Each year from September 1 to October 4, the Christian family unites for this worldwide celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home.
Climate change is a result of the intersection of greed, inequality and destruction of God’s Earth. The theme of Jubilee is chosen for this year’s Season of Creation as it reflects those three interlocking themes. Jubilee is a time to renounce over-consumption and economic systems based on constant economic growth at the cost of the Earth and those who are poor. Jubilee is a time when those who have consumed the most must make restitution to those who have suffered the most. Jubilee is a time of rest for the land from constant exploitation, to restore ecosystems and people.
The concept of Jubilee is rooted in the holy wisdom that there must exist a just and sustainable balance between social, economic and ecological realities. When one variable is exploited to maximize growth of another, the whole system will eventually suffer. When one part of the Earth community is stressed, every part is affected. In 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic demonstrated this reality on a global scale. While the experience of living with the COVID-19 outbreak points back to this need to maintain justice, the lessons that we learn may point us towards the need for a Jubilee and motivate us to restore balance to the very systems that sustain life.
And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. (Leviticus 25:10, NRSV).
Jubilee means “a ram’s horn.” It was blown to mark the time of universal redemption. The year of Jubilee involved release from indebtedness, when injustices of the past fifty years were to be restored. It was also a time for rest for the land.
The theme of Jubilee has clear links to the root paradigms fueling unjust exploitation, such as neoliberal and capitalist approaches to the world economy. It brings together the need for a prophetic voice on climate injustice and actions for the restoration of the Earth. The theme of Jubilee affirms the need for equality, justice and sustainability, and a transition to sustainable economies. It honours the Jubilee 2000 Campaign, which successfully called for an amnesty on debt for global South countries and redistribution of wealth. And 2020 marks 50 years since the first Earth Day when the environmental movement was born.
Season of Creation 2020 is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of Jubilee today. How will we, as persons and as the Church:
- Recognize God’s ownership of the whole world, and all our possessions?
- Release what we have back to God, both spiritually and practically?
- Recognize our total dependency on God and all his Creation?
- Receive God’s provision in patience and trust?