In the previous entry, we got the opportunity to hear from Elle Grover Fricks as she expounded on the Hebrew ideas driving the word (and concept) of “Jubilee.” At one point she shared a thought that I had learned in class which stuck with me immediately. It actually served as the prompt for me to ask Elle to write something more about that.
She said that one of the image-driven ideas behind the word yuval is what comes from it’s root, yaval. She explained the concept of this root word as the idea of “being carried along like a river.” She mentioned how the Psalms use this word to refer to someone who gets swept up into the celebration of praise. Hence, the connection to joy and “jubilee.”
What I can’t stop thinking about — as I head into the second month of this second sabbatical year — is the idea that gratitude and joy and celebration are what carries us along.
It’s not a cheap “carrying us along” that simply glosses over the things we don’t want to look at. It’s not the drunken stupor that seeks to hide my problems for the weekend.
It’s not the shallow happiness that comes from consumption or indulgence — that thing we sometimes think we’re talking about when we’re talking about joy.
It’s actually the joy that serves as the ground floor of jubilee. This is a joy rooted in systemic, worldview-level thinking. When I think about biblical Jubilee, I think about land being restored to its original owner — a reordering of debt and wealth. This jubilee wasn’t just a party, but an economic reality that shook our daily experience to its core. And all of these ideas — which we can’t even fathom in our Western/American context (and many probably started writing emails as soon as they finished the last sentence) — was based on the idea of joy, praise, and gratitude. It was a recognition of our King and the kind of world that He is building.
It’s jubilee that carries us along. It’s joy that enables us to be generous. It’s gratitude that enables us to believe in resurrection when we are surrounded by death.
And so I’ve been filling up this last month with prayers for gratitude. That my joy would interrupt my irritation or selfishness. That jubilee would supersede my calendar and my to-do lists. That I would lead from an agenda of jubilee that’s bigger than my objectives, my passions, and my organization.
May this jubilee be the thing that carries us along.