Dear Family of St John’s

My paternal grandmother had a great talent for anything dramatic. She studied drama at university and, so the story goes, would have travelled to London to pursue drama if it weren’t for the war. My youngest son’s acting genes definitely come from her!

She also gave speech and elocution lessons. One of my favourite memories involves the car trips with my gran to and from town to the farm. We would chat about all sorts of things. And she would give me funny sentences and rhymes to repeat after her and memorise. I didn’t realise at the time that she was probably trying to counteract the Eastern Cape accent I was developing!

Do you know any of these?

‘Betty Botter bought a bit of butter. “But,” she said, “the butter’s bitter. If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter. But, a bit of better butter will make my batter better.” So, she bought a bit of butter, better than her bitter butter.’

Or, what about, ‘She sells seashells by the seashore, the shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure. So if she sells seashells on the seashore, then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.’ (Try saying that one quickly!)

I’d also have to repeat after her, with the correct pronunciation and rounded vowel sounds, ‘how now brown cow’. And, ‘the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain.’

I thought these were the most wonderful games, little did I know she was training me!

You might wonder what on earth I’m getting at this week. Well, the ‘rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain’ (from My Fair Lady) has been swirling around in my head the last few days. My husband and I spent a night at Assegaaibosch this past Sunday. It was a wet and raining 24hrs while we were away.

I had hoped to manage a walk or two, but it was far too wet. We’ve all been praying for rain, for an end to our drought. And, we’re all rejoicing that our dam levels are looking much more positive. I’m also starting to hear, ‘Where’s Spring? When will the sun shine again? My laundry never dries!’ We have overcast and rainy days forecast for days on end.

Driving along the R62 near Kareedouw, there were times we could barely see the mountains. The misty rain was so heavy that the mountains were almost obscured.

Life can feel a little like that sometimes. We can feel enveloped by the daily challenges we face, the rising cost of living, the turmoil we see played out globally on the news. We see the crime, lack of maintenance and repairs to infrastructure. We feel despondent, helpless, angry.

It might seem as if the mountain – our sure, solid foundation – has disappeared in the gloominess.

But, although at times I couldn’t see those huge mountains through the rain and mist, I always knew they were there. I never thought they’d disappeared.

God never disappears, He is always there. Even when the world looks like it’s gone mad.

The God of Jacob is our Fortress

I want to share the words of Psalm 46 with you. It’s a Psalm that I always draw comfort from. It reminds me of Who God is – His unshakeable presence and power, His authority. It’s a Psalm affirming our trust in the Lord. Perhaps you’d like to read it as a prayer, and use ‘my/me’ instead of ‘our/us’?

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’

11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

When it feels as if it’s always raining and cold, and that summer will never come (metaphorically speaking, of course) remember that God is right there with you. The problems might not disappear immediately, but we are better able to deal with them when we remember the Lord’s presence.

With love

Your friend and rector