Holland Methodist Church

Pastors Corner

Trusting God in Difficult Times

We have lived through the first month of the “New Year” so that 2021 looks now, like just another year to travel with God.

Now we travel through the liturgical period of “Ordinary time”- a break between Epiphany and Lent, a period which will continue after Pentecost. During the Season of Epiphany, we continue to reflect on the appearance of God in Jesus through such events as his baptism; his calling of and revelation to the disciples; his ministry of miraculous healings and deliverance from demons; and his transfiguration. When we resume ordinary time, we shall ponder again God’s activity in the ordinary things of life. But we shall take a break starting 17th of February, Ash Wednesday, the start of the Penitential Season of Lent, when we deliberately pay greater attention to practical spiritual disciplines such as fasting.

Last year, we covenanted to enter Lent with a period of fasting, with persons sharing in a Daniel Fast, as they are able. The idea is to take a break from some of the things like food that we ordinarily feast on, and rather to feast on God. This year, you will receive a prayer schedule, so that we can all be praying together with a common purpose.

Given our District theme Trusting God in Difficult Times: Transforming Obstacles into Opportunities’  there are two things that I invite you to put on your priority list for Lent, as we seek to trust God in giving and in sharing.

  1. One is Faith-sharing. In this time of uncertainly, one thing is certain. If we are anchored in God, we shall be sustained, and even triumph in the difficulties we face. How about sharing faith through inviting your friends and acquaintances to church? Their participation now is easier since they do not have to pay the transportation costs but can join in worship from home. Concerns about being dressed appropriately will not arise. This is the best time to invite others to worship. They have the option of leaving the gathering without any disruption should they choose to, so why not ask them to join. I ask you to invite others to the Dutch language services especially, as we can also reach those who prefer to worship in that language. Based on the response, we may be able to cater for a whole new online church that worships mainly in the Dutch language.
  • My second appeal to you is to consider tithing for Lent. “Give one tenth during Lent.” The church’s (MCCA) position on tithing is captured in a position paper posted on the website. Give tithing a try, and note the effect it has, not just on your wallet, but on your life; and then you can decide from there. We may just find that in a season of economic hardship, we begin to see God’s wonderful transformation of our financial situation. Let us resolve to trust God for this.

One more observance that falls in February is, as usual, MCCA Men’s Lord’s Day observed on the fourth Lord’s Day of February, every year. Let us show our support for the active men in our congregations, and let us also use the opportunity to invite the men who are not actively involved to participate in the life of the church. I invite each man to bring another and each class to bring an additional male. If we act on this together, there will be more men, and the truth is that we do need more males sharing in the service of the church.

Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor

Renewing Our Covenant

Sisters and Brothers,

Another year has gone by, a year like no other. Our wildest imaginations could not have prepared us for the events that we lived through during the past year, and yet, through grace, we have had passage through COVID-19 and more and have arrived at 2021. A Blessed New Year to you; and may the rich blessings of our God continue to be our experience this year.

If we have learnt well, we certainly recognise that life is God’s gift to be valued. And we can show that we place value on our lives by taking care of ourselves in the different dimensions of life – seeing to our physical, emotional and mental health as well as that of others (especially in the continuing COVID era); celebrating the social aspects of our life together ( even when virtual reality takes over) and engaging in helpful political activity ( as lockdown has shown us more of what we can and must change); nurturing our spiritual life and enriching that of others (for only in grace we do survive); and so on… Life is valuable! Let us treat it that way. Right living together is our best way of saying thank you to our Life-Giver.

While we may be hoping and praying to return to our communal gatherings, meeting together physically for worship and fellowship, let us resolve not to ignore the lessons we learnt during the 2020 pandemic. We need each other to survive. Our mistakes harm others, and not just ourselves. We have learned the importance of small gestures that show we care. We have found ways to communicate our loving concern even when we could not be together in the same space.

Let us not forget the valuable lessons learnt. Let us not expect to go “back to normal” if normal means not making the effort to show each other that we care, to communicate our love, concern, and respect for the other persons whom we had probably taken for granted. If “normal” means going about our own way in small selfish circles, without deep regard for those whom we tended to forget, then God forbid that we should go back there!

What this means, is that when we do congregate again, our coming together must bring warmth. Those who join us must feel special and welcome for being among us. Let it be said again that Methodists are “people of the warmed heart”. For when the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, it warms those around us. Our encounters with others can be avenues through which they come to see God’s love alive in humans. Let us show thanks for our survival to 2020 by showing more people what it means to know God personally.

Indeed, we can give real meaning to what we sing when we renew our covenant with God this year, praising the One “who kindly lengthens out our days” whose “providence has brought us through another [truly] various year”, when we let the following be our motto

“Our lips and lives shall gladly show
The wonders of thy love,
While on in Jesus’ steps we go
To see thy face above”.

And we make Charles Wesley’s prayer our very own:

Our residue of days or hours
Thine, wholly thine, shall be,
And all our consecrated powers
A sacrifice to thee.

Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, VIP# 503

May the Lord’s name be praised even in and through us.
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor


Sisters and Brothers,

For Christians who observe the liturgical calendar, Advent marks the start of the liturgical year. The word advent comes from the Latin for coming. During this season, the church focusses on Christ’s coming. The four Sundays before the Nativity are the four Sundays of Advent which are a time of preparation for the Nativity, the birth of the Christ child, often referred to as Christ’s First Coming or Advent. The Old Testament readings from the prophets relate to the expectation of a promised Messiah.  Advent is also a time to focus intensely on preparation for the Lord’s return at the end, often referred to as Christ’s Second Coming or Advent.

Two words are key to the church’s observance of Advent. They are wait and hope. We wait on the Lord, waiting actively, by being engaged in God’s mission in the world. That, in essence, is how we prepare for Christ’s coming as King and Judge. We live in the hope that Christ will come again, and Advent draws this to our attention.

It is usual to celebrate Advent, marking the Sundays by the lighting of the Advent candles. We share in liturgy that has been prepared for the season.

This year, as we are worshipping at home, it is a good idea to make your own Advent wreath (if this is not already part of your family tradition). You can find ideas and inspiration on the internet to make your own wreath; so you’ll be able to light your candle(s)- at home during worship on the first, second, third and fourth Lord’s Days of Advent, as well as on Christmas Day (Festival of the Nativity) when we light the white Christ candle.

One of the four candles in the advent wreath is lit on the first Sunday, two on the second (beginning with the one that was lit the previous Sunday), and so on. The individual Advent candles symbolise hope, love, joy and peace. The four are usually purple; but in some wreaths the peace candle is pink. The fifth candle, usually in the centre, is white- the Christ candle representing Jesus the Light of the world.

Joan Delsol Meade

Focus on Youth

Sisters and Brothers,

I greet you in the name of our triune God.

What a varied time the month of November is! We start with the solemnity of All Saints, mark the Feast of Christ the King and end at the start of a new liturgical year – the Season of Advent. In between these festivals, we observe the third Sunday of November as MCCA Youth & Young Adults Lord’s Day.

This year, November is less crowded as we omit Harvest Celebrations and joint worship service with our hosts at Rotterdam. Nonetheless, there is still much that makes November a month of celebrating God’s presence among us.

What we do learn more intensely as we continue through the challenges brought on by COVID-19, is that the Lord’s abiding presence is our stabilising anchor. Let us all be part of the ecumenical prayer which believers are invited to start the month with – 1st to 7th November, God is indeed our Refuge and Strength, our very present help in trouble.

Let us also support our youth and young adults in their celebration, and indeed in their whole life. I invite all members worshipping online to post online the evidence of their support during the worship celebration on  15th November. Let the young people know that we value them. Resisting Spiritual Distancing: Unmasking The Struggle is their theme for this year.

These are very challenging times for our youth; but with the support of the wider church family, they can continue growing in grace, growing in self-acceptance, growing in the service of our Lord. As I write, I am reminded that there are quite a few high school teens who have not been enlisted in Church School Classes. I invite parents to share their contact details so we can invite them to a forum where they share with other teenagers learning together and sharing the love of God. Parents and other significant adults, I’m depending on you to do your part. Just give us the details and God will lead us in the best way to reach them and win them for the Lord. Never forget that God loves them more than we are capable of doing.

Let us continue to live out Operation Andrew then, not only with adults but with our children and youth, for the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed, promised to them too.

May the Lord’s richest blessings be ever yours.

Joan Delsol Meade

Call To Minister

Sisters and Brothers,

I greet you, my partners in Christ’s ministry which has been handed to the church.

The MCCA observes the month of October as Ministries Month. Our focus is on the whole ministry that Jesus passed on to us declaring, ”as the Father has sent me, so I send you”.

St. Paul, in his writings, makes it clear that ministry is for the whole people of God. In Ephesians 4 he writes “I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” And then he states: “Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gifts”.

Clearly then, each one, every one of us is called to fulfil a specific ministry – service to God. What our specific area must be, is something we should constantly pray about so that God’s Spirit can indicate what we must do, where we must spend our energies in building God’s kingdom. Sometimes, our inner passion- the things that constantly call our attention as needing improvement, are clues. Sometimes our gifts and talents, the things we do well and sense God’s nearness while we purse them, can be clues too. Sometimes, the successes we experience while helping others grow in faith, are indicators of the work that we can do for Christ. It is true that others can often detect our strengths and can prompt us towards exploring with our leaders in the Christian faith, and with God, what our service might look like.

Some of us have answered the call to be Preachers, Stewards, Church School Teachers, and Ushers in the Circuit. All of us are called to pray and among us, some fulfil a ministry of constant intercession that goes on behind the scenes. Some of us will be as effective as Andrew was, bringing new persons to Jesus. Operation Andrew, then, needs our energies.

And there is also the call to be full-time ministers, either presbyters or deacons in Christ’s church. There are, indeed, many services to be done. Let us live in constant dialogue with our Lord that we may discover and fulfil our calling in God’s sight.

May the Lord richly bless you as you seek to pursue your calling according to God’s will.

Yours in God’s service,

Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor.

Life’s Changing Scenes

Sisters and Brothers,

All praise to Our Redeeming and Sustaining Lord whose providence has again proved sufficient for a truly varied year.

We could not have anticipated the events of the past year, and the pervasive effects of COVID-19 when the year started. However, what we affirmed as we usually do in the Annual Covenant Service, is that God’s grace will prove sufficient for all that we are required to undertake. And so, while we look back through the stresses and sudden turns, the pain and discomfort, the doubts and tears and fears of the year behind us, we can say from experience that we have come through by grace.

With this assurance from lived experience, we can commit ourselves to the Lord’s service in this Connexional year, even though we cannot predict it. Our confidence comes from knowing that God is faithful who had promised. And so, with hope-filled excitement, tingled with concerns about the new normal which surrounds us, we can look ahead to life’s changing scenes, affirming like hymnist:

Round the corners of the world I turn,
More and more about the world I learn.
All the new things that I see
You’ll be looking at along with me.

As I travel through the bad and good,
Keep me travelling the way I should.
Where I see no way to go
You’ll be telling me the way, I know.
(Sydney Carter)

We can be very sure that the Lord will supply the courage we need for rough situations, and God will remain the source and ground of the love which we are called to share wherever we are. If we are determined to travel with God into the unknown, then life will be worth it, not just for ourselves but for those whom we will encourage in faith and influence to trust in God.
Difficult situations are not ones in which we should give up the fight, but rather the times in which we work more determinedly to help others know God’s love.
So then, while the onset of COVID-19 may have thwarted our ministry plans as we presented them last year, let us know for sure, that the all-knowing, all-sufficient God equips us for what is necessary in the new normal. Let us, Sisters and Brothers, invest ourselves in ‘what the Lord calls us to do, even as we defiantly proclaim:

Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy
The praises of our God shall still our hearts and tongues employ.

Yours in God’s service
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor

Mission Lord’s Day

Sisters and Brothers,

Through grace, we have made it, almost to the end of another Connexional Year. As always, the course of events has been unpredictable. This year, however, we witnessed in unprecedented fashion, how changeable life’s situations can be. And we have, hopefully recognised how God’s provision surfaces at the turn of every change.

Yes, in the past, we have had services recorded and replayed on our website. Sure we have had a few livestreamed; but who would have guessed that with the quick notice of discontinuation of worship at Rotterdam (from where we had hoped to stream from 22nd March) that our make-shift altar at Zoetermeer would have served through Holy Week and every Lord’s Day, until the end of July, to keep us seeking together God’s face, receiving God’s word, sharing in the Lord’s Supper, and building each other up in faith?

It should not surprise us then that we can improve on the promise made last month to livestream only on certain Lord’s Days. We can improve on the promise that we could join the Amsterdam Congregation online two Sundays per month. Thanks be to God who has enabled our technicians to use the means at our disposal. Although we do not have the most sophisticated videography equipment, although we do not yet have what we need to livestream from Rotterdam, through grace we’ve upped the promise to deliver livestreamed services every Sunday of the month! The first four Sundays, worship will be streamed from Amsterdam and on the fifth Sunday, our closing Anniversary Service will be streamed from Rotterdam.

We’ve come this far by faith, knowing that God will not fail us. Let us respond in faith by dedicating all that we have and are to God’s service. Let us invest our trust, our talents and our treasures in the things of God.

It is only fitting that we observe Missions Lord’s Day this month. Let us avail ourselves to be partners in Missions. The Lord who has brought us thus far awaits requests our partnership in showing and telling of God’s love, using all the means at our disposal. May we be faithful to our stated mission.

To improve the life of the community by strengthening the commitment of our members to become mature and fruitful disciples who spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others, leading them to become productive Christian disciples.

As we endeavour, together, to embrace and to live out this Mission, may the Lord’s name be ever praised.

Yours in Christ,
Joan Delsol Meade

Moving Forward

Sisters and Brothers,

I greet you in the name of our Triune God.

It is July. The year 2020 is half-way gone! And for most of it, several elements of contemporary living were, in a sense, prescribed by coronavirus. For the last three months, communal worship was a virtual affair. Hopefully, we have found virtue in our virtual experiences, and will include, for the future, some of the virtuous things we have learned during lockdown.

Now we prepare to return to meeting in physical settings, but this will not be a universal affair, not for all members of our congregations or other interested persons who have shared in virtual worship experiences.

When we return to chapels in August, it will be according to government guidelines. In each congregation a User Plan has been prepared to guide our operations so that we can worship together while complying with the guidelines that have been set.

This means that our most senior members, those seventy and older, will still be at home. We will, therefore, continue to stream services, though this will not always be through livestreaming. Our Classes, too, will ensure that there is some monthly physical presence with members, even of by way of just two persons carefully observing rules, but still showing our love to those whom we do not see at worship.

A schedule will be posted so that persons at home will know when to follow live and when a pre-recorded service will be offered.

On Sunday 2nd August, Divine Worship with the Lord’s Supper will be streamed from Amsterdam so that housebound members from both congregations can follow that service and share in Holy Communion.  On the last Sunday, 30th August, the closing Anniversary Service will be held at Rotterdam, and this too, will be carried live as it will not be possible for everyone to attend.

Staggered attendance at worship, online Discipleship Sessions and meetings will be part of the new normal. But what we must have learned during this crisis, if not before, is that the church is a community beyond walls. It is a movement that, through thick and thin, gives expression to the compassion that we learn from our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the new normal then, through grace, we will find the means to care for each other and for some others who had been previously neglected. We will give what it takes to show our thanks to God who has kept and guided us through tough times. Let it be obvious from the way we live hereafter that our lives sing the song:

Through all the changing scenes of life
In trouble and in joy
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.

Let us look confidently to the future, difficult and uncertain as it might seem, for we certainly know who holds the future. We know that we are going through aided by the almighty hand of God whose goodness and wisdom never fail.

May the Lord’s richest blessings be ever yours.

Yours in Christ
Joan Delsol Meade

Reaching Out

Sisters and Brothers,

I greet you in the name of our ever-present Lord.

God, in sending Jesus, gave us the message of Immanuel, that God is indeed with and among us.

Jesus, the Christ, lived on earth, sharing our struggles, experiencing our pain, and dying for us. He rose from death, ascended to God’s right hand where he continues to intercede on our behalf. His return to the Father paved the way for another Comforter, the Holy Spirit who resides within and around us.
So yes, through all the changing scenes of life, including the changing phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, God has not left us comfortless.

As we prepare mentally and otherwise to return to corporate worship in a physical setting, let us resolve always, to honour God’s presence. Let us know for sure, that in our struggles to meet the changing demands of this dynamic situation, the power of God’s presence is what will guard and deliver us from whatever threatens our flourishing as God’s very own people.

The challenge for us remains how to express love of God and neighbour in practical ways while we continue to observe physical distancing guidelines. For some, this will mean continuing to stay at home even when chapels are open. In such a setting, it will be incumbent upon us to stay in touch with each other, to share faith and to comfort one another, to continue to build each other up even across the barriers of space and walls.

Every class in the circuit is called to be deliberate about maintaining the bonds of true Christian fellowship. This is far more than being physically together when we have a common meal. Even without that, we must live out our calling by looking out for and looking after each other, and we can also be alert to the needs of some we might have ignored in times past.

The pandemic has, hopefully, reminded us of our mortality, and our need to use the available time to do good. All we have is the present. Let us recognise life for the present (gift) that it is and let us present all we can in terms of goodness to help others enjoy the present (now) and sense that God is, indeed, here with us.

Yours in God’s service,
Joan Delsol Meade, Pastor

God is with us

Sisters and Brothers,

I greet you in the name of our Risen Lord.

It is May! Methodist Heritage Month, and I almost missed it! Lockdown in the COVID-19 crisis has significantly altered our May celebrations, yes- No Rally of the Classes intended to mark our thirtieth anniversary! No Aldersgate celebration! No Circuit outing!

But through it all, our faithful God has been ever near, so that we can find meaning in John’s Wesley’s last and timeless words: “The best of all is – God is with us.”

Yes, we have truly experienced God’s hands in blessing in many ways that we can celebrate. There has not been one Lord’s Day when we were not able to meet, though virtually, to celebrate the power of God’s presence, to hear afresh the message of God’s word, to pray for ourselves and others. And the numbers indicate that we have been able to share with many more than just the membership of our congregations. May the Lord’s name be praised!

This, of course, could not have happened without the sterling service of Bros. Joseph Williams and Glenn Holaman and Sis. Tasika Richardson who made all preparations, and kept the circuit website, Facebook and YouTube links available to us. We also give special thanks for the dedicated service of our musicians Bros. Matthijs Duyzer and Macintosh Richardson. Alongside them were the singers- Sis, Violet Roosberg, Edwarda-, Rodoykah-, Radiquah- Richardson, the Thomas family (Lescard, Barbara, Clifford, Shaneequa), Bro. Rolando Peters, Sis. Hyacintha Schmidt, Sis. Shurina Martina  and those still to come. We have the preachers who have served as liturgist, preacher, pray-er, storyteller, and song-leader. And little Ti-Shona Petronia has blessed us with her poem. Then there are the many who made the extra preparations necessary to read and record the word of God before live telecasts occurred. We would not have been able to share in Holy Communion as we did without the efforts of Bros. Rolando Peters and Lescard Thomas and Sis. Theresita Adolphus. Thanks to Bro. Sergio who did what was necessary so we had the Pascal candle in place for the Celebration of the Resurrection. We have had these many gifts from God.

At the same time, our children have been receiving instructions online. I say thanks to Sis. Akeimi Shigemoto and Theresita Adolphus of Rotterdam, and Sis. Alicia Schout and Theresita Bryson of Amsterdam.

In the meantime, more service continues behind the scenes, for example, to Serve the city Project in Rotterdam. We give special thanks to Sis. Lea Lynch and Sis. Akeimi Shigemoto who has been working with the Sunday School and making the Food Bank Ministry in Rotterdam a reality. COVID-19 crisis is not stopping this outreach effort, just altering the manner in which the gifts will be presented.

The Class Leaders have been doing a marvelous job, keeping in contact with their members, and reporting on their welfare. While we may not have been able to see each other physically, the social contact has been there, hopefully even strengthened in this time of social distancing.

My prayer is that when we resume worship meetings in chapels, we shall have learnt better the critical value of reaching those outside our walls. We have been called to serve God’s people wherever we can find them- which is everywhere.  It is our duty, in every way we can, to help others celebrate too, “the best of all is- God is with us.”

May the Lord’s richest blessings be ever yours.

Joan Delsol Meade
Your Pastor