By Bren Dubay
Come this October it will be three years since Koinonia published “Passing the Baton.” It was written to commemorate the anniversary of Clarence Jordan’s death. July 29th is his birthday and much of what was written in that Brief Thought still holds true.
Clarence wouldn’t want us to get all silly about his birth, life, or his death. But celebrations are important to community. Celebrations help communities thrive and, truth is, we wouldn’t be here without him. So, I hope he doesn’t mind the tip of the hat we give him from time to time.
In many ways, celebrating Clarence is celebrating all those who came before us. It is a time for story telling. A time to pass down stories from one generation to the next. And it is a reminder to hold the baton lightly. To gently wait for the day that it is our turn to pass it on. We can’t grip it tightly. The hand off won’t work so well if we do. Loosen the grip and stand ready to pass on the baton with grace.
I love baseball. There is one team in particular that I love the best … even though they misbehaved big time. More than any team I’ve ever watched, the Houston Astros seem like brothers. Watching them it is obvious how close they are, tight-knit, a community of players, a family. They talk about “passing the baton.” Each does what he can to move play along then passes the baton to the next teammate to do the best he can and keep the baton moving down the line.
A family like that is what we hope to be here at Koinonia.
Little two-year old Faith Fuller helped a grieving community receive the baton. Clarence was only 57. There was no warning then suddenly he was gone. As the first shovel of dirt fell on the pine crate where Clarence lay, the story goes that the child climbed up on the mound and began to sing, “Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday, dear Clarence. Happy Birthday to you.”
It’s one of our favorite stories to pass on. How about you? What is the story of your connection to Koinonia? We’d love to know. Please share it with us. You are part of the legacy.
Happy Birthday, Clarence. Thanks for passing the baton. We hold it lightly.