I’ve read all the other posts and it’s such a challenging series that I want to join in. I want to join in because in doing so I acknowledge, primarily to myself, that I need to engage with this. I acknowledge that I am bothered by the lack of connection between biblical economics and our economics, my economics.
I’m not sure that I have anything to add to anyone else’s conversation but it is necessary for me to have one with myself about this. So if you are reading – thank you for bearing with my unformed thinking, and my attempt to grasp this nettle.
I read Luke Harms post and his challenge was to consider our own communities and contexts and look for economic justice there. I so often become confused and bogged down by the global economic issues, and my appropriate response to them, that perhaps I miss the injustice occurring on my own doorstep? Newell Hendricks’ post challenges continuous acquisition.
It is the combination of those two thoughts which has set me thinking, so I’m posing myself a question today. What would the principle of Jubilee look like in my life? In my home? In my work patterns? In my shopping habits? For my children ? In my involvement in my local community? In my church? In my friendships?
Jubilee was the concept of time off. A regular break in the status quo. A year where debts were cancelled, rest was taken, fields were left fallow, slaves were freed, celebrations occurred and it was acknowledged that everything in the earth belonged to God. Everything. Property was not secure. For the people in the society to whom this applied, the knowledge that the year of Jubilee was coming, even if it was years away, must have influenced how they lived in the intervening years.
Without that Jubilee calendar, I, for the most part, believe that I have choices about what I own, when I acquire it, and when I decide that I no longer want it or need it. I know that personal circumstances can change without warning so of course I always have the notion that things may be different someday, but in reality I feel that I have enough buffers around me to allow me to make these choices.
I feel awkward and even a little ashamed writing that. It makes me realise how ego-centric my existence is. If I really want economic justice starting with Jubilee what do I need to do?
The first principle was freedom from debts and the release of slaves. Am I holding anyone in debt to me? Am I causing another to be in slavery? Maybe it’s a call to consider some of my banking practises- is my money invested in ethical funds? In my shopping are there more just options that would release another from bondage? Chocolate is an obvious place to start and although I buy fair trade when it’s available in the type of bar that I want, my sense of having a right to indulge my preferences means that I often buy non fair trade chocolate. Again, ashamed.
Perhaps the principle of Jubilee involves creating a space in my life – a time set aside – to consider these things. So often I have these thoughts and then push them aside because I’ve too much to do and not the time to spend making changes to my life. A time of Jubilee, of conscious deliberate action to address injustices which occur because of my lifestyle choices, sounds like something I need to choose. Lent begins on Wednesday, and I’ve signed up to 40 acts of generosity. However I’m now wondering whether Lent could become my period of Jubilee each year? A time that I know is coming each year, when I acknowledge that nothing I have is my own, and I consider where I am hurting others through my choices, and make the changes necessary to release them. I know that anything I do will be partial and flawed (see my last spirit of the poor link up for evidence of that), but I am not going to let its inadequacy stop me from trying.
It’s niggling away at me as I write that I also have to write something about how these thoughts are making me think about my work patterns. I am the classic working mother – trying constantly to balance and to juggle, largely because of fear that I will not do either properly and will lose my work which I love, or will inadequately parent my children, whom I love. Where’s the rest in any of that? What if I made a planned decision that every X number of years I would take time out from work in order to leave that ground fallow, and to tend to my family in a more intentional way? That I would trust that my work is also the Lord’s and that from time to time I need to let it go from my control as a mark of faith. I’m not sure that that is strictly Jubilee but it’s something I’m going to think about.
The other thing that would come from a break from work would be the availability of time to invest in my community. To spend some time allowing others to rest perhaps from their jobs and commitments. To re-engage with local matters and issues and become grounded and rooted again.
As I’ve been writing this I’ve been reminded of something I meant to do. I have a particular interest in prisoners and their families and in March in the UK Prison Fellowship encourage people to hold coffee mornings to raise money for a project called Angel Tree which enables young offenders to send gifts and a message to their Mums on Mothering Sunday. It’s too big a subject to include in this post, but I have no doubt that economic injustice is a huge factor in societal breakdown which leads to criminal choices and actions. I want to host a coffee morning for this cause. I thought I was too busy, but now I see that it is something which I CAN do and that’s the place to start.
I’m not sure if I’m on the right track with any of this, although I do know that there is a little feeling of excitement building in my soul as I think about these things. As I think about the reality of acting on what I believe. On living intentionally. Of making choices. Of taking the bible seriously.
Spirit of the Poor – it might just change my life.
[postscript – I drafted this Sunday night, and Monday morning I woke up feeling better than I have in a long time. I am fairly sure that when we start to connect with the bigger picture of Kingdom living our souls find contentment. What do you think?]