I am writing just after returning from a visit to India. I was representing the United Reformed Church at a meeting of Church of North India mission partners, and to join in the start of their “year of jubilee” (see Leviticus 25:8-55) ahead of the 50th anniversary of the CNI’s formation which will fall on Advent Sunday (Nov 29th) next year.
Although I’m not sure that the mission partners’ consultation has achieved much, so far, in helping them to discern what their mission priorities for the next ten years should be, it was good to be part of their conversation.
A number of things particularly struck me during my visit, not least being encouraged that they are seeking a wide input from their 2 million members, and that they are planning ten years ahead.
But the theme of jubilee (including blowing ram’s horn – a shofar) was the most powerful aspect. Indian Christians are almost exclusively from the most marginalised members of society (the Dalit or “untouchables”, who could be hit for even allowing their shadow to fall on a person of higher caste, and the “tribal” peoples). They have lived with oppression, but have found freedom in Christ, who came to save us all, regardless of class, ethnicity, or background. The Prince of Peace came to bring real peace to humanity.
Jubilee is all about liberation and justice for the oppressed and marginalised. That is also why Jesus came (Luke 4:16-21). These are values which we will do well as we seek to decide which way we should vote in the General Election, and how we should order our church life and mission efforts.
I hope that your advent preparations and Christmas celebrations will leave time to reflect on these values of God’s Kingdom, and that you will together seek ways to being about peace, hope, joy and freedom to your neighbours. What might your church do to sound the shofar and proclaim jubilee?
I wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful, happy and healthy new year in 2020.