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!