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Wandering West Word

As we draw closer to our year-long Centennial Celebration, we will have time to reflect upon our past. A lot has transpired to enable this congregation to reach this milestone. And if we are bold enough in our faith, there is little reason why we would not be able to witness God’s love in this community for another hundred years. Within our timeframe, there has been a number of churches in our community that have come and gone. Only a handful of churches can lay claim to being about as old or older than the city of Haines City. But I am convinced that one of the secrets to such longevity is that these congrega- tions have been missional-minded or have returned to that mindset upon realizing their mistake.

Years ago, Henry Joel Cadbury, a devout Quaker and Professor of Divinity at Harvard, rose in a Friends Meeting for Worship and said, “There are two kinds of Friends in our Society, and two kinds of people in the world: there are therefore people, and there are however people. Therefore people say, ‘There are children going to bed hungry in our community. Therefore….’ and they proceed to devise and define the ways in which they meet the need in their community. However people make the same beginning statement – ‘There are children going to bed hungry in our community’ – but they follow it with, ‘However….’ and they explain why nothing can be done about it.

Cadbury exhorted his Quaker community, especially its leadership, to try the “therefore- however” exercise by continually coming up with need statements derived both from their faith community and the wider community in which they lived. “We must improve race relations in the city of Boston,” he said, and then asked what their response would be – a therefore response, or a however response. “There are elderly people in our parish who can’t get to church on their own…” What response would they give, a however or a there- fore? Cadbury, who was also serving as Chairman of the American Friends Service Com- mittee, went on to say that the world – and the Quakers – needed fewer however people and more therefore people for God’s work to be done on earth as in heaven.

Nevertheless, just because we ought to be therefore people doesn’t mean we have the em- powerment to live thereforely. The however always lies close at hand. To be therefore people, we have to abide in Jesus. This intimate relationship with Jesus will form the foundation of all ministry. Instead of looking for loopholes or excuses as to why we can- not serve one another, we will be too busy looking for opportunities God gives us to serve. I am indeed blessed to serve as your minister in a therefore congregation!

Gary

September 8, 2017 Pastor’s Page

I’m back!!! And ready to be back! I have covered thousands of miles, traveled overseas for the first time, met up with some wonderful folks, read a dozen or so books, enjoyed time with my wife and my family, and worked on myself – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It will still take some time to digest everything I have experienced over the twelve weeks I was out on sabbatical.

In one of the magazines offered by AirCanada, the airliner we flew on to Athens, there was an article that asked the question: Can we still visit ancient ruins without ruining them? From our initial hotel in Athens where we were within walking distance from the Parthenon to my visits throughout Turkey and Greece where the apostle Paul and the beloved disciple John traveled, there have been strict laws in place as to how much of an archaeological site can be dug up. Since the excavations are painstakingly slow and tedious and are taking place during the summer months of the year only, it takes quite a few years to expose ruins that lie twenty-two feet underground or more. And then there is the cataloguing, the reconstruction, and the finances.

We came across a site that was using drones to mark the area. We also visited a couple of sites that had year-round workers on or near the site but the majority of the sites had been excavated for more than fifty to over one hundred years and work continues at a snail’s pace. The magazine article stated that some 30 million people visit Greece each year, a large portion, no doubt, to explore the ruins. Turkey probably doesn’t receive as many visitors but the numbers continue to rise in Turkey as folks from Japan and Russia have found it to be welcoming.

Time and time again we were told that they best way to preserve the ruins was to keep them buried, and I suppose that is why they have limited the amount of land that can be excavated. But to see the ruins up close and touch them is a lot different than standing on top of a field, not realizing that underneath your feet was once a bustling city, complete with temples and marketplaces. In the article, the writer referred to a Hindu concept, darshan, roughly translated as the spiritual benefit gained from seeing an authentic thing. I understand the writer’s intent.

There is absolutely no way to gain this sensation from looking at a picture in a book or reading stories about the land. Through the sabbatical, I have been granted this opportunity to have this experience that not everyone gets to cherish. Thank you for such an opportunity and thank you in welcoming me back!

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

August 9, 2017

This Yakima Indian mother was proud to show me her little son, wrapped warmly and securely in a blanket on his papoose board. With every movement she made, the little shells dangling around her son’s head made a tiny jingling sound. She laughed at my delight and then explained that the sound of the shells was to keep the evil spirits away. (more…)