Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Sabbath and Jubilee (Leviticus 25:1–12)

Daily Lenten Reflection - Saturday, 1 April 2017

Week 5: Creation—Not for Sale

Week 5, Day 7

The Third Commandment, “The Large Catechism,” Martin Luther

Our word “holy day” or “holiday” is so called from the Hebrew word “Sabbath”, which properly means to rest, that is, to cease from work; hence our common expression for “stopping work” literally means “taking a holiday”…[W]hen you are asked what “You are to hallow the day of rest” means, answer: “Hallowing the day of rest means to keep it holy.” What is meant by “keeping it holy”? Nothing else than devoting it to holy words, holy works, and holy living. The day itself does not need to be made holy, for it was created holy. But God wants it to be holy for you. So it becomes holy or unholy on your account, depending on whether you spend it doing something holy or unholy.

Sabbath and Jubilee (Leviticus 25:1–12)

Neil Vigers, Anglican, England

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food. You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the day of atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.

The three “Not for Sale” themes of “Salvation,” “Human Beings” and “Creation,” all have roots in Sabbath and Jubilee. The Sabbath Day gives rest once a week. Here the creation, with which human living is so closely entwined, is allowed time of “complete rest” as well, on a sevenfold pattern of years. This pattern of personal and agricultural rest is deeply beneficial.

Jubilee brought great benefits to the people who lived and worked as part of the creation and the land. It required that all be set free from debts and from poverty, and that all the land be made available to God’s people, because the land belongs to God alone.

Sabbath and Jubilee declare that all that exists belongs to God, and that the creation and history will only find their purpose and fulfillment in their return to God. Both creation and people depend entirely on God for salvation.

Jubilee is God’s response to sin; the opportunity for repentance; and the gift of redemption though God’s grace. Forgiveness and restoration are offered to Israel, which is itself a sign of God’s will for the whole world.

Jesus plants Sabbath and Jubilee at the heart of his preaching in Luke 4 about the year of the Lord’s favor. He is God’s Jubilee. All of God’s grace and generosity, in redemption and new creating, are summed up and fulfilled in Christ. “[B]y grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:5) is a message of Jubilee, as well as a central part of the preaching that characterizes the Reformation.

Today, as in the first proclamation of the Jubilee, many live in debt and poverty, alienated from land and work. The earth’s resources are abused and hoarded. Millions are still in need of salvation and of God’s true rest.

“On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee has compiled a collection of Lenten reflections to commemorate the anniversary. The text can be used by small groups or individual, as a Lenten reading or as a resource for the weeks between Easter and Trinity Sunday. We are sharing these reflections daily during Lent, hoping that our common experience of God’s grace may draw our two families of churches closer together in this extraordinary year, and be used beyond 2017 and actually at any time.”