Jubilee: from the ancient code of Moses. Every seventh year there is a Sabbath year. After the seventh Sabbath year (7x7=49)comes a year of Jubilee. The 50th year is a year of freedom from what enslaves us.
Jesus echoed the Jubilee code at the start of his ministry.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jubilee is good news to the poor. Those captive to unpayable debts are released. Those blinded by wealth recover perspective. All who are oppressed - powerless to stop an Empire that robs children of their heritage and rapes the earth – are freed to act by the Spirit of the Lord’s anointing.
The Jubilee celebration is ultimately about security. The question of security is at the heart of the battle for our individual and collective souls. When we are insecure, we are ready to sell our souls short for the promise of Empire’s easy fix. We consume. We buy into economic security at the cost of an “us and them” worldview re-enforced by media-manipulation. Our fear and want buttons are pushed until we find ourselves serving gods we once thought harmless.
When we feel secure however, our hands and hearts open. We trust. We trust in the goodness of this earth, our neighbours, even the stranger. We trust that in God, there is nothing to fear. Jesus called this place - the “Kingdom of God”. He proposed a different Empire. An Empire of Courageous Love that overcomes the Empire of Fear’s seduction.
The church where I serve is entering into its 150th year as a congregation of believers. A triple Jubilee year if you like. Seven generations ago the groundbreaking work of pioneers was beginning to produce new organizations to sustain the community spirit and local economy they’d pulled from this wild native territory.
Villages and towns were being constituted; the Trent-Severn Waterway had just connected Lakes Simcoe and Ontario for commercial and military transportation. Immigrants who had arrived as penniless labourers to serve a landed gentry, were now purchasing 100 acre tracts of farmland and building homes for their growing families.
Remember. Remember says Moses in the pages of ancient Jubilee code. Remember…
When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness. Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.”
How did Moses know that we would forget? How did he know that our wealth would create a collective amnesia and we would come to believe – not that we are dependent upon our Maker for our daily bread – but that our successes belong to us, our wealth is ours alone to enjoy, and that we deserve to have more and more? How did Moses know that within seven generations we would forget to treat each day as a gift and begin to spend like there’s no tomorrow?
Moses adds these words. Hear them not as a threat or fear tactic – but simply as an explanation of what happens when we forget.
If you do forget the LORD your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.
So much of what keeps us clinging tight-fisted to today, keeping us from opening our hearts and hands is a fear that there is no tomorrow. Fear manufactured to keep us spending today.
Spending how much on H1N1 flu fears while children die every day over there. It’s either Us or Them.
We spend how much on consumer created holy days (Halloween, Christmas, St. Valentine’s. Did you know that Thanksgiving in the United States is the biggest shopping day of the year?) Shopping instead of spending priceless time making memories with one another: baking, crafting, caroling, worshiping…
Spending how much on cheap food imported with cheap fuel at the cost of Canada’s generations of farming heritage disappearing?
Spending our children’s inheritance, billions on weapons to control tomorrow’s oil reserves while today we’re already choking from the exhaust?
In the Empire of Fear, of Egypt, of Babylon, of Rome, of today - there is no tomorrow. Only today’s urgent need for greater and greater security.
In the Empire of Courageous Love, every seven years there is a forgiving of debts. Every fifty years there is to be a great Jubilee celebration; a renewal of trust in the Maker’s bounty.
And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap, or harvest. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.
You shall observe my statutes and faithfully keep my ordinances, so that you may live on the land securely. The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live on it securely.
Leviticus 25:10-12 ,18-23
This Jubilee code is all about security.
For the congregation I serve, we enter into a triple Jubilee with great hope and expectations of what GOD might do among us. It is a time to raise the trumpets about where our security truly lies. A time to honour the boundaries that our Maker has set with regards to the cycles of work and Sabbath; of wealth accumulation and redistribution.
Are there ways that we might take a Sabbath rest from the Empire of Fear. Are there ways that we might extract ourselves from the feeding frenzy of fear? What might GOD show us if we turn off the blinding lights of media and turn to our MAKER instead?
The worship music playing while I wait upon the LORD has focused me. This time spent with GOD has helped me to realize how much weight of worry I am carrying around with me. In prayer, in GOD’s awesome presence, I can feel that weight draining away from me. No wonder I get so tired. What a wonder that I can let it go without worrying that everything will fall apart if I don’t carry it around with me!
If I can let it go, trusting that God is within me, that God surrounds me, that God walks with me, wants to help me – is sending friends and resources I can’t yet see …then how much more lightly I might travel.
If the spiritual issue of Jubilee is Security, then the way to address the issue is with Time. How will we spend our time? Will we let insecurity run and ruin our health? Or will we stop, dig in our heels and choose to spend God’s gift of time in the Sabbath ways of Courageous Love?
The word Jubilee has such a fun sound to it – doesn’t it? You can’t say that word out loud without smiling.
May this triple Jubilee be a time of great joy and freedom; a powerful release, letting go of fear, and letting God’s economy renew itself among us.