Holland Methodist Church

Pastors Corner

Christian Stewardship

Sisters and Brothers,

A month has already gone by in the new Connexional Year! I trust that we are travelling with the Lord, from the old things to the new, as the hymnist Sydney Carter suggests we do.

It is October, the month we agreed to focus on Christian Stewardship. Apart from what we will do in Bible Study, the focus for the five Lord’s Days is indicated on the circuit plan:

2nd – Stewardship of Time
9th– Stewardship of Talent (Gifts)
16th– Stewardship of Life
23rd– Stewardship of Money (material Resources)
30th – Stewardship of Earth’s Resources

A good place to start is to ask and answer the question, “What does it mean to be a steward?”

A steward is a manager, a trusted servant, responsible for seeing to the affairs of the employee. In the Bible the steward was responsible for such things as administration- purchasing supplies, overseeing the other servants, keeping records. The Greek word for steward, oikonomos literally means “manager of the household. “

The idea of stewardship is rooted in God’s Word. This biblical concept includes the idea that God is the architect of an entire household. To be included in this household means participating in the new life which emerges from God’s constant process of creation. A place in the family of God implies devotion to the welfare of all who are included.

As Christian Stewards, we recognise that:

  1. God is Creator and Owner of everything. The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it (Psalm 24: 1) This principle is seen clearly in Genesis chapters 1 and 2;.
  2. Human beings are called to be managers- stewards of God’s world. (Luke 12: 16 – 21)
  3. The human is not the owner but is given dominion over all that God created and owned. (Gen. 1: 26ff); Gen. 2: 15)
  4. Human beings are responsible and accountable to God for the management of God’s creation, including the very life that God has entrusted to us. (Mat. 25: 4 – 30; Luke 12: 42 – 45)

God has honoured humans, giving us a part to play in creation. We have been placed in the God’s Garden to “dress it” and “keep it.” (Genesis 2: 15)

The Bible shows clearly that we are all stewards to whom God has entrusted such gifts as life, time, varied abilities or talents, material possessions including money, the gospel, our relationships at home, at work, in the church, etc, health and the environment.

What then is Christian Stewardship? Christian Stewardship is man’s recognition of God’s sovereignty over creation and is a grateful response to God’s manifold gifts. Man’s response is expressed his dedicated and creative use of all these gifts towards the fulfilment of Christ’s mission in the world.

Christianity is a response to the love of God as revealed in Christ and expressed in terms of proper stewardship of all the resources available for the sustenance and enrichment of life. Christian Stewardship is humankind’s grateful and obedient response to God’s redeeming love, expressed by the resources for the fulfilment of Christ’s mission in the world.

Let us endeavour to be good stewards who do not take God’s gifts for granted, but rather, live in grateful response to the one who so generously gifted us.

May we always praise the Lord, even as we use our gifts to the glory of God.

Yours in Christ
Joan Delsol Meade
Pastor.

Commencement Connexional Year ’22 – ’23

Sisters and Brothers,

Through grace, we commence another Connexional Year. The assurance is ours that the grace that saw us through last’s years complexities is more than enough for all that is to come. All that the Lord requires of us, the Lord will enable us to fulfil. For this though, we must be ready to discern and available to follow the leading of God’s Spirit.

Life in Christ is not always easy, but rather, often demanding. The District’s theme Trusting God in Difficult Times: transforming obstacles into opportunities, reminds us of this. In the context of challenges we shall face during the year ahead, we need to prove not just to ourselves, but to the communities we serve, that we are a church. We are registered as such – a movement of people committed to sharing in God’s mission in the world.

This means that we have taken on, in both an ecclesiastical sense as well as a socio-political sense, the imperative to do mission. We agree to serve the world beyond the walls where we meet for communal worship and fellowship. We must come to church, yes; join in fellowship with believers, yes; learn the faith, yes; be constantly praying and growing in grace, yes; but there must be more to us than that. Outreach is key. We must go out and make disciples as our Lord commands. This we do through Christian Service and Witness.  We cannot ignore those who are not part of our present fellowship for it is to those whom we are sent. We are sent out to love and to serve and as we do, some will love in return.

Therefore, with COVID distancing in perspective, we resume Operation Andrew- friendship based evangelism. Everyone can be an Andrew leading another into friendship with Jesus. How you do that depends on your special gifts. The Bible teaches that each one of us is specially gifted. With your gifts, you will serve and win persons to whom others do not have access. You have what it takes because you are God’s special gift to somebody else. Don’t belittle what God can do through you. It is in our weakness that God’s perfect strength is realised.

It might sound a bit cliché when we say “Little is much when God is in it” but please put your little gift of love and friendship into the Operation Andrew basket. We will all look back with grateful hearts as we rejoice, “See what the Lord has done!”

Let us follow the Lord as the Spirit of God leads us into a world needing to know more of God. We can show that love through service and witness.
For God’s sake, let’s just do it.

Yours in God’s service
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor

Good Stewardship

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

On fire for Jesus?

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.

Looking Towards Resurrection

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

The Penitential Season of Lent

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. 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

A Blessed New Year

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.

First Sunday of Advent – Hope

Sisters and Brothers,

It is Advent again. A new liturgical year has begun.

Notwithstanding the changes and challenges experienced through twenty-one months of dealing with COVID-19, time moves on. We are moving toward the fulfilment of God’s plan. The Advent Hope, which we hold as Christians, is ever before us.

Even now, God is calling us to greater things, to do and be better than we ever dreamed, to always keep moving towards the very best. We can move confidently into God’s future as we acknowledge God’s hand guiding, providing, protecting and delivering in the past. Yes, we can recall the good in the past for reminders that stimulate hope. Then we anticipate that God will lovingly take us forward in time. For this we ought to cooperate with God’s Spirit.

Knowing that the Lord walks alongside and with us in the present is truly enabling. We recognise that God who has kept us in times past, who is alongside us in present successes and struggles, is the One whom we know in Jesus Christ- the same yesterday, today and forever. This gives us every reason to willingly put our future in God’s hands.

So then, Advent brings past, present and future in an unending scheme of things that are under God’s control. Recalling past good, and celebrating God’s presence in the now, are the bases for our confidence in what is to come.

So, no matter how challenging the present might be, hope is our watchword. And as a people of hope, we must certainly bring hope into situations that would provoke hopelessness in others. Advent is a good time to act decisively in bringing help, hope and heart action that can change sad hearts into thankful ones. Let us do to, with and for others, as much good as we can to show the love of God. Causes will be mentioned in our gatherings. Let us take them seriously. And be as generous as we can with our time, actions and service supported by our prayers. We can trust God to let the very best issue from such offerings. In God is hope and hope is alive!

This, this is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend whose love is as great as His power
And neither knows measure nor end.
‘Tis Jesus, the first and the last, whose Spirit shall guide is safe home.
We’ll praise Him for all that is past,
And trust Him for all that’s to come.

Joseph Hart (1712-69) VIP#29

Yours in God’s service
Joan Delsol Meade

Good Stewardship

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

Trusting God In Difficult Times_2

Sisters and Brothers,

We are well into the penitential season of Lent, a good time for theological reflection and deepening of our spirituality. Although we do not have in-person gatherings these days, I do sense, from your communications, that we are making the effort, both individually and corporately, to draw nearer to the Lord and to stay in love with God. That is commendable.

This is indeed a challenging time as the COVID-19 crisis becomes protracted and such measures as physical distancing will continue for longer than we had hoped. However, we must always bear our District theme in mind- Trusting God Through Difficult Times: Transforming Obstacles into Opportunities.

Just as the health challenges provoked by this crisis stimulated the efforts of governments, benefactors, medical researchers and technicians to develop a family of vaccines, the first of their kind, to address current needs, so too must we respond and put our resources to work for good in God’s world. Let us, as we are led by the Spirit of God, be on the lookout for opportunities and new possibilities for Christian service. As we look inward this Lent and seek improvement in our spiritual fitness, let us not forget that service in our changing context remains the best avenue for working out our faith in God. Yes, let us pray more. Yes, let us give more- (I hope that someone new took up the challenge to tithe). But above all, let us serve God with all we’ve got; and that means serving others.

Let us not allow our spiritual muscles for praying, giving and serving to get rusty while we wait for things to “get back to normal”. Remember, a new normal awaits us. Things will never be the same again. The lessons that we are learning now are for our guidance into God’s future. Let us learn well and be prepared to act on what we learn.

Do the best you can as a Class Leader or Assistant Class Leader, or in whatever office you hold. Only do it better because you will now apply the sensitivity, skills and confidence you have acquired through life with COVID-19. This month, we start a round of statutory meetings. Maybe you have been newly appointed to an office / a committee. Come prepared to share. Come prepared to approach your task with the confidence that our God who has called you, is with us now, enabling us through the present difficulty to serve better than we did before. Let us trust God and be available to learn more and to serve better; and there will be no telling what God is going to do. The hymn writer, William Cowper (1731-1800), had this to say:

God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs and works his sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take. The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.
Voices in Praise # 266

Look up, even as you look around at the harsh realities we experience, as we encounter those grieving the death of their loved ones who were hurriedly taken away by death, as we meet those whose employment situation is worse that it has ever been, as we are questioned by those who believe that God had forgotten us.

Look up, I say, Sisters and Brothers, let us expectantly await God’s future; and even in the era of COVID-19, that future remains bright to the glory of God.

Yours in Christ’s service
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor.