By Bren Dubay
Clarence Jordan is on our minds. October 29 is the anniversary of his death and my guess is more than a few of us will stop by his Writing Shack that day. He is on our minds, too, because of The Inconvenient Gospel: A Southern Prophet Tackles War, Wealth, Race, and Religion just published by our friends at Plough Publishing House. I have read it three times and the interns and I are now working our way through it as part of their study.
There is much I have enjoyed reading this book but the stand out is that Plough has included articles and talks by Clarence that I have not read before. I’ve been at Koinonia for almost twenty years and it has been a long time since I have run across writing I had not read before. Once again, I am inspired and challenged by what Clarence has to say.
Here are some nuggets from just a couple of the chapters that especially stirred me. I hope you will read the book for yourself to see what stirs you.
Chapter 1: Impractical Christianity
Clarence’s description of what you’d do given the chance to meet Christ face to face is some of the most beautiful writing I’ve encountered from him.
Perhaps you believe you would have a conversation with him about “the many perplexing problems which plague our fear-haunted world.” No, says Clarence. No words. You would be silent.
Silence is an intentional part of our day here at Koinonia. Learning to listen, truly listen, does not seem to be something the larger culture does too easily. But we build time for silence into our day. If we choose, we can use this time to practice listening.
I was struck by Clarence’s words that “you can’t put Christianity into practice. You can’t make it work … For Christianity is not a system you work – it is a Person who works you. You don’t get it; he gets you.”
I think if we are so full of ourselves or the words of others, we may miss the Word. So, we listen. We seek fellowship with the Word. We, too, want to be with him, follow him, know him, and love him. We are open to being changed by this fellowship with him. We are open to “being gotten” by the Word.
The full quote from Clarence is included in this month’s A Word from Clarence in our newsletter but read the entire chapter if you have a chance. It is well worth it.
Chapter 3: What Is the Word of God
There is a the word of God and there is the Word. “Jesus is the Word of God. We read in the Bible that the Word became flesh. It does not say the Word became ink,” Clarence writes. I love his humor.
Scripture is a part of our daily life at Koinonia. We begin every morning reading from the Bible. We read it again at lunch. On days we have communal dinners, it’s read. There is our own private reading of it as well. But we are mindful that the Word came before the written word. Clarence reminds us that Jesus is the Lord of the Bible. He also writes that some use the Bible to take the place of the Word and thereby warns that some may be breaking the Second Commandment by making the Bible an idol.
This chapter may very well prove to be the most controversial in the book. For the members at Koinonia though, it reminds us that we must work to make the Word our flesh. As Clarence put it, “So, then, the Word must always be becoming flesh. You must take it from the printed page and make it flesh–your flesh–that the Word might dwell among you and that they might see it, see it in you as it glows among you, and give glory to the Father who is in heaven.”
Yes, Clarence is definitely on our minds and continues to give us much to ponder. He is not only on our minds but so are Florence Jordan and Mable & Martin England, Koinonia’s other co-founders. On November 26 Koinonia officially celebrates its 80th year with an Open House. Plough Publishing has given us an additional cause for celebration by publishing The Inconvenient Gospel. We hope you do too by coming to join us if you can. If that’s not possible, join us this evening (Oct. 27) for the Virtual Event to talk about the new book.