(Leviticus 25:10-15 NRS).
If you ask my family and close friends, they’ll tell you I’m a little strange when it comes to scripture. I never shy away from preaching the Old Testament. I readily quote it and use it for illustrations in everyday conversation. Weirdest of all, I read Leviticus for fun. Yeah, who does that? Even I acknowledge how odd that is. Maybe if I were a Jewish Talmudic scholar sure, but I’m a thirty year old Christian. It’s just that there’s so much going on in the Old Testament, even Leviticus. Like the year of the Jubilee; it happens every fifty years and it’s a marked time for renewal of land, social status, finances, you name it. It’s a good thing and a time of rejoicing. In other words, party time. Just knowing that every fifty years things would go back to the way they used to be before people sold their ancestral land for money, got into debtor’s slavery, or were in hock up to their eyeballs. Things would be made right and people whole once more. Now that is something to celebrate.
The more I reflected on this notion of jubilee, the more I decided that I was going to revive it. I haven’t come across many people outside of the most strict streams of Judaism eager to revive Jubilee, or much else from Leviticus for that matter. So what might a neo-Jubilee look like? For each one it might look a little different, but mine will take place when I turn fifty. So in 2030, I plan on having a party to invite all my family and dearest friends, oh and my enemies. Those people I can’t stand. Maybe they’re people I just don’t click with and so we clash at every turn. Perhaps they are those that I feel have wronged me over the course of my life or wronged those I love. Whomever they are, they’re getting a lovely invitation to come and receive my apologies. That’s right, receive MY apologies. They don’t need my forgiveness. They need my acknowledgement that I have contributed to our fractured existence, our state of disassociation. I can’t say that I have done all in my power to win over my enemies. I can’t sit here an honestly claim that the inner parts of me want to. But I’m a Christian, and if I am going to follow Jesus Christ all the way to the cross and to the Resurrection, then I am going to have to humble myself. Even if I only do it once in my life, I’m going to do it. I figure it’s going to take the next twenty years to grow a back bone long enough to actually go through with this, but if anything, I have a strong will.
What would that actually accomplish? Maybe nothing. I am realistic. What makes me think my enemies would even come to my party? There’s a good chance they won’t, but I made the effort; I tried. That’s a huge part of being a Christian: trying, making the attempt. We’re going to get it wrong. We are going to slip, fall, and even fail. But even when we look certain failure in the face, we give it a try because Christ calls us to do so. The Apostles were told that they would die for following Jesus and they still did it, knowing exactly what the cost would be. Am I going to die for my faith? Probably not, but I’m going to live like I’m all in, because I want to be. I want to stand in front on my Maker one day and have no regrets. Not because I didn’t make mistakes, not because I didn’t fail, but because I can say that I tried. That’s what Jubilee is about; living life by taking risks and knowing that even when the chips fall and we lose a hand, we can still be restored. In twenty years, I have every intention of celebrating that promise of restoration like I’ve won the lottery. Despite my gambling metaphors, Methodists don’t gamble, but we do know risk. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is risky, and I don’t do it for the promise of a payday. I do it because I know what it’s like to be forgiven, granted Grace, and redeemed. Why wouldn’t I celebrate that, and invite others to the party? Consider this a “save the date” card.
(Image courtesy of zazzle.com)
Lord of All,
You shower us with love.
Surround us in forgiveness.
The redemption we have been given is more than we could have dreamed.
In you, we are made whole,
Renewed and restored.
Help us to extend that to others.
Assist us in sloughing off our egos, our fears, our reservations.
Open us to new ways of being in relationship with those we consider our enemies.
If we do not, then why should you look upon us with favor?
Jesus came to show us the way.
We have seen and heard,
Now may we act.
In accordance with your will.