We're in a year of jubilee! This month marks exactly 50 years since David and Anne Watson arrived in York to begin the wonderful work at St Cuthbert's which continues in The Belfrey today. In the bible 50 years is a jubilee - a 50 year celebration.
There's much to give thanks for over the last 50 years: for new believers, a renewed church and many sent out to bring the kingdom to our region. In the autumn we will remember these things and we will celebrate! But we must also beware of nostalgia and take care that in celebrating the past we don't miss what God is doing today or fail to be expectant about the future. That's where the biblical jubilee becomes particularly helpful, because in the bible jubilee celebrations aren't just about looking back but they're also about new opportunities.
Every 50 years, according to Leviticus 25, God's people should celebrate a jubilee year. This involved 2 main things: coming home and enjoying freedom.
First, people returned to their ancestral home at jubilee time. They were all called to go back to their roots and reclaim their inheritance (Lev 25:10b). We picked up this idea earlier this year under the theme Coming Home, inviting all who were part of The Belfrey to come back home to Christ and together to re-embrace some of the core kingdom principles that David Watson taught us, with a strong emphasis on community worked out in small groups. This call to Come Home is still very much with us, so if you're part of The Belfrey and don't belong to a Belfrey Group then please do join one over the summer, ready for the new season coming in September.
Second, jubilee year was a time to enjoy new freedom (Lev 25:10a). It was an opportunity for a new start as God's people reclaimed their inheritance and began a new phase of life. As a result the jubilee year involved much rejoicing and mighty celebration! As we celebrate a great jubilee this year so we should be expecting to enjoy greater freedom at The Belfrey. Many of us are praying that the Lord pours out more of his Spirit of freedom (2 Cor 3:17) and that we continue to see fresh waves of creativity in our worship and witness, with people regularly coming into the liberty of following Jesus (Gal 5:1). Wouldn't it be fantastic to see increasing numbers of people being healed and delivered, experiencing the year of the Lord's favour (Isaiah 61/Luke 4)?!
As I was about to speak last Sunday at The6 on the subject of healing, I was reminded of words from Psalm 102:13, 16-17 which prophesy in similar language of a coming season of jubilee favour: You (Lord) will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favour to her; the appointed time has come. For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.
The Lord loves his people (Zion) with a deep compassion. He has great plans - jubilee plans - for us, as we seek to honour him and be serving his transformation of the North. So over the summer, and as we prepare for the autumn, let's be praying with purpose and passion! The Lord will respond. He will not despise our plea.