A few people have asked why I call this blog Hello Jubilee.
It's because I am in that particular phase of my life I call the "Season of Jubilee" and I want to greet it with a happy voice of welcome.
Perhaps I need to explain what Jubilee is. Well, the concept of Jubilee is found in the Bible, as part of the instructions given to Moses regarding how the people of Israel were to live and work once they had entered the Promised Land. There were rules for living from day to day and month to month and year to year. But, once every fifty years came a year that was to be lived differently from all the others. That year was to be called the Year of Jubilee.
The long version of the instructions for the Year of Jubilee can be found in Deuteronomy chapter 25, with rules about sowing and reaping, buying and selling, coming and going, being and doing.
The short version, however, can be summed up much more briefly: the Jubilee year was a time for rest and restoration, for forgiveness and freedom.
In the Year of Jubilee, the people weren't supposed to do their usual work. They were supposed to rest. They were supposed to return to their families, to forgive and be forgiven from all kinds of debts, to release and be released from all kinds of bondage.
In terms of how the concept of Jubilee applies to me (and you) personally - well, I'm approximately fifty years old. And I sure could use some rest, restoration, forgiveness and freedom.
I think the principles of God always work at any level. When I read about the Year of Jubilee in the Bible, I decided that, if Jubilee was a good idea as a kind of generational "system reboot" for an entire socioeconomic system, it would probably be helpful to little old fifty-something me in my everyday middle-aged life.
So I decided to have a Jubilee, with one adjustment. While the Biblical Jubilee was exactly one year long, I know I will need at least several years, maybe even up to a decade. Because, God knows, I'm always a slow learner and I always need more time.
When I started writing this blog, I was just about to turn fifty, but I wasn't at all happy about it. If you're a Seinfeld fan, you may remember that Jerry used to say hello to his neighbor, Newman, with a disdain verging on repulsion. "Hello Newman," was what Jerry said, but you could tell what he meant was, "Go away, Newman, I despise you."
Well, that pretty much describes how I felt about my upcoming fiftieth birthday. I might have pasted a grim smile on the outside, but my inside was saying, "Go away, Fifty. Go away, Jubilee."
Once it actually happened, though, and I turned fifty anyway, I began to realize that this Magical Mystery Tour of Midlife is a beautiful gift and, if I wanted, could be the start of a wonderful adventure. I began to think that being in my fifties, and experiencing a personal Season of Jubilee could be one of the best things that could happen.
So I said hello to my Jubilee with anticipation and excitement rather than repulsion. I said hello and I opened my arms in welcome. Thus, the title of this blog.
When I think about the good gifts of Jubilee, though I'm always aware of all the difficult things that happened before the Jubilee. And I'm always aware that the rest, restoration, forgiveness and freedom of Jubilee wouldn’t be special – in fact, it wouldn’t even be necessary – if it wasn’t for all the hard stuff that led up to it.
For the people of Israel, before the Jubilee there had been many years of hard work, many years of mistakes, of resentments, of injustices. Before the Jubilee, there had been years spent wandering in the desert, and years spent in slavery to cruel and oppressive masters in Egypt.
Before the opportunity for rest and freedom cane a lot of hard work and bondage. It was like that for the Israelites, and I’m sure it’s like that for you, too. It's certainly been like that for me.
I’ve had years without rest and years of mistakes and years of unfairness. I've had years spent in bondage to alcohol, food, approval, perfection, and other cruel and oppressive masters of my own making. I've had years of wandering through the self-imposed deserts of personal fears and famines and financial insecurities.
God led the Israelites out of slavery, through the desert and into the Promised Land, and He taught them how to live. And He's doing the same for you and me today. He's leading us into a Promised Land and a Promised Life of abundance within, and He's proclaiming a Jubilee of freedom and rest.
So, I don't know about the rest of you, but if that’s what Jubilee is all about, then I'm in. If God is offering rest after fifty years of restlessness, if He is offering freedom after fifty years of bondage, and if he is offering eternal abundance after fifty years of imagined famine, then no wonder I say “Hello Jubilee!”
IN FUTURE POSTS: Thinking about each of the elements of the Season of Jubilee - rest, restoration, forgiveness, freedom, and God's paradoxical abundance.