A Bible Reading: Leviticus 25. 8 - 12 “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
A Thought My earliest memory of going to see the Queen dates from early childhood. I must have been about three or four years of age. I remember being carefully positioned by my parents at the edge of the pavement with a good view, standing expectant, eagerly waving my union flag. I am not sure what I expected, but I remember being hugely disappointed. The Queen drove by in a large limousine. It was all over in seconds, and I’m not even sure I even glimpsed either the Queen or one of Her Majesty’s characteristic royal waves!
By contrast, my memories of the Silver Jubilee are far more positive. This was a clearly defined celebration in honour of the Queen. We had a traditional carnival parade through the village with suitably decorated floats. Determined to join in the fun with gusto, my brother and I hung a large union flag out of my bedroom window with the aid of a washing line clothes prop! In the evening, we joined thousands at the lighting of the beacon on top of Beacon Hill in Leicestershire. There was a great atmosphere and it was altogether a more satisfactory celebration, although of course Her Majesty was not present. And now, decades later, here we are at the unique milestone of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with four days of celebration planned across our villages and beyond.
Jubilee is a recurring biblical theme, first appearing in the book of Leviticus. It is described like a holiday or party with trumpet fanfares and proclamations across the land. This biblical concept has some remarkably contemporary resonances. The land enjoyed a ‘sabbath year’. In other words, the land was allowed to lie fallow for one year in every seven, which protected the soil from being degraded through over-exploitation. This call for good stewardship of the land is very much in tune with current calls for action to stop the destruction of natural habitat for commercial use and the over-industrialization of certain areas, in order to slow down global warming and the devastating effects of climate change. In Deuteronomy 15, the idea of jubilee is expanded to include the cancellation of debts, the freeing of slaves and the return of people to their ancestral land. Here there is a manifesto for the promotion of fair trade, justice, reconciliation and the care of the poor.
These are also themes close to the Queen’s heart. Her Green Canopy initiative has encouraged the planting of millions of trees across Great Britain during her Platinum Jubilee year. And again and again, she has drawn us back to the teaching of Jesus during her Christmas messages and the need to work together around the world to nurture forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. May we celebrate in style over this Platinum Jubilee weekend, but also take these vital underlying messages to heart and endeavour to make the world a better place for everyone in the years to come.
A Prayer Loving God, we long for a world in which creation is respected, the climate is stable, and there is not one needy person among us. Help us to work towards that day with commitment and generosity.
Rise up and serve, Graham Kendrick