I’ve wondered this week what Clarence Jordan would say about the bloodshed in Charleston. As the co-founder of Koinonia, the communal farm where “The Class of ’65” is set, Clarence faced hatred and racist violence for years: bombings, shootings, an assassination attempt. Through it all, the Southern Baptist minister maintained his belief in nonviolence and loving one's enemies. But no one died at Koinonia during the terror years of the 1950s. What would he have to say to his fellow clergyman, Clementa Pinckney, whose killer succeeded where Clarence’s failed, and took eight others as well? This passage gives us a clue; it comes from “Clarence Jordan: The Substance of Faith And Other Cotton Patch Sermons”:
“Even though people about us choose the path of hate and violence and warfare and greed and prejudice, we who are Christ's body must throw off these poisons and let love permeate and cleanse every tissue and cell. Nor are we to allow ourselves to become easily discouraged when love is not always obviously successful or pleasant. Love never quits, even when an enemy has hit you on the right cheek and you have turned the other, and he's also hit that. Love continues to forgive not only when a brother has sinned against you seven times, but seventy times seven. Love doesn’t quit or give up on a man whether he be a Communist or a Kluxer. Christ showed us how far love would go when he prayed for those who were driving the nails into his hands and said, ‘Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re up to.’”
I hope the Rev. Jordan was there to welcome the Rev. Pinckney to heaven. I’m sure they have a lot to talk about and pray over.