“Our Max Yasgur Moment”


Here are my thoughts which will be on the “Back Page” of the Fishkill United Methodist Church for this coming Sunday, 8 September 2019, the 13th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C).

I am pretty sure you know who Max Yasgur was and what he said to the multitude gathered on his farm that Sunday some 50 years ago (In case you didn’t, here is a link to his speech).  But I am more interested in what he said to his neighbors before that Sunday that interests me.

He faced opposition in many forms to the idea of renting out his farm.  But he wanted to give the organizers a chance.  While we would, as he himself would, say that he was a conservative, he also had a different view of things.

Another farmer with a different view of things was Clarence Jordan.  In addition to a degree in agriculture, he also had a Ph. D. in the Greek New Testament.  His agriculture background and commitment to the Gospel lead him to begin what we call the Koinonia Farm.  His doctoral work led him to write the “Cotton Patch Gospels”.

Because the farm was in Georgia and integrated, there were numerous encounters with the Klan.  After one incident with the Klan, Mr. Jordan asked his brother Robert  to be the community’s attorney. Robert declined, saying that such an effort would ruin him politically (he would later become a Georgia state senator and justice on the state Supreme Court).

Clarence asked his brother if he was a Christian and reminded him how they had both stood at the altar of their church and accepted Christ.

Robert said that he followed Jesus but that he was not willing to go to the Cross.  Clarence said that he wasn’t a disciple of Christ but rather a good admirer of the man (https://heartontheleft.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/hold-on-now/),

This is where we are today.  Are we willing to stand before the world and say, “I am a Christian!  I may not want to do the work before me, I may not want to feed the hungry; I may not want to find shelter for the homeless or clothes for the needy; I am in no position to give comfort or support for those in pain and I certainly do not want to fight oppression and persecution.  But that is what I am called to do and that is what I shall do (see the remarks made by Will Campbell in https://heartontheleft.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/let-us-finish-what-we-started/).

This is, if you will, our “Max Yasgur moment.”

~~Tony Mitchell

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