Sabbath and Jubilee

Psalm 93, 96 (Morning)

Psalm 34 (Evening)

Leviticus 25:1-17

James 1:2-8,16-18

Luke 12:13-21

Although there’s some debate among scholars whether the Jubilee year outlined in our Leviticus reading today was actually the 49th year or the 50th, what we do know is that the number seven was a crucial number to the ancient Hebrews and that seven times seven was even more significant.

The ancient Hebrews were used to their culturally ingrained pattern of six days of work followed by one of rest; it was a natural jump to look at their lives and the world around them and see that their fields, vineyards, and orchards needed a pattern of work and rest, also. Even in our 24/7/365 modern life, we still retain vestiges of meaning to the number seven, whether it’s the seven-year itch in marriages, or the seventh inning stretch in baseball games. It’s still a favorite number to use in titles or brands, whether it’s 7-Eleven, Seven-Up, or James Bond, 007.

Somewhere in all that, though, in our fast-paced lives, we lost track of that “resting” business associated with the number seven. How many of us can really say we rest and recharge one day out of seven? For that matter, how many of us can say we have even considered the possibility of a jubilee year in our own lives when we turn 49, or even the possibility of a jubilee day one day out of 49?

Well, as it turns out, rest can also be a spiritual practice–in fact, it’s a vital one. Rest creates room–room for thought, room for relationships, room for wonder and awe. We see things and people differently when we are at rest. Our expectations change. Even our relationship with God changes.

Likewise, creating times of jubilee is also a vital spiritual practice. Finding places in our lives where we can unshackle ourselves and others from debt–whether it is financial, emotional, or spiritual–opens us to possibilities of new kinds of freedom. There are myriad ways we can “exist on what we have” and give ourselves temporary respite from consumerism. We’re only limited by our own imaginations as to what form a day, a week, a month, or a year of Jubilee could take.

In these waning days of Easter, ponder the possibility of creating times of true Sabbath and Jubilee for yourself. Try it on. See what changes.

What can you share about your own experiences of Sabbath and Jubilee?

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid

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