Clarence Jordan’s sermons “Judas” and “The Man from Gadara” are now available to purchase in our online farm store! Communications Coordinator Katie Miles reviewed both sermons for their online debut.
Clarence Jordan’s sermon “Judas” is a character study of one of the most infamous characters in the Bible. He sets out to provide another side, “another motivation,” to the one who betrayed Jesus. Jordan sketches out Judas’ background as one from Judea, the center of religious life for Jews in the first century. He builds this narrative of Judas all the way up until the moment of betrayal and Judas’ tragic death. Jordan provides a vision of hope and reconciliation for even the vilest traitor by first complicating our idea of “traitor.” For those familiar with the story of Judas, Jordan offers a different idea, a way of looking at the story from another angle to better understand it. By using his sacred imagination and his down-home Georgia experiences, Jordan breathes new life into an ancient story. In doing so, he offers an invitation for his listeners to imagine a new story for themselves or those around them. Jordan calls Judas the “broken, beloved disciple.” We can identify with Judas as broken, beloved people ourselves. We can also see Judas in our neighbors, trying to do the best they can, broken and beloved as we are. This is the power of Jordan’s work, whether it is in his sermons or his Cotton Patch translations. It is an invitation to imagine ourselves, our neighbors, and those in the Bible as fully fleshed out people with complicated motivations. Most of all, it reminds us to view ourselves and those around us as “broken, beloved” people whom Jesus is eager to reconcile to himself and to one another.
“The Man from Gadara”
Clarence Jordan preaches “The Man from Gadara” in his iconic Georgia drawl. He uses all his talents for storytelling and sacred imagination to connect the man often known as the “Gerasene Demoniac” to the story of the Prodigal Son. Though Jordan preached this sermon in the late 1960s, listeners in the 21st century can immediately hear Jordan’s incisive critiques of the materialism of his culture as critiques of their own culture. He doesn’t pull any punches or let any of the characters off the hook for their behavior. The vivid story he paints is so compelling that the listener does not need Jordan to tie the sermon up in a bow with a life application lesson. Instead, the portrait Jordan’s words painted echoes in the heart even after he is finished speaking. Readers of the Cotton Patch Gospels will recognize Jordan’s characteristic creativity and empathy as he draws the modern listener into the ancient world. The healing, restoration, and ultimate reconciliation of The Man from Gadara provides a blueprint of how we can work together with Christ to heal, restore, and reconcile ourselves and our neighbors one with another.