Leviticus 25: 8-14; Luke 4: 16-30
In today’s passage, as God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, Moses declared a Jubilee as God’s will—every fifty years a person must give back to the people. Jubilee was a concrete, material, and economic act that was undertaken with discipline and intentionality. It was neither just a kind giving nor a good charity nor a religious action. It was about ethical and faithful action, proclaiming that God is an ultimate owner and master of money and property.
Jubilee was an act of divestment. This practice of divestment is exceedingly difficult, especially when folks do not want to do it. Because we do not want to divest for the sake of someone else. We do not want to return to someone else what we have been able to acquire. What is mine is mine, not theirs.
Well, the most dramatic resistance to Jubilee is reported in today’s other passage, the gospel of Luke, chapter 4. People who listened to Jesus who just proclaimed the message of Jubilee were filled with rage, and tried to kill Jesus by throwing him off a cliff, and Jesus barely escaped. Yes, it was a real resistance.
Every year at this time, we probably have been doing this business of Jubilee—proclaiming that God is an ultimate owner and master of our money. Giving a regular offering or monthly tithe is neither a kind giving nor a good charity. It is a faithful and ethical action for believers that is undertaken with discipline and intentionality. Yes, it is likely an act of divestment.
Some of us might still wrestle with inner voices—“Well, how may our pledges may impact the kingdom of heaven on Earth in Stephenville?” I’d like to remind us that our pledge, including money, time, service, and love--can initiate the remarkable effects as the wolves changed the river.
It is not a matter of how much we contribute to this church or not. But, it is a matter of how much we love God and are concerned about God’s people, and how faithful we can practice this business of Jubilee by breaking the cycles of accumulating more and more—which seems to be tempting and even natural for humans.
I truly pray that our congregation, small in number, may transform by bringing God’s kingdom on earth in Stephenville. And our pledges—no matter how much it is—sometimes feel like an act of divestment; however, we are the ones who have a different and large vision of the tomorrow—trusting that divestment will soon become investment for the transforming future.
As the Israelites listened to the signal of the ‘yobel’ for every fifty years, I invite us to listen to our signal which is Jesus Christ and our Jubilee, so that we continue participating in the business of Jubilee, keep building God’s kingdom as a kingdom engineer--the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the poor have their debts canceled.
Thanks be to God.