The Holland Circuit leads the Leeward Islands District in daily devotions for the period 25th – 30th July 2022. Today it is led by Bro. Matthijs Duyzer.
Click on the following link to view the devotional, https://youtu.be/ZEa2joqHHHU
Sisters and Brothers,
Through God’s never-failing grace, we have arrived at the fourth and final quarter of the Connexional Year.
Indeed, it has been a year of challenges, mostly those ushered in in the era of COVID with its demanding protocols. Challenging as these might have been, we must admit that it has been a year of learning. We went through a steep learning curve, discovering that we can continue worshipping together while inhabiting different spaces.
This is something that should have seemed obvious to us, a people who profess that God is everywhere and with God’s people everywhere; yet it took a pandemic that forced us to be physically distant from each other, to learn that in spite of not being able to dance and sing together, we can still pray and praise ensemble.
The pandemic increased the reality of human need everywhere- material, psychological, social and spiritual. It showed us clearly some needs that we might have missed or not realised how serious they were. While we were in lockdown, the telecommunications media showed us real needs that call for our attention. These are instructions for our future in ministry as we serve God in a COVID and post-COVID world. We will be without excuse if we continued to plan without paying sufficient attention to the needs that we have come to see clearly.
It is really time for a rewind. While I do look forward to my earned sabbatical rest, I know that, together, we must all approach the tasks of ministry with new fervour in the new year. Let us near that in mind as we wrap up 2020-21. But the year is far from over. I anticipate that you will have a refreshing experience under the leadership of Rev’d Damien E. Hughes during the fourth quarter.
During this quarter, even as we return to physical buildings for worship, we will miss the third Sunday worship in Dutch which is usual for Rotterdam since they do not have access to the sanctuary on first and third Sundays. This absence will allow us the time to review and come to a clear understanding of what we hope to achieve in these services. We have been catering largely to our children and young persons baptised into the faith as Methodists. Should we broaden our outlook and seek to cater to more children and young persons in general? If this is our desire, then we need to plan deliberately.
The Mission and Evangelism Committee, when it meets in early September, then, will not only be seeking to guide the implementation of initiatives we discussed during the Discipleship programme Reaching New Persons for Christ. We must also give organise more concretely for the online congregation that we have been considering.
As we look forward to relaxation of some anti-COVID regulations, we are encouraged to think, not of going back to normal in the sense of going back to life as it was before the arrival of the 2019 novel corona virus. Good stewardship requires us to focus on a new normal in which we apply the lessons we learned during the past year and a half. Only in so doing will we fulfil our calling to serve the present age.
Yours in God’s service
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor
Brothers and Sisters,
Now we are into May. Methodist Heritage Month is here.
Why do we pay such special attention to our rich Methodist Heritage at this time?
Is it because some time way back, in May 1738 our founders John and Charles Wesley had life changing spiritual experiences that, in the Providence of God, gave birth to a movement that came to beknown as Methodism? Of course, that has much to do with it.
I, however, want us to focus on a branch of Methodism that gained autonomy in May 1967. That is the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas. We are ever reminded that this church spread like wildfire throughout many Caribbean islands and American mainland territories largely through the work of lay people who took their faith with them.
It was something like the spread of the early church as Christian converts fled persecution and went from one place to the next in search of refuge. In the case of Caribbean Methodism, the first outpost of Methodism outside Great Britain, people moved in search of economic opportunity. As they went abroad to work, they shared faith and the Methodist movement spread. Laymen and laywomen have been movers and shakers in Caribbean Methodism.
When the Methodist people in Holland chose to remain a part of this Caribbean Church, I believe, they were seeking to perpetuate this part of our heritage- the strong involvement of the laity.
So, I remind us of our emphasis on the Priesthood of All Believers. Every member in Christ has both the privilege and responsibility of bringing others before God. As a priest, each one can represent God to others and bring others before God. There is work for each one in the church to do. Each one can be a John Wesley of sorts.
Why do I say that? John felt his heart strangely warmed and went out with a passion for bringing others to God. My prayer is that each one of us, feels the fire of God alive within us, so that the Caribbean Methodist hymn (from Haiti) applies, and can sing
I’m on fire for Jesus, I’m aflame for Jesus.
There’s a fire burning in my heart;
Every thought and action fuelled by his passion,
I’m ablaze and burning in my heart.
May the fire of the holy Spirit be shed abroad in our hearts as we celebrate what the Lord has done for us. Let us, in grateful response for the rich heritage that is ours, move on so that the sacred fire will burn in others too.
May the Lord’s richly bless us as we seek to pass on this great heritage to the glory of God.
Yours in Christ’s service Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor.
“Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the churchsins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seventimes” Matt. 18: 21-22.
Forgiveness is a conscious, intentional decision to release feelings of bitterness or retaliation towards a person or group who has harmed you, irrespective of whether they really deserve to be forgiven or not. We often hurt or offend others, be it consciously or inadvertently. Consequently, one of the most urgent needs in communities, churches, families, offices, and workplaces, is forgiveness. This is a common need, irrespective of race, creed, age, or stage in life.
Jewish rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offended them three times. It was a common subject in Jesus’ teachings and interactions. Considering this, Peter, wishing to be exceptionally generous, asked Jesus if he should forgive an offender seven times. Jesus said not seven but seventy times seven.
In the parable of the forgiving master and the unforgiving servant, Jesus tells us that God, the master, forgives because God is gracious and compassionate. God will not treat us as we deserve. The Psalmist said: “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered” Psalm 130:3-4. What is required is honesty and repentance. John says: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:8-9. This demonstration of grace is limitless. We forgive seventy times seven and keep going.
Unlike the recently-forgiven, unforgiving servant in the parable, who refused to walk in forgiveness, we should forgive those who hurt us not because they deserve it, but because we have been forgiven and must therefore show compassion towards others; it is also good for our spiritual, psychological, and physical health for us to forgive. I agree with Nelson Mandela that: “When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive.” Forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger and a festering wound. It empowers the forgiver to acknowledge the wound and pain suffered without allowing that hurt to define him or her, enabling reconciliation and the strength to move on. The forgiven must walk in forgiveness.
Forgiving others who have hurt us is not easy, because it is much more than saying “I am sorry” or glossing over or denying the seriousness of the offence. For forgiveness to become a permanent attitude rather than an occasional act, we need the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to empower us. That’s why Alexander Pope said: ‘To err is human; to forgive, divine’. You and I need the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to be forgiving persons.
As we go through this Lenten season, let us ask God to enable us to walk in forgiveness.
Thought: An unforgiving heart displeases God.
Gracious God, cleanse the depths of our hearts and eradicate all resentment, so that we can be reconciled with you and our fellow human beings, and that our lives can spread your peace.
For Christ’s sake. Amen
Sisters and Brothers,
We look forward to the grand Festival of the Resurrection with its ever-renewing message, its many reminders of the awesome power of God who gives us victory even over the grave and hell. Notwithstanding, as we ponder how awesome God is, we may still feel that nagging sense of inadequacy, that we are simply not good enough to do the good that the Lord requires of us. We are mortal creatures who have not fully experienced the power of Christ’s Resurrection. What can we, mere mortals do?
A whole lot, I say, if we take seriously the biblical assurance that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. In Christ, the weakest of us can say ‘I am strong.’ And in the strength of Christ, we can find grace enough to do exactly what the Lord not only requires of us but enables us to do. We can be God’s showpieces as we live out purposefully like the lights that we are called to be. As our stories show others what God can do with the weakest of persons, they are encouraged to let this same God work in their lives too.
This brings me back to our lent focus on sharing faith. We have been reminded of the value of our testimonies, telling our stories, that is, to make our boast of God. The idea is not to boast about ourselves, but about the God who raises us up, encourages the timid, lifts and transforms the fallen, renews the faithful – God who makes the weak strong.
Of course, when we pray for those to whom we testify, we start off on solid ground. That’s why, as we resume Operation Andrew with renewed vigour, we must start with prayer. We pray for those whom we befriend as we recognise their need of that special relationship with the Liberating Lord. Operation Andrew is relationship-based evangelism. We can show others what real friendship is like; and while we speak to God about them, possibilities arise for us to share enriching fellowship. We can invite them to church – thank God the churches are fully open! Operation Andrew Lord’s days will resume.
So, are you still thinking that you can’t be an Andrew? If you have tasted the saving love of Jesus, then you must know that it’s worth sharing with others. The desire to share faith is what the Lord asks of us now. If we feed that desire by seeking God’s help, we will surprise ourselves. I recall my own timidity and fear of just speaking about God. I hated it! I wanted out of that state! I prayed about it. God changed me. God changes for the better everyone who seeks the courage to share verbally. You don’t have to be a preacher or teacher sharing faith with several persons at a time. Maybe you’ve been cut out for one- to-one sharing. Yes, you can be an Andrew. Pray about this. Seek God’s help and I know that if you do, God is going to wonderfully surprise you!
As a movement of believers who share faith in this way, we shall touch many lives including our very own. We shall get a stronger touch of Christ’s Resurrection power at work in and through us- and all this to the glory of God.
Oh that we may know and show the power of the Risen Christ to save!
God bless you
Yours in God’s service
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor
Sisters and Brothers,
We are entering the Penitential Season of Lent. As I have done in previous years, I invite us to be deliberate in paying greater attention to practical spiritual disciplines. This year, I encourage us to consider especially two disciplines that are critical to our growth as Christian disciples – the practices of sharing faith verbally and of giving materially. Through these ministries of word and of deed, we exercise power to enrich both our lives and the lives of others.
As anti-COVID guidelines are being relaxed, we can anticipate more persons returning to in-person worship services and fellowship events. Without putting anyone at greater risk, we can be more deliberate now about inviting our friends and acquaintances to worship. In this setting, we can encourage them to celebrate the goodness of God as we have been experiencing it through these very difficult times. We can make the necessary preparations to resume Andrews Lord’s Days. But part of this preparation is about our engagement in sharing faith with others, speaking to them about our life with God. Even for those who will not attend in person events, we will continue to livestream worship services, so you can encourage those with whom you share to be part of this. As was true for during lockdown, it still obtains that their sharing can be easier and less costly since they do not have to pay the transportation costs if they join in worship from home. Then we can follow-up with them and discuss faith related issues in a more systematic way.
The other Christian discipline I wish to emphasise is that of giving. All confirmed members vow to support the church financially, to give to the work of ministry, not just of the local church but globally. Let us be reminded of our confirmation pledge.
I pledge myself to join regularly in worship and fellowship with other Christians, to seek for a deeper experience of Christ, to bear witness to him in daily life, to seek to win others for him, to be methodical in prayer and bible study, to be present at and share in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as often as I can, to give a substantial part of my income to his work and to the mission of the church abroad. I promise to be loyal to the Methodist Church, to support it by my prayers and my participation, and to give personal service to my Church and my community in so far as I am able.
Lent is as good a time as we can have to live out or to revive our practice of giving – not infrequently and grudgingly but voluntarily, regularly, liberally and systematically as we are admonished to in 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7.
6 the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Yours in God’s service,
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor
Sisters and Brothers
A Blessed New Year to everyone!
We have made it, through grace, to the year two thousand and twenty-two! Let us press on!
Indeed, God is with us. The past year with its varied experiences were full of opportunity to prove the Lord’s faithfulness and abundant love for his people. And so, we need never despair, even when difficulties arise, as they sometimes will this year. With God as Provider and Protector, Director and Deliverer, we shall not encounter anything outside the scope of God’s power to sustain. Nearly two years of a persistent pandemic underscores this fact. Let us resolve, then, that when we go through periods of sadness, struggle and testing, we will hold on and like the psalmist affirm: weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning. (Ps. 30: 5b).
COVID is not over yet. We sense it; but neither is God finished with us. Let us continue to anticipate that, even through difficulty, life with God is a sort of adventure; for we travel with One who has gone before us and knows the way through what may seem like a maze to us. When we don’t know where to turn, we know that God does. So let us stay close to this unending source of Wisdom for the guidance we need to negotiate successfully this coming year of living.
Just as there will be tough times, there will be seasons of gladness. Let us celebrate them as God’s gifts. But pleasures often give way to pain which seems to last longer because of the adjustments required and demands placed on us. But every season has its value, something we discover as we trust God into the future.
Every day brings its fair share of steps to be taken, decisions to be made. It can be daunting, yes. However, when we look back and remember how God’s hand has guided in the past, we can claim the assurance that our faithful God continues to travel with us.
Let us stay on track and press on with God, keeping fellowship with God so that through the changing scenes ahead, the peace that surpasses understanding will be ours. Let us not forget God’s promise, “I will never leave you.” Through 2022, let us ever remember that our faith journey is made possible by the God of grace. It is God’s doing, not ours. Yes, we must decide to live for God, but when we do, let us not fool ourselves into believing that we can do it without God. Our weaknesses might betray us. What we can be sure, will not fail, is God’s ability to equip and sustain us as we believe. With God, all things are possible Matthew 19:26).
May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13) as together we press on towards our destiny in God.
Yours in God’s service
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor.