Like most people the words Corona Virus seems to be the only words on my mind, I have already heard of people dying, family members who have symptoms and even a couple of people in my church have been self-isolating with a suspected case. But there are three words that have been circulating in my head and they are Sabbath, Gleaning and Jubilee. I believe these ancient words, which go deep into the old testament law, speak into our current time.

Sabbath

We have been living in a 24/7 world which is built on a model of continuous growth, but suddenly we are told to stop doing what we have been doing. To slow down and stop. Our world is going through a global sabbath, and it comes at a great cost to human life. But in the process pollution is being lifted, birds song is being heard, canals are getting cleaner, policemen are serenading people in the street, we are learning to appreciate shop workers, cleaners and doctors. We are connecting with people who we wouldn’t normally speak to. I know we will go back to the way life was, but maybe we can learn a lesson that we don’t need 24/7 as much as we thought we did. It is good to pause and stop, to appreciate the small connections we make each day.

Gleaning

While stock-piling has been headline news, many others are buying extra, but not for themselves, there are stories of generosity of people as well. Foodbanks who were struggling are now full, other smaller local food banks have sprung up for those who require emergency food. People are taking take aways to their elderly neighbours.  The pictures of empty shelves do tell us that there are many people out there who are living selfish lives, but there are hundreds of stories that we will never see, of people stock piling food to give away.

Jubilee

Too many people have bought into the lie that Capitalism and Democracy are Christian values, they are part of our Western Christian culture, but the fact is that the Bible references neither of them. But, even for many well-read Biblical Christians , Capitalism and Christianity go hand in hand together. Many will politically argue for a small state, low tax economy, as if that is what the Bible states. The Bible writers would have no concept of Capitalism or Socialism as economic systems. But we have somehow missed that. We often do not think it is for Governments to balance out wealth, hoping Multi-millionaires and Billionaires will voluntarily give away their excess, and while this does indeed happen, the financial impact of this global problem will mean that the redistribution of wealth, the release of debts and the balancing out of our society will have to happen. If the Bible offers one economic model, it is that of Jubilee. I believe that we will have no other option in the next year than to see a Jubilee happen.

Three words: Sabbath, Gleaning and Jubilee

 

Michael Shaw

Michael Shaw is the pastor of Devonport Community Baptist Church in Plymouth.