I am sorry to be posting this week’s blog at the last minute. Along with many others in the congregation who are helping out this week, I have been caught up with preparations for our very special Jubilee celebration this Sunday. As a result, I have not had time to give this site much attention. Perhaps you will have time to read this before tomorrow, or perhaps it will be of some help after tomorrow as well. I hope you are planning to be with us on Sunday for our open-air worship and picnic. I am confident that it will be an outstanding celebration. Now on to the text . . .
Levititcus 25 describes the ancient biblical practice of Sabbath years. Just as our days are ordered in weeks with the seventh day set apart as a day of rest to glorify God, so the years are ordered with every seventh year being a period of rest for the land to glorify God. After seven cycles of Sabbath years—or 49 years, the people were called to observe the 50th year as a Jubilee year—a year of celebration. Yet the Jubilee year is much more than just a year of celebration. If you have the opportunity, you may want to read the remainder of Leviticus 25. It describes in some detail how the Jubilee year is to be observed. The Jubilee year is a time to release debts, to free slaves, and to return property—land in particular—to its original owner.
In times of economic hardship, it was often necessary for someone to borrow money, to sell or lease their land, or even to sell themselves as a slave or bound servant in order to meet their obligations and to provide for their family. Of course they understood that the land of promise belonged to God and was divided among tribes and families according to God’s design. To sell and lease land was to undo that promise. For God’s people, the Jubilee year was an affirmation that their land, all that they possessed, even their own lives was really held in trust for God. Jubilee is a way for God to give the people a fresh start—a new beginning.
It is worth noting that in the midst of recession and economic uncertainty in our own day that the Bible has a solution. For those who face job-loss, foreclosures, and insurmountable debt, a real Jubilee—a fresh start—a new beginning—could be a true blessing.
As we celebrate 50 years of ministry at Huguenot Church over the next sixteen months [as someone pointed out recently, we have super-sized our Jubilee year] it is my hope and prayer that Jubilee will be a true blessing for our community of faith. Perhaps we can release each other from debts and burdens. Perhaps we can free each other from traditions, rituals, practices, and policies that enslave us. Perhaps we can affirm that all we have—our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness—is held in trust for God.
May we give of our time, talent, and treasure in this year of celebration so that the life of our church may glorify God. May Jubilee be for Huguenot Church a fresh start—a new beginning.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Rik