Holland Methodist Church

Connexional Bishop

Opportunities

“Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him” (John 9:4).

In the ancient world, most illnesses, calamity, diseases, and physical limitations or misfortunes were regarded as punishment for sin. This was what Job’s friends believed, as had the disciples of Jesus, who asked if a certain man’s blindness was due to his or his parents’ sin (John 9:2). The question was met with immediate dismissal by Jesus. He dismissed the link between sin and illness unequivocally, at least in this case. Jesus’ position was that this man’s visual impairment provided an opportunity for him to do or to display the works of God.

In this fallen world, good behaviour is not always rewarded, and bad behavior is not always punished. Haven’t you noticed how often terrible things happen to kind and loving people? Or how wicked people seem to prosper? Furthermore, our humanness and fallenness predispose and expose us to various experiences. John 11:4 tells us that on hearing of Lazarus’ illness, Jesus said: “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” So, the vicissitudes and changing scenes of life invite the children of God to seek for ways to do the work of God.

The work of God is to be done while it’s possible: to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers; to love our neighbours as we love ourselves; to do unto others as we would that they do unto us; to look out for the vulnerable ones amongst us — the poor, the children, seniors, sick and lame, the fatherless and widows. We do God’s work when we look out for others and lend a helping hand where and when it is needed. Then our “living shall not be in vain.”

The COVID-19 disease is having devastating effects on millions of people. Most of earth’s inhabitants have never experienced anything like this. Self-quarantine and “social distancing” conjure up images of lepers in biblical times. This dreaded disease provides us with opportunities to do God’s work. The caregivers, essential workers, first responders, researchers, those who are neighbourly, and all who risk their lives to help or care for those affected, those who, though painful, maintain “social distance” and those who are prepared to close businesses that attract many customers are doing the work of God.

The same cannot be said for those who selfishly empty the shelves of sanitizers and toilet paper for their own use, business operators who hoard essential items or increase the prices of basic goods a thousand-fold, or operate taxis and refuse to carry nurses. Such persons are not doing the work of God. COVID-19 is bringing out the best and worse in some persons.

In our present context, opportunities are available for Christians and people in general to do the works of God. Let us love and care for each other as opportunities present themselves.

POINTS/QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. What are some of the opportunities we receive to do God’s work?
2. In what ways can we help to shine God’s Light during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Thought: The work of God requires that we focus on the need, not the cause.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be willing to lend a helping hand to all who are in need. Help us not to become absorbed with the nature or reason for their situation, but to respond as you would respond. For Christ’s Sake. Amen.

Stages

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink” Exod. 17:1.
The liberation of the Hebrews from the shackles of domination and oppression in Egypt, and the journey towards the land God promised Abraham and his descendants, happened in stages, and at every stage God displayed awesome power and grace. God’s power was displayed in the infliction of ten plagues upon the Egyptians, the crossing of the Sea of Reeds and the routing of the Egyptians, in the transformation of the bitter water at Marah, and now at “Rephidim”, an oasis in the Negev, where the well was dry.

The absence of water made the Hebrews upset, and they quarrelled with Moses (v.2) and were prepared to stone him (v.4). Moses asked why they were willing to “put the Lord to the test” (v.2c). Frankly, at this stage, they should not have been trying God’s power to see if God could give then water in a dry and deserted place. They were tempting God to work a miracle for them. It is important to note that God told Moses to take and use the same staff that was instrumental in some of the other stages.

Stage here means a period or a phase. We all go through various phases on our life’s journey and development. Some phases are more difficult and come with greater responsibilities than others. In the difficulties and challenges of a stage, we must draw on God’s promises and previous manifestation of divine love, grace faithfulness and power. This outcome provides further evidence and assurance of who God is and how God reacts to, and provides for, his people in times of incredible anxiety, distress and danger.

You or someone you know and care for might be going through a stage right now that fills you with joy. You are seeing the hand of God at work, and you are eternally grateful to God for grace. Or, maybe, you or someone you know and care for might be going through a stage right now that has left you devastated and confused. Maybe you are alone, or you are separated from someone you love, and are pleading to God for divine intervention. Maybe, like millions, you are panicking as the COVID-19 sweeps across the world and fear grips us.

Whatever is the situation, we are expected to trust God. In fact, we must trust God at every stage of our lives. The expectation is that the longer we serve God and the more stages we pass through, the greater our confidence and trust in God will be. The visitation of the pandemic, COVID-19, is a stage in our lives. Unfortunately, so far, thousands have died, tens of thousands are infected, and the lives of millions have been disrupted. However, we must never lose faith and trust in God to do the impossible through human instruments. Whatever your stage, this, too, shall pass. It’s a stage.

Thought:            Our journey proceeds by stages.

Prayer Focus:   Let us pray for those seeking a cure or vaccine for COVID-19, and for those infected and affected.

Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith J.P.
Connexional Bishop

Letter about COVID-19

March 05, 2020

Dear Sisters and brothers in Christ:

A blessed Lenten Season to you!

The fast and world-wide spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a concern for us in the Caribbean and the Americas. With reports that it has reached the Caribbean and Latin America we need to become even more vigilant and engage in practices that will protect us and those with whom we interact from this respiratory virus.

The MCCA urges persons to cooperate with the authorities and heed the recommendations of your respective Ministries of Health (MoH), and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

These recommendations implore persons to:

  • Maintain basic hand and respiratory hygiene, frequently clean hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue. Throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early, and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick.
  • As far as possible avoid crowded areas.

Until the authorities say otherwise, we should continue to meet for worship and other activities. However, be mindful of the need to limit practices that will give rise to physical interactions such as handshakes, touching and hugging. The Passing of the Peace can be done verbally.

In addition, efforts should be made to sensitize persons to practice simple everyday preventive actions such as ensuring that water and soap are provided for handwashing and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizers.  Encourage persons to be aware of their health status and if necessary self- quarantine.

We trust in God to see us through this difficult patch and during this Lenten Season seek to draw near to  Jesus who “went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” Matthew 4:23.

We pray for people across the world who have been affected by COVID-19: For those who are afflicted, those whose relatives and friends have been afflicted, those who have lost loved ones, for those who are healthy yet are being restricted out of “an abundance of caution”. For those who are struggling to make ends meet and experiencing financial hardships because of economic fallouts.

Many persons are fearful and anxious, but we remind ourselves that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46: 1-3

Sisters and brothers let us continue to look to God in this time of crisis and cling to the promise that God will not leave us or forsake us.

Yours sincerely,

Everald Galbraith
Bishop, the Rev’d Everald L Galbraith
Connexional President

Signs of Hope

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel” Isa. 7: 14.

Worshipping God with the Methodist community of Grove Methodist Church on December 8, 2019, was an inspiring and fulfilling experience, and left me feeling excited and very hopeful. Guess you are wondering, “Why?” Well, I saw a glimpse of a church family. Besides adults and young adults, there were youth, children, babies and pregnant mothers. I was thrilled to see the babies and pregnant women, because babies and pregnancies are signs of hope. They speak to the miracle of conception and hope for the continuation of humanity. They are signs of God’s love and amazing grace, and awesome power to do, “exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine”.

Through Isaiah, God spoke to the unbelieving and reluctant King Ahaz, and impressed upon him the need to remember God’s covenant with Judah, and to have hope in the face of his worst fears. What was happening?

King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel, as confederates, advanced on King Ahaz’s Jerusalem. Owing to the military alliance, “the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” v.2. To provide hope, Ahaz sought an alliance with Assyria. Ahaz was warned against the need for such a confederacy, seeing that the coalition of Aram and Ephraim was like “two smoldering stumps of firebrands” v.4; they were not blazing and were about to go out.

Ahaz was unconvinced, and even rejected the suggestion that he

ask God for a sign to persuade him that God would save Jerusalem without a military alliance with Assyria. God promised a sign. What’s the sign? The birth of a baby. Yes! A baby as a sign of hope.

The problems of our age are varied, potentially causing a sense of apprehension and trepidation. We will be tempted to lose heart and seek solutions that are not divinely inspired or God-affirming. The people of God must never lose hope in the power of God to transform lives and situations. Yes! Humans have answers, but God has THE answer.

The Incarnation of Jesus is God’s resounding “yes” to earthly life and human flourishing. Christmas is the annual reminder that we need not allow situations of fear and hopelessness to tone down our aspirations or make us lose hope for a better future. The people of God should maintain an indomitable spirit of hope in God’s promise of everlasting love and a new earth. Pregnancy and birth are two of the miraculous tokens sent to remind us of God’s power to deliver.

Babies and children, by their very nature, are signs of hope. Let us hope in the faithfulness and power of God to deliver.

Thought: There are signs of hope all around. Am I hopeful?

Prayer:    Lord, you have spoken to me. Help me to see your signs of hope, and trust you.

Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith J.P.
Connexional Bishop

Message to the Connexion 2019

The completion and commencement of yet another Connexional Year constrains us to affirm and celebrate the love, mercy, grace and faithfulness of our God. In the celebrated words of Jeremiah: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lam. 3:22-23 (NRSV).

Yes! God is faithful. Oui! Dieu est fidèle.  Sí! Dios es fiel.

During last year we experienced failed expectations and miraculous accomplishments; sickness and health; joy and bereavement; growth and decline. Some experiences prompted us to make significant changes and others forced us to.  Although there were areas that needed improvement your faithfulness in your stewardship of time, treasure and talent was commendable. Through it all God’s faithfulness was constant.

In the emerging year it is crucial that we seek God’s inspiration and guidance as we “Face the Tasks Unfinished”; respond to God who is gone before us into our Galilees; and improve in those areas where we have fallen short. God is faithful in God’s love for all of creation and God calls upon us, as “soldiers of the cross”, to do likewise.

Therefore, let “faithful” be our watch word during this year. FAITHFUL!! God help us to be faithful as active or superannuated ministers; as leaders of classes and organizations; as students and teachers; as local preachers; as circuit and congregational stewards; as employees and employers; as ushers, choristers, musicians, members or whatever position we may find ourselves. Let us strive to be authentic and dependable.

IMAGINE! Just imagine what kind of congregation you would be a part of if each person is faithful to God and to the task at hand. Be thou faithful to the end. I entreat us to embrace the words and message of our 50th Anniversary song which says:

“Let’s all arise in each generation
Peace, truth and justice shall be our aim
Purse our mission in word and action.
As God’s bright future we dare to claim

God is faithful guiding our mission
Through his mercy, we are right on track
Carrying on the work of those before us
Never tempted to turn back”

 By: George Mulrain and George Roberts

God is faithful to us and conversely, we should be faithful to God and our work.
In the name of God and for the sake of Christ and God’s Church I appeal to you to be faithful.

Bishop, The Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith
Connexional President
September 1, 2019

RISING ABOVE REJECTION

The stone the masons discarded as flawed is now the capstone! This is God’s work. We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!” Psalm 118: 22-23 (MSG).

Psalm 118 contains many popular and inspiring words and phrases. Think of the reference to a stone that is rejected (NIV) or “discarded as flawed” (MSG) becoming the stone that is used to complete the building or monument. The discarding of the stone was a deliberate and intentional act of rejection. This act was premised on the conviction that the stone was flawed, not good enough, lacking the required standards. Guess what? The same stone turned out to be critical for the completion of the building.

These prophetic and practical words remind us that Jesus, God’s cornerstone for the salvation of the world, was despised and rejected by the religious leaders and the overzealous citizens who wanted peace through conflict rather than Jesus’ solution of peace in conflict. He was not just discarded and ignored, he was spat upon, slapped, booed, mocked, lied about, scourged, and killed.

This rejection was most painful because it was his own people who rejected him. They discarded him because he was not speaking their language; he was not of the right pedigree; he was hanging out with the wrong crowd and he had the wrong address.

Unfortunately, rejection is common. Teachers, parents or neighbours, pastors, the church, selectors for a football or cricket team, all engage in acts of discarding others as being unfit or simply not good enough for a task. Many persons have been deemed hopeless, irredeemable, valueless and unlikely to turn into anything good, but by God’s grace have become inventors, trailblazers, ministers and successful professionals. Haven’t you heard of some?

Not everyone will become the capstone, but everyone can make a valuable contribution to life, if given a chance. It will require a willingness to accept what each one has to offer.

So, if you are ever rejected by anyone, regard such rejection as “merely a redirection; a course correction to your destiny” (Byrant McGill). Numerous persons have intentionally grappled with rejection and it resulted in a redirection of the course of their lives. In fact, one could dare to say it was the best thing that could have happened to them. Furthermore, there are many who can testify to the fact that a rejection resulted in doors being opened to a whole new world.

In order to rise above and overcome rejection, it is necessary to have a strong sense of self-worth and the mindset to refuse to accept the definition and limitations others place on us. We are all made in the image and likeness of God with immense value and great potential.

Thought: See rejection as redirection.

Prayer:    Gracious God, show mercy to those who have been discarded. Help me to make myself vulnerable for you, to love them through me and give them hope.

Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith J.P.
Connexional Bishop

A Word In Time!!

“No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).

The Israelites were camped along the east bank of the Jordon River, the edge of the Promised Land, while completing the period of national mourning for Moses, their liberator and statesman.

With their visionary leader dead, the newly independent nation needed someone who would continue to lead them. Joshua, one of only two living eyewitnesses to the Egyptian plagues and the exodus, and Moses’ confidant and personal aide for 40 years, was seemingly well prepared for leadership.

God, aware of the secret and public thoughts and intentions our hearts, knew that Joshua needed support. He needed a word.  God’s words (Joshua 1:5) must have been like sweet music to his ears.

There are moments on our journey when we know God is with us, but when we also need to hear from God. We need a word from the Lord when we are being given new responsibilities; when we are deciding if someone is the right person to be our life-long partner; when deciding which house to purchase or which community to live in or which school to send our child; or whether or not to do the surgery; or if we should take the new job or remain with the one we have. These and many more are moments when we want to know that God is with us; but we also want to hear from God, even if it is just “God is with you” or “Your pain will turn into joy” Jn 16: 20.

We may not be called to lead over two million persons or to conquer nations; but we all face various tough situations, difficult people, and fierce temptations.

In his crisis, Zedekiah asked, “Is there any word from the Lord?” (Jeremiah 37:17) because he needed a word from God.

Andrae Crouch wrote a lovely song entitled “We Need To Hear From You.” It goes as follows:

We need to hear from you
We need a word from you
If we don’t hear from you 
What will we do?
Wanting you more each day
Show us your perfect way
There is no other way
That we can live

God will often speak before, during or after we have asked. Listen carefully because sometimes God will speak in a “still small voice”.

THOUGHT:     If God leads you to it, God will lead you through it.

PRAYER FOCUS: Ask God to speak to your situation.

Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith J.P.
Connexional Bishop

Confidence

“Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward” Hebrews 10:35″

The book of Hebrews in the Bible was written to Jewish Christians who were undergoing severe persecution, socially and physically, both from fellow Jews and Romans. They were also struggling to remain faithful to this new way rather than slipping back into their traditional beliefs and practices by drifting away from Christianity. Their new faith had cost them dearly.

Heb. 10: 32-34 says: “But recall those earlier days when…you endured a hard struggle with sufferings… publicly exposed to abuse and persecution… For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting.” Yes! The writer reminds them to hold on and not throw away the confidence they have in Christ, because such confidence carries with it a great and glorious compensation.

The loss of confidence and the temptation to quit are common human experiences. A boxer knocked down in the first round; a teacher threatened by students and parents; a farmer suffering at the hand of thieves and a minister struggling with an unco-operative congregation are a few illustrations of persons who might have been tempted to quit.

As I lay on my bed in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Ireland, in 1979, wracked with pain after being struck in my right eye by a football, I questioned the accident having answered the call to become a minister of the gospel. I still remember suddenly humming Andraé Crouch’s song “I’ve Got Confidence.” Next year will be 40 years since that accident. My eye is still not what it used to be but I maintained my confidence in God and God brought me through.

We need to persevere with confidence during trials, doubts and persecution so that we can complete the will of God for our lives. We need to rest in the confidence we have, through faith in Jesus Christ who enables us to carry on. We should disregard everything that hinders us and run the race set before us, looking only to the magnificent finish line (Heb. 12:1-3).

Do you have the confidence that Jesus is going to see you through and fix it all for you?
Chorus from Andraé Crouch’s song “I’ve Got Confidence” says:

…, I’ve got confidence
God is gonna see me through
No matter what the case may be
I know He’s gonna fix it for me

Thought: With confidence in God, we are winners.

Prayer Focus: Pray for those who are contemplating quitting the race.

Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith J.P.
Connexional Bishop

Becoming Vulnerable For Christ

It was raining “cats and dogs”.  We had just concluded the launch of Operation S.A.V.E 50. In keeping with Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of political independence and our District sub-theme to “Nurture the Children: Build the Kingdom” the 27 Methodist Circuits in Jamaica are asked to make every effort to S.A.V.E. (Secure, Appreciate, Value, Encourage) at least 50 children during September 2012 to August 2013.  Hundreds were gathered in Providence Methodist Church for the project launch.

The rain was getting heavier. I observed two ladies standing close to each other. “Are you awaiting your transportation?” I asked. “No Rev! We came with the bus but cannot go out to the bus stop”, was the reply. “Where are you from?” I asked. One said, “Waterhouse”.  It was now past 8:00 p.m. “Come, I will take you home” I said. “Can you carry all of us”? she asked. “How many of you”? I enquired. “Thirteen” was the reply.  The trunk was packed with stuff so with eleven children on the back seat and two adults and I in the front we set out.

It was a frightening ordeal. The journey was long, frightening, adventurous and dangerous.  A few times I panicked, sang, prayed and questioned the wisdom of embarking upon such a journey in this context. On reaching Three Miles I was forced to stop. The water was too high, the vehicle shutting off and water entering the vehicle. Fearing the worse we paid some men to push us across the deep. After more scary moments it was home sweet home for my passengers and much, much later for myself.

I have learnt a few crucial lessons for life. Don’t refuse to ask questions of adults or children who appear to need help. When I ask I must be willing to do something depending on the circumstances. Sometimes helping others can make us vulnerable.

Christianity teaches us that saving others can result in pain and suffering. The hymn says: “We may not know we cannot tell what pains he had to bear; but we believe it was for us he hung and suffered there”. To S.A.V.E. our children will require some questions, faithfulness, sacrifice and vulnerability. To S.A.V.E our children demands that we learn to follow our spirit and not our intellect.  This does not mean we are going to be foolhardy. When the water was too much on one road I turned and used another and when it was too high and getting into the car I stopped and asked men pushed us across. That was wise and obedient to the spirit.

Christians are often required to embrace vulnerability for the glory of Christ and the wellbeing of others. Ministry will often take us into unfamiliar places and beyond our comfort zone. The Bible and Christian history is replete with examples of the vulnerability of servants of God.

THOUGHT:               Is God requiring vulnerability of you

PRAYER FOCUS:    For faith to believe God is with us in our vulnerable moments.