DAY 20 | JUBILEE CHALLENGE

A WEEKLY CHALLENGE IN DEBT FORGIVENESS

In the Bible, the mission of God is inextricably linked to God “unburdening” people. What if we payed attention to those around us and chose someone that is experiencing the weight of debt and helped alleviate it?  

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:

Forgiveness:  A debt doesn’t purely have to be financial, but can very easily also be relational.  Is there someone in our life that we need reconciliation with?  Do we need to ask for forgiveness or to forgive someone?  Are we holding on to something that is creating a disconnect between us and another human?  Can we work towards alleviating that debt with a person and begin a process of forgiveness where debts are cancelled as we work towards wholeness?

 

Peter Mansen

DAY 19 | ADVENT JUBILEE

REFLECT: PROVERBS 30

Two things I asked of You,                                                                                                                  Do not refuse me before I die:                                                                                                              Keep deception and lies far from me,                                                                                                Give me neither poverty nor riches;                                                                                                    Feed me with the food that is my portion,                                                                                     That I not be full and deny You and say,                                                                                              “Who is the Lord?”                                                                                                                              Or that I not be in want and steal,                                                                                                           And profane the name of my God.                                                                                                        vs. 7-9

It is difficult to imagine a path through contemporary American culture that would involve keeping "deception and lies far from me", and maybe even more difficult to imagine a way of life in our misshapen socioeconomic order wherein one could have "neither poverty nor riches", consuming only "the food that is my portion". And yet, here are these verses, here is our church, here are all of our hearts and minds, trying to know Christ together, though many would argue that we really should know better by now. Can God, and what God alone provides, be sufficient for us?

In my Evangelical youth group one of the most popular worship songs was "Enough": "you satisfy me with your love/and all I have in you/is more than enough". We sang this sentiment at camp with gusto, though of course it was not true for almost any of us almost any of the time. We were riddled by desires and angst and materialism and uncertainty...and yet I don't think we were lying when we expressed that enough-ness. Or at least, I don't think declaring something to be true when you really WANT it to be true, though it it isn't quite true yet, is the same as lying.

I hope God and God's providence can be enough. They aren't enough most of the time, and I clutch at many, many other things to fill my spiritual and material needs. But I hope that they will be, soon.


Joe Volk

DAY 17 | ADVENT JUBILEE

REFLECT: PSALM 146

Our God upholds the cause of the oppressed (Ps 146:7a). That this is good news to those of us who identify with a marginalized group is self-evident. In many contexts, though, many of us belong to a dominant group. Still, we understand that this good news, Christ’s Good News, is universally good. So in what sense can we celebrate Christ’s liberation of the prisoners (7b) if we are not victims of mass incarceration, for example? We can hope for, can work for the liberation of prisoners, but until we recognize our own freedom as wrapped up in theirs, we miss a key piece of Christ’s saving narrative. James Cone, Black Liberation theologian and author of “God of the Oppressed,” notes that “there can be no reconciliation with God unless the hungry are fed, the sick are healed, and justice is given to the poor. The justified person is at once the sanctified person, one who knows that [their] freedom is inseparable from the liberation of the weak and the helpless”¹ (214). The deliverance of African American men from the school-to-prison pipeline, the liberation of women from sexual harassment and violence, the transcendence of transgender individuals from state sanctioned marginalization, the freedom of other groups from their respective bondage, is a necessary precondition for the redemption of all others. Womanist poet Audre Lorde offers this succinct conclusion: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”² (132).

Let Us Pray:

Great Liberator, may we see your divine justice for the Good News it is to oppressed and oppressor alike. May we see your divine-human mediation in light of its Salvific Truth: that you came to free the lowly, and while any are oppressed, none are free.

Nick Cox

1. Cone, James H. God of the oppressed. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000.                                    2. Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches by Audre Lorde. Berkeley: Crossing Press, 2007

 

1 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul.

2 I will praise the Lord all my life;  I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.

4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever.

7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free,

8     the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,  the Lord loves the righteous.

9 The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow  but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.

 

 

 

DAY 16 | ADVENT JUBILEE

GOD’S NAME FOR YOU

Yesterday we heard the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth at the birth and naming of their son. Elizabeth knew his name was to be John, even though the name John was nowhere in their family line. Earlier an angel had told Zechariah this, so in front of their friends he confirmed what his wife had spoken.  His name is John, and it was obvious now the Lord’s hand was with him.

What is it that God wants to name you, different from your given name or the names you’ve been handed by others through your life? Maybe it’s Warrior, or Comforter, or Artist, or Prophet; there’s a part of you that God wants to reveal, affirm, and help you live into.  Close your eyes, take a breath, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s name for you. As you listen, take a few minutes to reflect on what this name means for you.

DAY 13 | JUBILEE CHALLENGE

A WEEKLY CHALLENGE IN DEBT FORGIVENESS

In the Bible, the mission of God is inextricably linked to God “unburdening” people. What if we payed attention to those around us and chose someone that is experiencing the weight of debt and helped alleviate it?  

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:

General Care:  Is it taking someone out for a beer and asking them questions and listening?  Is it praying for someone that needs encouragement?  Could it be baby sitting for a couple that needs to connect but doesn’t have the budget or ability to go on a date?  Could it be giving someone Vitamin D pills who live in Seattle and forgot what the sun looks like, or what it’s affects are?   Could it be hanging out weekly with someone who needs a friend who can get what has been weighing on them off of their shoulders?  

 

Peter Mansen

DAY 12 | ADVENT JUBILEE

Proverbs 23:4-5

Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,

Cease from your consideration of it.

When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.

For wealth certainly makes itself wings

Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

Behind the command in verse 4 lie two questions: what are worthwhile ends of hard work? And what is worth our consideration (or, for that matter, our eyeballs?)? Yet, even if we nail those dense, slippery questions down, there's another problem here: how exactly are we supposed to recognize and control what we're considering on any given day?

Big wave surfers drown because, though they can hold their breath for a minute or more on land, it's almost impossible to hit even 30 or 45 seconds when you're being tossed and pummeled under a series of waves: there we glimpse the difference between reading these verses and thinking "hmmm, yes, I should not be so focused on wealth and material things!" on the one hand and actually changing how we think, what we value, what we desire, and what we worship amidst all of the crashing waves and sneaky undertows of daily life on the other.

But as we celebrate the coming of a God who is with us, who has defeated death, and whose power is made perfect in our weakness, what better time to hope for that kind of change?


Joe Volk

DAY 10 | ADVENT JUBILEE

REFLECT: PSALM 72

When God tells Solomon, Psalm 72's author, that he will grant him any desire, Solomon makes a stunning reply: “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (1 Kings 3:9).

And yet during his reign, Solomon developed a desire for riches that eclipsed his hunger for God. While he spent seven long years building a magnificent temple to the Lord (1 Kg 6:38), he spent nearly twice as long building his own palace (7:1). His ruthless use of slave labor helped him amass untold wealth (9:15). The pure weight of gold and splendor Solomon brought to himself made him the richest king on earth (10:23).

Unsurprisingly, this didn’t end well for the king. He let his lust for power and domination lead him away from God (11:3, 10). In the end, God humbled his kingdom (11:39), and spared but a remnant, upholding his promise to David (11:34).

Reading Psalm 72 with eyes of Advent, we immediately recognize the king that Solomon describes. We can immediately see what king would judge God’s people in righteousness, His afflicted ones with justice (Psalm 72:1). The king that saves the children and needy and crushes the oppressor (v. 4), that rescues the weak from oppression and violence (v. 14), is not Solomon himself. Indeed, it is no earthly king. For not even the king endowed with wisdom directly by God can overcome the hunger for ultimate splendor.

No, the King we desire, that we need, was born among the lowly in a nowhere town. For want of a crib, he was placed in a feeding trough. This king would rule not with an iron fist, but a bleeding hand, the king all nations would call blessed (Ps 72:17, Lk 1:48).

Let us pray.

God, grant us hearts to seek the splendor of your kingdom rather than our own.

 

Nick Cox

Psalm 72

DAY 9 | ADVENT JUBILEE

LET US PRAY

You forgave us our sins, the ultimate debt

And sacrificed yourself on a cross

So that we may be free

How then do we follow your lead?

This extreme act of love

This unwavering faith

This true understanding of God’s plan for the world

 

I resent my friends and neighbors

With how they spend their time and money

By how put together their lives seem

With how connected they are

I waver between self-righteousness and guilt

When I believe I spend my time and money better: self-righteousness

When I believe that others are more gracious, kind and giving: guilt

 

And I feel entitled to make decisions without considering what you would do

What the greater good is

What the community needs

I feel entitled to what I have earned

what I have worked so hard for

But is our world fair or just?

Don’t many work as hard or harder than I and yet suffer?

 

I am entitled to nothing

It is by grace that I have been set free

And in this freedom that I can let go

Of the resentments that bind me

Of the entitlement that misleads me

I recognize the magnitude of need and give

I see injustice for what it is and denounce the ‘American Dream’

 

Fluctuating between feeling powerful and powerless

I keep my eyes open, alert, awake

I look for the strand that connects us all

It’s within relationship that we practice forgiveness

It’s within relationship that we practice jubilee

God be with us as we remember how much we need each other

And challenge us to let go and give freely like we have never done before


Joanna den Haan

DAY 6 | JUBILEE CHALLENGE

A WEEKLY CHALLENGE IN DEBT FORGIVENESS

In the Bible, the mission of God is inextricably linked to God “unburdening” people. We see that in the Old Testament laws concerning the year of Jubilee, wherein one's debts were forgiven every 49 years.  God’s unburdening blessing isn’t limited to, but includes our debt. We as humans walk around, being burdened by that which we owe, and that which is owed us, and it can weigh us down—even cripple us. Student loans, house payments, foreclosure, tax season, Christmas season, credit card debt etc, can bog us down, and as we are bound up by this capitalistic society, we are all the more susceptible to feeling the weight on our shoulders.

If we are a people that aspires to be like God, then I would love for our community to consider accepting a challenge for this Holiday season. What if we payed attention to those around us and chose someone that is experiencing the weight of debt and helped alleviate it?

I’m convinced that there would be a myriad of life-giving stories that would result if we were to accept this challenge. And we need stories. We need reminders that in reality, God is a God that forgives debt. God is a God that enters our stories and removes burdens. And we have the Spirit of God in us, so let’s let God do what God does through us this week.  

This can look like a number of things (creativity is encouraged also).

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:

Money: money causes stress, and some of us have more than others. For some, the paying off of a debt could be little skin off our back, but could change the life of another.  Maybe it’s money for a meal, gas, a car payment, a student loan payment, a doctors appointment, a therapy session, or Christmas gifts for ones family, etc.  

 

Peter Mansen

DAY 5 | ADVENT JUBILEE

PROVERBS 22 (excerpts)

  A good name is more desirable than great riches;

   to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

   Rich and poor have this in common:

   The Lord is the Maker of them all.

 

   Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,

    and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

   The generous will themselves be blessed,

    for they share their food with the poor.

 

   One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth

    and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

 

    Do not exploit the poor because they are poor

    and do not crush the needy in court,

    for the Lord will take up their case and will exact life for life…

I've felt intimidated by the subject of Sabbath economics, it's uncomfortable to admit the ways I contribute to consumerism and the economic systems that uphold injustice. The more time I spent reflecting, the more I felt stunned and numb by the weight of it all.

So you can imagine how juicy this got for me to explore how the concept of Jubilee is a foundational piece to God's economy. The symbolism of emancipation has been powerful- I've been able to give myself freedom to enter into this tension of Sabbath economics with fresh eyes and a clear heart.

LET US PRAY:

Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.

May we use this beautiful reminder as a starting place and a posture as we hold the Advent season together.
 

Nicole Baker

DAY 3 | ADVENT JUBILEE

PSALM 49

13 This is the fate of those who trust in

  themselves, and of their followers, who approve  

  their sayings.

14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;

   death will be their shepherd (but the upright

   will prevail over them in the morning).

Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their  

   princely mansions.

 

15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the

   dead; he will surely take me to himself.

16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,

   when the splendor of their houses increases;

17 for they will take nothing with them when they

  die, their splendor will not descend with them.

18 Though while they live they count themselves

  blessed — and people praise you when you

  prosper—

19 they will join those who have gone before

  them, who will never again see the light of life.

 

   We have more in common with the Korahites (to whom today’s Psalm is attributed) than we may know. Psalm 43, also attributed to the clan, reads like a prototype of the psalm that cries out to God for justice against oppressors: “Vindicate me, my God…Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” (Psalm 43). Psalm 49 feels similar, specifically exhorting the lowly against those whose houses have received splendor (v. 16). But the sons of Korah have played more than just the role of the oppressed. Only a remnant of the Korahites were spared by God from a consuming earthquake that claimed a majority following a failed coup against Moses and Aaron (Num 16). And from these questionable roots, the Korahites rose to prominence as respected expert warriors during the reign of King David (1 Chr 12:6). Hear your own voice joining them in both the power and powerlessness in the tension expressed in Psalm 49, and invite Jesus to redeem you in both roles.

 

LET US PRAY:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, both sacrificial sheep and stewarding shepherd arriving in splendor this Advent; free us from both the dismay we feel when faced with the growing splendor of our idols, and the injustice we, as oppressors at one point or another in our stories, have wrought. Find us as both the author and the object of these cries of injustice, and help us anticipate your coming in both circumstances.

Nick Cox

DAY 2 | ADVENT JUBILEE

Is Sabbath economics and the highly spiritual, ethical practice of Jubilee applicable for our time?

Andy shared on Sunday that it turns out, there is not much evidence at all that Christians ever really adopted the practice of Jubilee. However, there is no theme more common to Jesus’ storytelling than Sabbath/Jubilee.  According to Biblical Scholar Ched Myers, “the revisioning of Sabbath economics defined Jesus’ call to discipleship, lay at the heart of his teaching, and stood at the center of his conflict with the established order. Jesus repeatedly asserted that the purpose of Sabbath was to humanize the community and to make its internal relationships more just. 

Personally, as I have been reading articles on Sabbath economics and Jubilee, I have been surprised at how disappointed I was in learning that it was never really implemented in society. I found myself weighed down by the question of applicability. Until a few nights ago, when I woke up with a nudge from what I believe to be the Holy Spirit saying to me, “who cares that it hasn’t worked so far: start now”.  

Start now.

I’m not sure what “start now” means for me, or for us, but since this was the heart of Jesus’ teaching it’s probably worth our while to not doubt it or question it, but wonder about it.

LET US PRAY:

God, Holy spirit, will you be kind to us in this season of wonder. Will you reveal to each of us how we may situate our lives, our being, our own familial systems of economics towards the holy work of humanizing our community and creating a more just society.

Amen.


Lisa Etter-Carlson

 

 

 

ADVENT JUBILEE

Throughout Advent, we will explore the biblical theme of Jubilee and its economic significance for our gospel imagination.  You'll see a reflection from someone in our community Monday - Saturday.

The Hebrew scriptures lay out a series of teachings about economic rhythms that the people were instructed to practice on a cyclical basis: every 7 days to rest and cease from productivity, every 7 years let the land rest and recover itself, and every 49 years for full economic recovery - debts would be cancelled, slaves freed, leases expired, and land would be redistributed.

Even though there's no evidence that Israel ever actually implemented the Jubilee year, it is evident that they carried an ongoing consciousness of the ideal.  Walter Brueggeman says “It is impossible to overstate the defining force of the Sabbatic principle of Sabbath/year of release/Jubilee that altogether reorient thinking about money and possessions.”  It was a sort of measuring stick for what a truly flourishing economy could look like. 

So then in Luke 4:16-21, when Jesus is giving his inauguration speech in the synagogue, he gives a nod to this Jubilee imagination as a way to define his ministry - "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to proclaim good news to the poor... to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor". 

America has it's own perspective on the ideals of economic flourishing.  It's the world we live in, and the season of Advent in particular invokes a tendency to gorge ourselves on the capitalist ideal of it.  We see that the ancient imagination of the Jubilee cycle offers a radical and probably more inspiring alternative.  Jesus came to bring fullness of life - not only to those who are able to amass disproportionate quantities for themselves, but fullness of life for all, and for our neighborhoods and communities. 

May this anticipatory season of Advent be a time to question what is guiding our imagination about flourishing and to wonder: How do we work together towards the Jubilee proclamations of Jesus?