Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Year of Jubilee

(These are my comments I will make this morning at the interfaith observance of the 7th anniversry of 9/11 at the Peace Bell in Newport, Kentucky)

Today is the seventh anniversary of 9/11. Seven years of war, seven years of occupation, seven years of sitting and watching as our civil liberties disappear over the horizon. Seven long years.

And if it seems long to me, I can only imagine what these last seven years have felt like for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Seven years of war and insurgency. Seven years of ethnic cleansing and displacement. Seven years of secret torture prisons. Seven years of screaming bombs silencing the cries of mothers and children.

And so I just had to come by here this morning to say that on this seventh anniversary we need to declare a year of jubilee.

A year of jubilee. In Jewish tradition, a jubilee comes once every seven days, once every seven years and once every seven times seven years. It is a time of Sabbath and of rest. Rest from labor. Rest from life crippling debt. Rest for the land. And freedom for those enslaved. Christians have also adopted this notion of jubilee proclaiming it a time of pardon for sins and for reconciliation.

Friends, we need to come together on this seventh anniversary and proclaim a year of jubilee.

• We need a jubilee of rest from the work of war…of ongoing war…of endless war. How can we have life – abundant life – in a state of never-ending war?

• We need a jubilee of rest from debt. Billions and billions have been spent on the war in Iraq. Much of it lost to corruption or lining the pockets of the war profiteers. And who will be saddled with the growing federal deficit? Our children and their children. Rest from debts was important so that the people could begin their lives anew, walking more closely in the way of the Lord God. It is my audacious prayer that war profiteers will repent and return their blood money and turn their talents towards providing world class educational opportunities and healthcare for our children.

• And we need a jubilee rest for the land. Since 9-11, our land primarily produces bombs and bullets. We’d like for our land to produce more oil and we seem to be willing to do just about anything to accomplish that. But sadly our land is no longer the great bread basket…it’s a great bomb basket…and I’m here to say that just isn’t natural.

• And a jubilee year means freedom from slavery. Freedom from the enslaving ideology that says violence must be matched by more violence. That says you kill 3,000 of ours and we’ll kill 30,000 of yours. A year of jubilee means freedom from fear and hate. A year of jubilee is grounded in God’s love for you and me and – yes – even for our enemies. A jubilee year frees us to love.

• But for me, mostly, a year of jubilee means pardon for my sins. My sins of silence and omission. Pardon for what I have done and what I have failed to do. Forgiveness for when I chose the safe way of political correctness.

This Sunday many of us will sit in our pews at church and hear the preacher read from Matthew’s gospel:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

And we will hear Jesus answer: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Yes, friends, we need to proclaim this 7th anniversary a year of jubilee. A year of rest and reflection. A year to take seriously Christ's battlecry to take up the arms of forgiveness even as we beg forgiveness for what we have done and what we have failed to do in the wake of this national tragedy. And then, at the end of such a year, we might know true freedom: the freedom to love.


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