St. Dorothy Jubilee Kick-Off Mass
June 7, 2015 (Feast of Corpus Christi)
Anybody else here who used to love watching Star Trek? The Enterprise, Kirk, Spock, Uhuru (1st inter-racial kiss?!), “beam me up”, etc. Before the later Star Trek movies, one thing Star Trek was famous for was its reset button. No matter how bad situation was – how grim the problem – how much of an advantage the enemy had – you knew that by the start of the next episode everything would be back to the same way it had begun!
- Kirk might have a new love interest every week, but next week she’d be forgotten never to return
- The Enterprise might be damaged beyond all recognition but come next week, it would be back to its straight out of the ship yards perfection.
Church, the Year of Jubilee as described in the Bible is God’s ‘Reset’ button! The Biblical Year of Jubilee was the ‘Reboot’ in the system, the ‘Ctrl-Alt-Del’ in the universe. The Year of Jubilee was a year-long party preceded by a year-long party! No work was to be done in the fields … slaves were freed … debts cleared and all property returned to its original owners. It was the great equaliser.
JUBILEE is one of the most profound concepts in all SS –is nothing like it in modern life, yet a part of everything we believe. Even the founding of America was touched by the concept – the words engraved on Liberty Bell in 1751 are a direct quote from the Jubilee chapter Leviticus 25:10 – “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan”.
The question for today – is Jubilee relevant for us today? What is God’s message in giving US Jubilee right now? The answer to the 1st question is YES – and to the 2nd question is because GOD LOVES HIS PEOPLE & NEVER LEAVES US ALONE! Jubilee reflects the heart of our God – it was God’s desire that His children should never live in slavery – should never be bound by poverty. Now, interestingly, this Jubilee vision of a 50-year reset button was never realized in the OT. They talked about it, they taught about it, they referred to it – but curiously, not once in OT history did the Israelites ever actually celebrate it. They agreed with it, they believed it – but they never did it.
It took JESUS CHRIST to bring back Jubilee, to show world how God wanted to really do Jubilee! So early one Sabbath, in the town He had grown up (Nazareth), Jesus made his way to the temple (as He was used to), motions He has something to say, is recognized, calls for the scroll – the one containing the book of Isaiah. He reads from 61st chapter of Isaiah, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me to proclaim good news, freedom, recovery of sight, liberty – to announce a year of favor from the Lord”!
Church, what was Jesus doing? He was saying that HE was the Messiah, BUT He was proclaiming the Year of Jubilee – actually a Jubilee Age – the Kingdom of God – which was for US!! For anyone who believes in Him, accepts Him, honors Him in the center of their life – there is Jubilee NOW, freedom NOW, recovery of sight NOW! This is not just Jubilee for the OT, for Jews … OR some antiquated Biblical concept with little relevance today – this is a jubilee for US! For YOU! This is YOUR Jubilee – MY Jubilee – and God would speak a message to us today thru this Divine Reset Button which it is.
Now, let me share with you the Four Messages of Jubilee – Our Jubilee this morning …..
1st – Jubilee is a message about forgiveness.
There is a Peanuts cartoon, where Lucy approaches Charlie Brown with a paper/pen and says, “Here, sign this. It absolves me from all blame”. Then she goes to Shroeder with same paper, says, “Here, sign this. It absolves me from all blame”. Finally she comes to Linus: “Here, sign this. It absolves me from all blame”. As she walks away Linus says, “Gee, that must be a nice document to have”.
Jesus says to us this morning, “Here, this is signed in my blood. I absolve you. I forgive you. I cleanse you”. The Jubilee of Jesus is about that moral reset called forgiveness – when Jesus hung on that cross and uttered those three incredible words, “Father . . . forgive them.”
- God Forgives – “Happy is the man whose sins are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Psalm 32:1
- AND God Forgets – He actually remembers our failures no more! Is 43:25 “I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
The good news of Jubilee is that our moral debts have been forgiven – our sin, our shame, our failures are washed away! The slate is clean for WHATEVER the Spirit would do with us in the days ahead!
2nd – Jubilee is a message about freedom.
In Bible days, if you incurred a debt and were unable to pay, you or a member of your family became a slave to your creditor to work off the balance. Now those Jews who heard Jesus didn’t understand what freedom was. They probably did not consider themselves slaves. And the average person you ask walking down the street today does not either!
The truth is most people ARE slaves to something – most of us do NOT know what Real Freedom is. The words of the scroll Jesus read that day in the synagogue said that the Messiah would bring “freedom for the captives.” Now, it does not matter WHAT has captured us this morning, or HOW we got stuck in whatever ARE stuck in (shame, cynicism, guilt, self-doubt). The Jubilee message of Jesus is ‘FREEDOM!!’ The Jubilee “reset button” IS that there is freedom from anything that holds us back from God’s fullest blessings – freedom from slavery to our desires, to sin, to Satan, to the tyranny of our emotions, obsessions, addictions, brokenness, aloneness.
- Jesus has told us “The one whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.” John 8:36
- And ALL of us here know these words “You will know the truth & the truth will set you free.”
Anyone here need freedom this morning? Freedom from fear, freedom from oppression, freedom from slavery to your past, your weaknesses, your failures? I proclaim what Jesus proclaims – THIS is Jubilee for you!
3d – Jubilee is a message about restoration.
One of the incredible promises of Jubilee was that if a person sold their land, or lost land in a debt civil case, or somehow got separated from their land – in the Year of Jubilee they were given your land back. Why? Because the land was really the Lord’s and they were but tenants. Restoration is about getting back what was been stolen from us by the devil life or sin or whatever! It is about being brought BACK to our Calling, our Hope, Trust, Love, Peace, Health!
- Psalm 23 “God leads me to green pastures .. He restores my soul.”
- Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit”
The good news of Jubilee is that God restores to our hearts what has been stolen from our spirits! Just like Job in the Old Testament, after all the trials, after all the struggles, after all the pains, God gives back to us tenfold, and in ways we never expected! “The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his early ones …”
Finally – Jubilee is a message about faith.
The year before Jubilee was the 49th year- literally a Sabbatical year. One of the rules for that year was that you were not to plant any crops – the land had to lie fallow. You could eat the crop that grew naturally out of the ground from last year’s harvest, but you could not sow seed for a new harvest. In the Jubilee year itself you had to do the same thing. That meant that for two years you could plant no seed. For two years you had to live by faith – trusting God as your supply and your resource. So it was a season of great faith – of immense trust that GOD WOULD PROVIDE!!
Church, what Jesus is saying to US here at St. Dorothy (and to you personally) is that even tho we do not see the future (cannot see what is ahead) God is in control – trust in the Lord!
- God is in control, it doesn’t matter what is happening in the economy … it doesn’t matter what’s happening politically … who is in the white house or governor’s mansion. God is in control!
- It doesn’t matter what they do to social security, healthcare, or anything else. God is in control!
- Doesn’t matter if this church is smaller than before …. if our school was closed … if the pews are emptier than we would all like. God is in control – here at St. Dorothy!
It is time to stop listening to the illogic of our heads & the fears of our hearts, and start empowering our faith and our trust!! Nothing moves the hand and heart of God like the faith of His children. Look at the woman in Matthew 9:20-22 – woman with the flow of blood, that no doctor could help (she had tried them for 12 years). Perhaps she had heard Jesus, and wondered if this Teacher could help her in her hopeless situation. She didn’t need Him to lay hands on her OR pray special words over her – she only needed to touch him and believe!! And when she did – she experienced Jubilee! She experienced a Divine Reset of healing and blessing!
My friends, the people of St. Dorothy Church have come a long way in the 99 year history … and WE especially have “come a mighty long way” in the 50+ years our AA community has been here. There are things that have happened we dearly wish had not (closing of our school, changing of our neighborhood). We certainly DO miss so many people who were with us when we began walking, people we dearly wish were still with us (Albert Jackson, Alice Hamilton, Tates, Belows).
But today Church, God has given us Jubilee!! On this feast of Corpus Christi – symbolically the Body & Blood of Christ in our midst – we celebrate the beginning of a Year of Jubilee. Literally the Jesus of Jubilee is with us! The “Divine Reset” Jubilee blessings of Jesus Christ have begun!! Jubilee is God here – and God now!
There is a message to us in this – a message that GOD is still moving here … God is still blessing people here … God is giving us a spiritual “reboot” – a Spirit-inspired “control-alt-delete” for a new day, a new time! Now, Church, where that future is going to lead – who will lead it – what will happen – I don’t know. I do know it will look different, just as WE today look a lot different from those white Scotch Irish who founded this church 99 years ago!! This church is changed. This school has changed. This community is changing. We are changed.
But I will tell you this – we cannot sit around complaining … waiting to see where it will go … waiting to see if it goes the way we want it to go, RATHER we “walk by faith and not by sight” right now!! We walk in the “Divine Reset” Grace of Jubilee – in forgiveness, in freedom, in restoration, in faith!
Church, we don’t know what tomorrow holds – but we do know who holds tomorrow! And “because He lives, we can face tomorrow!”
- We walk into Jubilee expecting the unexpected, “for eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love Him.”
- We can walk into Jubilee knowing we will never be alone, for “where 2 or 3 are gathered, there God is in our midst”.
- And we can walk into Jubilee thanking God for 100 Years on the battlefield for the Lord, for “The Spirit of the Lord is upon us! He has sent us to bring good News to the poor, liberty to those bound up, recovery of sight to the blind!”
This is “the year of favor” from our God! Let us be glad and rejoice!! Thank you for your patience – and may God be with you!