Gospel of Matthew 10:24-39
24“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25it is
enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they
have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign
those of his household! 26“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that
will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27What I
say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim
from the housetops. 28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two
sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from
your Father. 30And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31So do not be
afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32“Everyone therefore who
acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in
heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father
in heaven. 34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not
come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his
father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in- law against her
mother-in- law; 36and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever
loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not
take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Those who find their life
will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
The fire of God’s love, inclusion and justice has sparked fear, hatred and
even violence. God’s ways exposes abuse, selfishness and toxic attitudes and
behavior – and people respond when they are exposed and their power threatened.
Jesus knew well this reality. He encouraged his disciples to trust in the one and
only God who knows the number of hairs on our heads and loves us. He inspired
his disciples to pursue their mission of calling people into relationship with the
God of love. At the same time, Jesus prepared his disciples for inevitable adverse
Professor Greg Cary of Lancaster Theological Seminary (the following is
taken from texweek.com, 2008) reminds us of the mid-20th century Christian
disciple Clarence Jordan. “He was an agriculture major at the University of
Georgia and held a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary, where he also earned a PhD in New Testament. It was said that he
always read and translated the New Testament from the original Greek. For me,
His understanding of Jesus and his passionate, personal faith in God led Dr.
Jordan to found the racially integrated Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia in
Clarence Jordan may be familiar to some through his Cotton Patch
translations of the New Testament or because Habitat for Humanity originated
from the Koinonia Farm.
The mission of the Koinonia Farm is stated today on their website: “We are
Christians called to live together in intentional community sharing a life of prayer,
work, study, service and fellowship. We seek to embody peacemaking,
sustainability, and radical sharing. While honoring people of all backgrounds and
faiths, we strive to demonstrate the way of Jesus as an alternative to materialism,
militarism and racism.”
As you are well aware, racial integration conjured up great resistance,
especially in the South. Clarence & Florence Jordan, their family and those
associated with the Koinonia Farm were often threatened by gunshots, death
threats and other forms of violence. They were ostracized by neighbors and told to
leave by the KKK. They responded with prayer, nonviolent resistance, and a
renewed commitment to live the Gospel.
When the Koinonia community tried selling peanuts from a roadside stand
the Ku Klux Klan dynamited the stand. Stubborn like most saints for justice,
Jordan put up another stand. It got blown up too. Finally, the Koinonia Farm
resorted to mail-order ads with the words: ‘Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia’.
(Derived from Millard Fuller's foreword to Ann Louise Coble, Cotton Patch for the Kingdom:
Clarence Jordan's Demonstration Plot at Koinonia Farm (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2001),
The mail-order business continues to sustain the Koinonia community today.
Clarence Jordan knew resistance. Yet, Dr. Jordon’s relationship with Jesus,
his understanding of Jesus’ teachings and Jesus’ vision for this world gave him the
faith, determination and courage to keep forging onward. His mission of giving
God’s love, peace and justice opportunity to spread and transform the world is very
much alive today in the Koinonia Farm, Habitat for Humanity and beyond. Thank
you, God, for Clarence Jordon and other disciples of Jesus like him.
By our baptism we receive a new identity. Our primary identity becomes
‘follower of Jesus Christ’. It is a life long journey of nurturing and shaping and
living in relationship with Jesus, the revelation of God’s love.
Today we will welcome Graham Bergmann into this new identity and pledge
to support him, his parents and godparents.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are not expected to do great things. Rather,
God expects us to faithful in living our identity – being who we are – children of
God following the examples and teachings of Jesus and sharing God’s love with
We have the privilege of working hand-in- hand with God so that God’s love,
inclusion and justice may permeate not only our lives, but the lives of all God’s
children throughout the world.
Yes, there will be resistance, even from sources unexpected. Yet, with
God’s help and being grounded in God’s love we can impact this world in dynamic
and desperately needed ways. So, claim your identity and find your life and
purpose following Jesus.