Jubilee

Wondrous, Inexplicable, Demanding Newness

The biblical writers, in a rich variety of ways, confess that God is giving a newness. That newness from God is the center of Hebrew Testament faith. And for Christians, the life of Jesus is the quintessential exhibit of God’s newness in the world. Three things strike me about that constant assertion of God’s newness. First, it is beyond explanation and beyond our own conjuring. It depends wholly upon God. Second, the Bible is concerned with the community that receives, trusts in, and embraces the miracle of newness. It knows that this community, synagogue, and church is summoned to a radical way of obedience in the world, a way so radical that it evokes the hostility of the world. But third, those vexed by such a summons turn to God in hope and trust that God will overrule such hostility.

It strikes me that these texts, especially in the season of Epiphany, are stunningly contemporary for us. The world in its fearful anxiety grows more hardhearted and violent. Clearly such a bent can never lead to well-being. The question is, how can that vicious cycle of deathliness be broken? The answer given here is that it is broken when a community boldly acts in response to God’s self-giving jubilee. The ground for enacting jubilee in our world is baptism, entry into an alternative existence that is not beholden to the old orders of death.

Walter Brueggemann, a Sojourners contributing editor, is professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.

[ January 3 ] The Great Gatherer

Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1: 10-18

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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Finally, Jubilee!

After a grand slam of hurricanes devastated Haiti in 2008, relief agencies promptly pitched in to clean up. But the most crucial form of relief for the impoverished nation—debt relief—has finally arrived following Haiti’s completion of the World Bank’s required policy changes under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. In September 2009, Haitian and U.S. diplomats signed an agreement to erase the last of Haiti’s external debt, which totaled more than $1 billion. Although natural disasters like the 2008 hurricanes compounded Haiti’s financial troubles, some of the worst debts the country was forced to pay were racked up decades before by the Duvalier dictatorship. “It was more than time!” Claudette Werleigh, former prime minister of Haiti, told Sojourners. “A large part of the debt was due to cumulative interest that often surpasses the amount of money actually borrowed. It was cruel and inhumane to ask a population fighting for bare survival to pay such a sum.” In achieving eligibility for debt relief, Haiti joined more than 20 countries that have completed the HIPC program so far.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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