Dream word – RICH
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” NKJV
Chocolate, churches and Christ
As i write these thoughts, I am visiting Louisville, Kentucky at the moment, a city which prides itself on its College sports. I flew in recently, late on a crispy clear dark winter’s night, to find it’s American football stadium lit up like a Christmas tree, packed to the gunnels with cold and screaming fans. The Louisville Cardinals were at play on their well supported and intimidating home turf of The Ville! Getting to go to school, going to college, is an honour and for these big football scholarship boys, made even bigger still by protective packing, it is a very big deal indeed. To the TV-watching millions though, denied the opportunity by simple lack of funding, it grates somewhat that muscle and speed, put simply in the right place at the right time has brought the chosen few an excellent education.
Now, if you think not being able to pursue an education through financial lack is tough, then imagine a world in which because of your religious beliefs you were not allowed to attend any form of higher education and neither were you allowed to enter into any profession such as medicine or law! This was indeed the case in 19th century England for any members of the Quaker movement, which was founded by George Fox, over two centuries before but unlike those times, has today come to embody, faith, integrity, equality and simplicity.
The Quakers, a once marvellous Christian sect, denied by government these simple rights and having not many lucrative sporting opportunities available at that time, pursued the only other avenues available to them, that being, creating good personal businesses! Many of these good and gentle folk took them to becoming the best business entrepreneurs ever produced in England. For sure, many of their fledgling companies are today still carrying high value stock in the global market place. One such entrepreneur was a Quaker called John Cadbury, the inventor of the finest chocolate ever produced on this planet. Indeed, did not Paul himself speak of “the mystery of the chocolate, which even the angels desired to look into?” Maybe not, but he should have!
John Cadbury looking at 19th Century England, saw the evils of the addiction of alcohol as being the main source of poverty amongst the poor. Being part of the temperance movement he took social action by choosing to invent a drink, which would become a substitute for alcohol. These replacements were, hot cocoa and hot chocolate and I must confess, that I have been addicted to them both ever since I first tasted them!
John Cadbury had seven sons and it was Richard and George who continued to build the business, moving it to a suburb of Birmingham England called Bourne brook. Here they again made revolutionary changes to their product, its production and most importantly of all, their workforce! Here they gave birth to a model town if you will, a Ville, a living place so extraordinary for its time that Bournbrook became Bourneville and its flowing dark richness would permeate the whole world and that my friends is by no means a silly understatement.
Here at “the Ville”, in the darkness of England, an astonishingly bright revolution in community housing took place in terms of mutual respect, high wages, pension schemes, excellent living conditions, organic vegetable gardens, places for sport, recreation, reflection and recovery. It was quite simply, Christ in the Cadbury family that brought these “heaven on earth” conditions to the dark industrial factories of England. Today, Bourneville may be the only town in the United Kingdom that has no pub but it has three things we all need and those are chocolate, churches and Christ.
Tonight then, let me leave you with three dark pieces of chocolate goodness for your consummation and consideration.
First that your unfair and unrighteous circumstance may in fact be squeezing you into an entrepreneurial, profitable and life-giving direction. This is no bad thing! You might end up giving Quaker oats to a starving world!
Secondly, that your relationship with Christ means very little to this world and even to heaven, if it has not got legs to go and feed the poor, to change the world and to glorify the God of heaven. The Gospel has always been a social Gospel.
Thirdly, that the Cadbury ripple of Christian good works, once cast into the sea of humanity, is still travelling and changing the world, maybe even the galaxy as we know it, even today. Goodness has a knock on effect, even from generation to generation.
Dear friends, just what ripples of creamy goodness are you sprinkling upon this most needy of seas upon which we sail together.
Listen: “I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, Like the tents of Kedar, Like the curtains of Solomon.” - Song of Solomon 1:5 NKJV
Pray: Lord may all our works in every place, be rich and dark and beautiful to You, in Jesus name I ask it, amen.
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