Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 93; 150, Leviticus 25:1-17, James 1:2-8, 16-18, Luke 12:13-21
If you know anything about agriculture, you probably know “fallow” earth is ground that has not been seeded for at least one growing season, for the purpose of letting the land recover moisture and reduce disease. In Leviticus, God commands the Jews to observe a Sabbath for the land, leaving it fallow one year of every seven.
God also commanded a Jubilee observation every fiftieth year. During this Jubilee year, debts were forgiven, property was restored, and slaves were returned to their families. The nation did not sow or reap, but lived off what the land produced on its own.
Every seven days a Sabbath. Every seven years a fallow year. Every seven times seven years a Jubilee. God’s command for rest was echoed and magnified in this pattern.
Fallow years have mostly been replaced by crop rotation. For varied theological and cultural reasons, the Jubilee year does not have a modern equivalent, even among the Jewish people. That sense of extended rest and replenishment has been all but lost. While some professions such as ministry and academia allow for extended sabbaticals at regular intervals, and such periods are a relief from regular work, they often carry expectations of a different sort of productivity.
Inspired by Leviticus, the Roman Catholic church has developed a tradition of 25-year Jubilee celebrations for forgiveness of sins and also the punishment due to sin. These Jubilees bring many people into reconciliation with the church.
Perhaps an advantage to not following the Jubilee schedule of Leviticus is the freedom to schedule our own. Keeping track of the financial, personal, and/or spiritual debts owed to us may be exhausting, so maybe we should consider scheduling one to begin soon. If it seems unfair to simply forgive such debt, ask whether holding onto it really serves your relationship with God or your neighbor. A Jubilee relieves us of the burden of having to work ourselves up to a state of forgiveness by giving our egos permission to unclench. God has given us an opportunity to “reset” our lives; let’s find a season to be fallow and forgiving.
Comfort: It’s ok to rest. God desires it for us.
Challenge: Forgive someone a spiritual or financial debt. Try to think of it as also relieving a burden from yourself.
Prayer: God of renewal, thank you for the new life offered to me through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Discussion: Where in your life do you most need a reset? How could you arrange for that to happen?
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