Saturday, November 26, 2016
Looking Forward to December 4, 2016 -- Advent 2, the Promise of Jubilee
This being the first Sunday of the month we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Communion.
The Scripture Reading this week is Isaiah 61:1-11
The Sermon title is Jubilee!
Early Thoughts: Free the slaves! Cancel the debts! Liberate the oppressed!
Scripture shows us that God has some strange ideas. Particularly where economics is concerned. Scripture [specifically Deuteronomy 15] shows us that God advocates for Sabbath years, a time where debts are cancelled and slaves are freed. And in Leviticus 25:8-55 God commands a Jubilee year on the fiftieth year (after a sabbath of sabbaths) when not only is the land left fallow (which hopefully has happened at other occasions as part of good land management) but all land is returned to the families to whom it originally belonged [Jewish families that is, not the Canaanites from who it was wrested to be distributed amongst the people of Israel]. Read about these rules for yourself here. Together the Sabbath year and the Jubilee year make a statement about freedom, about economics, about how we build a caring society.
As far as I have ever heard, there is little evidence for the Jubilee year happening on a regular (or even ever) basis. I suspect the rules of the Sabbath year were at best unevenly followed as well.
But what if they were? Would that be a sign of God's Kingdom breaking into the world?
I think Isaiah has Jubilee-plus in his mind in chapter 61. The year of the Lord's favour will certainly be a Jubilee year. The time when all will be set right is certainly a sign of (and a call for) Jubilee. It will be more than that though. Not only will land be returned (land is life in many cultures) and economics made level again but there will be healing and rejoicing and freedom. This is what it means to look for the Kingdom of God. We look for Jubilee.
I invite you to read Luke 4:14-31. The beginning of the public ministry of one Jesus of Nazareth. How does he begin his ministry? With Isaiah 61 and the year of Jubilee-plus. When God breaks into the world Jubilee comes. To Christian eyes Isaiah 61 is a foreboding of Jesus, a foretelling of what is going to happen in the life of the man from Nazareth.
Where do you see signs of Jubilee in the world? Do you see any?
What would it mean for Jubilee to become a reality here and now?
Is that the path to actual peace in the world? Is justice a pre-condition for peace?
Christmas is coming, are we ready for the world to be changed?
Are we ready for the possibility of Jubilee?