
Mike, at a recent Council meeting 
Mike was kind. Mike’s life has been one of service to his community. He has lived in Hogsback for many years during which time he has made a huge impact. As a businessman he ran the shop for a while but unfortunately had a huge setback when the business did not succeed. It says a lot for his tenacity that he bounced back. Of recent years he has been an estate agent where many Hogsback residents will attest to his kindness in ensuring that they were looked after. Many of the house sales in Hogsback, have his imprint on them. He was Chairman of the Hobbiton-on-Hogsback Association and spent many years on the Community Police Forum to ensure security for the Hogsback community. 

One of the most special aspects of his life is how he has gone out of his way to help the needy with some amazing accomplishments. On one occasion he heard a young primary school child, Sipho, sing in the kitchen of the Lighthouse Steak Ranch (previously called The Enchanted Tree House restaurant) where Mike was eating. He asked to speak to the boy and suggested they sing ‘Silent Night’ together, as it was Christmas time. Together the two sang ‘Silent Night’ to the delight of the other patrons. Mike managed to get Sipho to sing in the chapel during the Carol Service where he wowed the congregation and a visitor offered to sponsor him to go to the Drakensberg Choir that year! Mike managed to get him accepted and Sipho was able to experience the highest level of voice training and education for a year. Earlier, he was able to help another disadvantaged child from Hogsback, Luke, to be adopted, and after 13 years is now at Bishop’s in Cape Town. Mike has enriched many particularly showing compassion when conducting weddings; helping the needy and even selling houses.

You have enriched our lives and the community. 

We shall miss you, Mike.

By Trevor Webster

Mike loved his Hogsback home, Tranquility, and would greet visitors on the ramp Fritz built to enable him to use his walking frame; guests were greeted with this cheerful sign above the door showing how much they were appreciated

Monday, 22 October 2018

What does God want? (Sunday service by David Williams)

Readings:
Ez 33:1-9, 
1 Tim 2:1-8




It is always so sad to stand in front of the church and see empty pews.  Why do people not come? (but thanks to those who do!) This demands the question...
Why are we here? What do people want? 

They want fellowship, music, to feel God, all good reasons, but really secondary.  The essence of Christianity is to relate to God, and to yield to Him.  The Bible’s favourite title for God is “LORD”, in both Testaments.  In salvation, we are transferred to His Kingdom. So there is a question …
What does God want us to be if he is Lord? 1 Timothy 2:2 gives an answer: Quiet and peaceable, Godly and respectful.  In short, in HARMONY with others and with God In this we reflect the nature of God as Trinity, three Persons in full harmony – we are in His image – incidentally 3 Persons are ONE God (1 Tim 2:6).

What does God want us to have (1 Tim 2:4)?  He desires the salvation of all, and that all have the knowledge of the truth, in short, LIFE! – both for now and forever.  Again as in his image, this reflects the nature of God, who is life.

This is what God wants; what has He done (1 Tim 2:6-7)?  Thank Him for that!  God sent His son, to teach and die so we know how to live now and forever.  AND God sent His servants, which also means us.

So what should WE do?  Obviously seek to live right and proclaim, but Paul puts something else FIRST of all (1 Tim 2:1), our priority …
  • Pray!  It is God’s work that we need

For all, even those we do not like, irritate us, harm us etc. For rulers, even those who misrule, are corrupt, even persecute.  Remember the emperor at the time was Nero

This means that we have a responsibility; we are called to stand in breach to ask God not to bring judgement on those who deserve it (Ps 106:23, Ex 32:7-14)
                        We are watchmen Ez 22:30, 33:1-20
                        We are intercessors 1 Sam 12:23
                         But if we do not …, then we answer to God

Are we serious? If he is our LORD, we MUST pray!  Indeed, we must supplicate (1 Tim 2:1), so urge, beseech, implore!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Featuring: Rev Barry and Lynden Wittstock


The next St Patrick’s couple to highlight is the Rev and Mrs Barry Wittstock. Barry has been the Archdeacon of St Mark’s Anglican Church in Cambridge, East London, since 2006. During that time, he has also been involved with St Patrick’s, especially during the last few years. In fact, he is one of our two official marriage officers and has taken many weddings here. He plans to retire shortly to live in Hogsback where he has a house where his son stays. We have enjoyed the fact that he has been able to take services quite regularly. A bonus is that his wife, Lynden, is a superb pianist/organist and plays at services.

The wedding of Barry and Lynden at the Grahamstown Cathedral on 24 June 1978; Barry’s ordination at Holy Trinity Church, King William’s Town on 1st June 1980, with his mother
Barry matriculated from George Randell High School in 1971 and gained his diploma in theology from St Paul’s College in Grahamstown. He has served in at least eight parishes in the Eastern Cape, starting with and ending at St Mark’s Cambridge. He went to Queenstown and returned there, Fort Beaufort where he was also responsible for St Patrick’s, Hogsback, Adelaide, Kidd’s Beach and Beacon Bay.  He was chaplain of many institutions. During this varied career Barry has got to know and been involved in many rural areas including being involved with Hogsback activities. He has been a part of Hogsback affairs as a landowner, a priest and has been on the board of the Hobbiton-on-Hogsback Association. During his career Barry has led social responsibility projects, been an invigilator for matriculation examinations, has led missions to other towns and many countries and has been involved with the training of ministers.
Barry, Barry’s brother, Rod holding Emily and Lynden; the Wittstock children Jonathan born in 1983 and Victoria born in 1981
 Lynden was brought up in Cradock where she went to St Peter’s Anglican Church. She studied nursing and has progressed to become a sister. Barry and Lynden married on 24 June 1978 at the Grahamstown Cathedral. Two years later, Barry was ordained at the Holy Trinity Church, King William’s Town on 1st June 1980. They have two children: Victoria born in 1981 and Jonathan born in 1983. Victoria married Wesley Luff in 2003 and they have two children, giving Barry and Lynden two grandchildren studying at Stirling.  
The marriage of Victoria to Wesley Luff in 2003 at St Nicholas Church, Beacon Bay; the two grandchildren: Kiara and Kaylib in Stirling uniform
We thank Barry and Lynden for their service to St Patrick’s over many years and for their involvement in our activities.  We look forward to their retirement here at Hogsback in the near future and assure them that they will be much appreciated. 



Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Featuring: Tandy Makalima

Tandy Makalima with her daughter, Orienda, and grandson, Enkosi
Tandy Makalima’s father was a policeman at Hogsback. She was born on 1st November 1970 in Auckland, went to the primary school and then Siyabonga High School where she matriculated. Her tertiary education was done at Fort Hare University where she gained a BSocSc in human resource management and a BComm Hons in industrial psychology. She has been working at Victoria Hospital in Alice since 1991. 

Tandy’s daughter is Orienda Makalima. She was born in Auckland on 3 July 1989. She went to the Auckland Primary School and then Nzululwazi High School in Alice to matriculate. She has a son, Enkosi, born 19 February 2014. The three of them live together and love spreading their wings by travelling. They have made trips to Aliwal North and to Cape Town where they loved going up Table Mountain, seeing the Waterfront, going by boat to Robben Island and eating seafood at Camps Bay, amongst other things. 

Tandy’s home in Auckland.  The family has lived in Auckland for generations, like so many other Mfengu people.  Tandy travels up from the valley for Sunday church services; here she chats to Norma during tea after service

Tandy posing; with friends including Hogsback; in traditional dress

Tandy is a star tug-of-war athlete. Here she is preparing for the tug-of-war; Tandy displays her award; friends celebrate Tandy’s award in the Games
The prestiguous Award ceremony; celebrating with friends
Tandy and daughter; three generations of the Makalimas beautifully dressed at The Edge
Travelling north!; playing in the snow at Hogsback
Tandy loves growing vegetables, eating them to keep her family healthy and selling them. Sometimes she brings her vegetables to sell at church.  
Enkosi in the vegetable garden; Enkosi eating his vegetables
Thank you, Tandy and family, for sharing your story with us and contributing to St Patrick’s church services. We love chatting to you after church services and hearing your news. We appreciate the dimension you bring to the congregation. 

Enkosi kakhulu