By

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

responses.

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,

that’s impressive.

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

1942.

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),

11.

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

the world.

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.

 
St. Paul's is located at 33 W. Dixon Ave, Dayton, OH 45419; phone: 937-293-1154; fax: 937-293-3723 Office hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.