My Advent series this year will follow the Words Matter Advent study from the National Council of Churches. Download the whole booklet if you’d like, and follow along with the writings for each day. I’d love to discuss them with you. Also, here is a link to the Advent readings from the Inclusive Bible. I prefer the more inclusive language here, than the NRSV texts used in the study booklet (be sure to read the note on page 6).
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
I got hung up today on “the year of the Lord’s favor”, or as the Inclusive Bible puts it, “a year of favor from YHWH.” You will remember from Leviticus 25, every 50th year was “the year of the Lord.” Any land that had been sold was returned to the seller; anyone who had sold herself into slavery was freed; any debts were forgiven. Everything was reset to ZERO – the poor didn’t owe anything, and the rich had just enough.
Of course, most scholars think this rarely, if ever, happened. Probably, the priests and/or lawyers conveniently “forgot” that this was the 50th year, or they were bribed to neglect to mention it. And they were probably the only people who could count and keep records to even know that this was the 50th year.
But the real JOY of the year of Jubilee was that God would set everything right again!
I would be really, really happy if all my debts were wiped out! It would be great if my house were already paid for, and my credit card debt was forgiven. We’ve had a couple of mini-Jubilees. My father loaned us money when we were young and poor and just starting out, and again when we returned from overseas and needed to buy a house. We tried faithfully to pay him off, but never seemed to get caught up. He forgave both debts, and we’ve tried to help our sons the same way. I imagine most parents would like to do the same thing, but often they are unemployed and struggling when the kids need the money.
Check out John Harrison’s sermon today, “Sound the Ram’s Horn!” for more information about the year of Jubilee, and for how it ties in with Advent.