Jubilee for the Earth: new rhythms, new hopes
Between 1 September and 4 October, churches around the world will be participating in the Season of Creation. Our Director of Theology, Dave Bookless, has been on the global planning group for the past couple of years, and here he explains more about the concept and this year’s theme, ‘Jubilee for the Earth: new rhythms, new hopes.’
Why have a Season of Creation?
Evangelicals often avoid annual calendars of church events and seasons, perhaps feeling a danger of formal ritual and ‘churchy-ness’. However, God’s people in scripture clearly based their whole lives around the rhythms of the year. Almost all the biblical festivals were linked both to God’s actions in history (eg Passover) but also to the seasons of sowing, harvesting and rejoicing in God’s provision through creation. As our societies have become more urban and our worship has become more wordy, we lose our sense of total reliance on God through the gift of creation. So, over the past 30 years, the 5 weeks from 1st September to 4th October, including Northern hemisphere Harvest and ending with St Francis’ Day, have been celebrated by more and more churches: Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, and now many evangelicals too. I’ve found it a great privilege to plan this with colleagues from many countries and church backgrounds.
Why ‘Jubilee for the Earth: new rhythms, new hopes?’
This year’s theme was chosen long before COVID-19 changed our world, but it feels even more relevant now. We tend to use the term ‘Jubilee’ to celebrate anniversaries, but of course its biblical roots lie in a radical reset every 50 years, a social, economic and ecological world rebooted. The shock of the coronavirus pandemic, and the terrible suffering it has brought, have – in a strange way – given us an opportunity to look anew at our relationship with the earth, with each other, and with God. There are some great resources in the Season of Creation pack: theological, worship ideas and practical suggestions, and you can add your events to the website too.
A Rocha’s produced a lovely short film based on Psalm 65 to accompany this, which could be shown in worship (online or in person). Perhaps one of the things that God is saying to us most clearly from this time is that we need to change our ways. We need to de-tox from the travel, consumerism, busyness and shopping. Jubilee is a reminder that more is not always better. There is a time to stop consuming, stop accumulating, and just stop. Take our Sabbath once a week. Take time to pause and celebrate and be aware of our context, our world, our impact. Discover new rhythms of life, closer to the ones God has written into the sun and moon and seasons. In doing so, discover new hope, rooted in the good God who creates so abundantly, gives so generously, and redeems so radically.