It’s Time To Share Stories of God’s Jubilee – Will You Join Me?

The abundance of Jubilee

The Abundance of Jubilee

This last week I have spent a lot of time preparing the programme for our upcoming Celtic retreat  on Camano Island.  Our theme for this year is Jubilee and new beginnings.  Some of my research I summed up in two blog posts last week – Celebrating Jubilee – Much to Look Forward to and Jubilee in Christ – Sound the Ram’s Horn.  

When I talked about this with our song leader he commented:

I love the idea of Jubilee but so few people actually know what it means and only a handful of people in the history of the world have ever tried to seriously practice it. It’s a nice sentiment but if we’re going to sing about jubilee, I’d rather it be about how I’m going to live it out. Without that, it seems like empty sentiment.

And its true.  Jubilee is nothing if we only talk and sing about it.  The wonder of Jubilee and Christ’s proclamation in Luke 4:16 – 21 where he announces his purpose is amazing. The gospels are not just about proclamation of Jubilee however they are about bringing it into reality here and now.  Christ didn’t just talk about Jubilee he practiced it in all his actions – opening blind eyes, feeding the hungry, setting free the oppressed are all very concrete expressions of Jubilee.

But is it true that only a handful of people in the history of the world have ever tried to practice it?  I don’t think so.  The trouble is that we rarely acknowledge or rejoice in its practice.  I have seen the Jubilee of God break through into our world in so many places – sometimes small, sometimes overwhelming in their splendour, but often overlooked or passed by in their significance of God breaking into the world.

The message of Jubilee was brought home to me again during the sermon on Sunday when our rector John Leech talked about the miracle of the loaves and fishes.  Jubilee is about caring and sharing.  It is about recognizing that the little we hold in our hands, what we so often want to hold onto for ourselves, in God’s hands can miraculously be transformed and become provision for the whole world.   Any offering we make to God is inadequate – like small loaves and fish, but at the table of God it is transformed into a banquet feast – bread from heaven becomes bread for the world.  Oh the wonder of God’s Jubilee.  We can all live into now, today as I wrote in my morning prayer

Come and eat what God promises

A banquet of plenty bought without money or price

God’s grace poured out in justice and mercy

Where we see lack open our eyes to see abundance

God’s generosity poured out in bounty and goodness

When we hold to ourselves open our hearts to be transformed

God’s love poured out in caring and sharing

Food for the hungry, released for the captives,

Let us proclaim God’s Jubilee

So it’s time to share stories of Jubilee .  

To be honest every time I go out into my garden during this summer season, I am awed by God’s promise of Jubilee.  The abundance of squash, beans and fruit at this season can be overwhelming.  There is bounty just not for us but to share lavishly.  But there are other stories of Jubilee that I love too.

One of my favourite stories of Jubilee is this one from Hackney England – Reclaiming the Jubilee.

Another which made a deep impression on my life is this one from my days on the Anastasis:  The Generosity of God – Fish and Loaves for All 


But I have also seen the Jubilee of God break through into the economic and political systems of our world.  For example The Jubilee 2000 movement which campaigned to see the debt of the poorest nations in our world cancelled did have some success.  And then following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, partly due to pressure from the Jubilee project, the IMF cancelled Haiti’s debt to it.  Now I know that did not solve the problem but we need to recognize the presence of God in the midst of what was accomplished.

I see Jubilee too in the growing concern for fair trade often generated by concern for how the poorest of those who produce our food and clothing are treated.  And I see Jubilee in the lives of those who reach out daily to feed the hungry, heal the sick and seek justice for the oppressed often with little regard for their own well being.

The principles of Jubilee are alive and well in our world – where do you see them in your life and work?

One Response

  1. Jubilee is a rather adversarial word when you come to think of it. its not a nice topic over the fire place after a nice dinner. seen from the perspective of the poor, its an urgent topic and because of that, it should create some discomfort among us to say the least. jubilee when examined closely can actually be done only by the rich. and God has not super agenda in the bible to help the world’s poor, only the poor inside Israel and inside the church after Israel failed as God’s witness. God commanded that there shall be no more among us Christians. what we have done, devious people that we are, is separate the poor christians from the rich christians. if only the church would agree to stop doing that and bring the two together, jubilee would happen or at least start. the rich countries have so much wealth but not one has ever given the agreed upon 0.7% of gross income to the poor. the rich church has not either according to Ron Sider. a mere 1% would ease poverty a long way. all the food waste thrown away by america will stave world starvation deaths. if all rich churches took one poor church and lived according to what the bible says, the world would change overnight. Paul said, he who gathered much did not have too much and he who gathered little did not lack anything. With 10% of the world owning 90% of the wealth, a lot of things can change with that one verse alone. John said, he who has a surplus of the world’s goods and finds a brother (christian) in need and does not provide for him, does the love of Christ abide in him? this is not about salvation, it is about spirituality. true spirituality affects the poor. the rich needs the poor to authentic their spirituality. but when we separate the rich christians from the poor christians, this verse becomes obsolete moot and academic because we cannot see the poor anymore. Pastor in Tampa once said, americans know how to give but not share. to give is to make the recipient an object of one’s charity, sharing means God owns all that i have.

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