Monday, May 28, 2012

Jubilee! Have we forgotten how to rest?

There has been an outcry by some over the decision to extend Sunday Trading this summer around the times of the Olympics. The idea of the Sabbath rest can be found in the Bible. Some scholars think that one of the reasons the Ten Commandments says that no work should be done on a Sunday, is to remove the Israelites from their history as a slave nation.

The Israelites had arrived in Egypt at the time of Joseph (he of the multi-coloured coat) and over successive generations had grown in number but also had been enslaved by the Egyptians. The great escape of the Egyptian Slave nation through the Red Sea and into the desert is well known. In the desert the Israelis did a lot of moaning and groaning about their life and they even saw their lives in slavery through rose tinted spectacles and wanted to go back to their lives as slaves!

God gave the Israelites a day of rest to break the cycle of slavery, as slaves they would have received no breaks, just work and more work. A day off every week would have been a revelation to them. Slaves do not have days off.

Latter when the Israelites had settled in the promised land, the idea of a Sabbath rest was extended so that every seventh year was a year of reduced activity and then after seven times seven years (49 years) the fiftieth year was called the year of the Jubilee.

Jubilee is also a constant theme throughout the Bible. The word ‘jubilee’ stems from the Hebrew word ‘Yobel’, which refers to the ram or ram’s horn with which jubilee years were proclaimed. In Leviticus it states that such a horn or trumpet is to be blown on the tenth day of the seventh month after the lapse of ‘seven Sabbaths of years’ (49 years) as a proclamation of liberty through-out the land of the tribes of Israel. The year of jubilee was a consecrated year of ‘Sabbath-rest’ and liberty. During this year all debts were cancelled, lands were restored to their original owners and family members were restored to one another.

The year of jubilee was also central to the ministry of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus makes the claim to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 61:1–2. Jesus states that he has come to ‘proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Luke 4:18–19 TNIV). This is the year of jubilee.

I am increasingly beginning to think that as a nation we are enslaving ourselves ..slowly. We have even secularised the idea of the sabbath with the european working time directive and then most large companies have policies for Improving Worklife Balance.

The economy now often dominates the news, dominates the efforts of politicians and governments. Have we becomes slaves to the economy? Surly the economy should be subservient to our life and loves, it should be secondary to care of people. It should also be secondary to how we live our lives not why we live our lives.

As part of the Jubilee celebrations this year lets make a conscious effort to change the way we live and stop our on-going and slow enslavement to the economy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The clock is now well and truly ticking towards the major events that are occurring this summer. Very soon the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee will be upon us, then the European Football championships, then the Olympics and Para-Olympics. We are promised a summerfest like no other. 
This month I am going to focus on the Queen’s Jubilee and one or two other anniversaries that I think are also important to remember.
The first is the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war. There have been many programs on TV about the conflict. However the 25th May will be the anniversary of the sinking of the Atlantic Conveyor. A ship which was requisitioned for the war. Russell has been working hard to pull together a service of commemoration for those who died from the ship at Doncaster Minster. Others from doncaster who died in the Falklands conflict will also be remembered. Why Doncaster Minster you may ask? Well there is a memorial at the Minster to Ian North, the Captain of the Atlantic Conveyor who was from Doncaster.
350 years ago on the 19th May 1662 parliament gave its permission for the introduction of a Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for the Church of England. Widespread use started on the 24th August the same year. The book was based on earlier prayer books compiled mainly by Thomas Cranmer in the 16th century. Until the latter part of the 20th century the book was still in common usage in Church of English worship. Phrases and words from the books pages abound in common usage. 
We begin our celebration of its 350th anniversary on Ascension Day, 17th May at 7:30pm in St John the Baptist Wadworth, when we will use Evensong and Holy Communion services from the Book of Common Prayer. The following Tuesday the 22nd May we will have a Matins service from the BCP at 10am and at this service pray for the forthcoming Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the forthcoming week.  Other dates as part of the celebration will be announced next month.
We will be using our All Age Sunday School  to  learn more about the Church and the Jubilee. We will have a look at the word Jubillee and its origins as a celebration in the Bible (5th May), the Sovereignty of God in our lives  (13th May) and why the Queen is the head of the Church of England (20th May) and a thanksgiving for the Queen and Her service to the country (3rd June). Although some of these subjects sound a bit serious (and they are) you can be assured that the All Age Services will still be as much fun as usual so please coming along. 
During the week of Jubilee (2nd - 9th June) churches in the parish will be open at various times (please see notice boards and blog) to sign a book of thanks to Her Majesty for Her faithful service to Her people which  will then be sent Her Majesty. 
I hope you can join us for these celebrations.