Picking, Pulling, Packing—Jubilee or Bust

It is after 2:30 am and, according to the wonderful and important piece Lauren Winner had in Books in Culture I should be in bed. It is thoughtful theological advise that my common sense ma would give, and in my bones I know she is right. But it is Monday night and it feels like the middle of the week already, so I must press on.
Many of you know that the CCO’s big tent, showcase, flagship, zippitteedodah, major domah (it’s too late to look up the spelling, but you get my drift) event, JUBILEE, is coming up at the end of this week. It is our job to select and order extra copies of oodles of books on everything from biology to international law, racial reconciliation to history, books which will help Christian students think Christianly about their callings, careers and cares. There are workshops on business and U2 and sex and astronomy and advertising, all by published “experts” who are faithful disciples of Christ and who have found that their Christian vision of things—their worldview—colors and shapes how they “see” and think, and the implications they imagine about their field.
What a great event, bringing together well over 1500 college students to praise the Lord of creation by being busy thinking hard about what it means, and what it looks like, to serve Christ “in the world but not of it.” Art, business, law, medicine, education, engineering, philosophy; no discipline is exempt from the claims of the gospel and no student can suggest that her field is of no significance in God’s economy. “No little people, no insignificant places” as Schaeffer used to say. Every area of life and every academic discipline can be construed from God’s point of view and every serious Christian student will have to struggle to think this through, since they may be in university settings that are hostile to their faith. Church and University conspire to tell students—sometimes directly, sometimes implicitly—to keep their faith out of their scholarship and public lives. Jubilee helps equip them to wisely navigate all that stuff.
And so, we’ve been corresponding with speakers and workshop leaders, CCO staffers and Jubilee committee members, trying to get our role in all of this figured out and done well. We’re renting trucks and rounding up volunteers and taking extra vitamins for the all nighter we have to pull to set up our display. I’ve attended Jubilee since ’72 (it wasn’t even called that then) and played a minor role in getting the theme switched to this worldviewish and reformational vision to bring restoration to the field of higher learning and get students to ponder how their deepest convictions relate to their work in college and beyond. The student conference switched to the name JUBILEE and developed this unique approach nearly 30 years ago.
Jubilee is a favorite Biblical theme for me. Learned about it first from Peter J. Steen, a Calvinist Dutchman who taught from John Howard Yoder’s remarkable book, The Politics of Jesus to anybody in Western Pennsylvania who would show up in his itinerent classrooms. Slow of mind that I am, it took me a while to determine that Yoder’s Mennonite pacifism didn’t exactly sit well with Steen, whose pals in Canada where trying to start a Christian political party, modeled after the CDA in Netherlands. Like the famous prime minister of Holland, Abraham Kuyper, that I write about occasionally in this space, Steen taught us not only to celebrate the goodness all around but to be discerning about the deep philosophical foundations–and subsequent baggage–that comes along with cultural customs and social institutions. So, unlike Yoder, he wanted to distinctively Christian witness within the system, so to speak, a radically Christian party that honored pluralism and principles. Of course to get some kind of “third party” that is viable there would most likely need to be a shift to proportianal representation. Steen got us working on that, too, a project still carried out by our friends at the Center for Public Justice (who will be at Jubilee, by the way.)
Still, Yoder taught Steen, who taught those of us who followed him around in the 70’s, that the Hebrew Scriptures—Leviticus 25 to be exact–called for an every 50 year pattern of social, economic and political restitution. Land rested, debts were forgiven (thank goodness some churches still say “forgive us our debts” the the Lord’s prayer, making the link explicit between Jesus and Levitical economics), criminals got out of jail and the whole social order was reconstituted around God’s original theme of shalom and justice.
Generations later, the prophet Isaiah preaches on this (see Isaiah 61) and then that text becomes the reading of Jesus’ first sermon (recorded in Luke 4) where he annouced that in Him, this favorable year is now a reality. Whew!
Many readers of this blog know all this. Some even know that this dream of right-ness, a well-ordered culture, full of Jubilee peace and grace, Sabbath rest, a second chance, shalom, is emblematic for the Pittsburgh conference. Of course this gathering is more than about debt relief (although praise the Lord, the Jubilee 2000 campaign folks will be there!) It is about the CCO’s larger dream of impacting students in a way that helps them come to know God, receive the fullness of Christ’s salvation, and then work that out in every zone of life. Jubilee helps college students relate faith to their academics in a way that most churches rarely even suggest. We think it is very important. It is the highpoint of our year.
You have seen, hopefully, the blinky thingie on our blogsite for these past weeks. Click on it now. It will take you to the Jubilee website, and you can browse at the workshops, speakers, author appearances and–if you look carefully–you will seem some photos of last year’s book display. You may be able to tell that it is the largest thing we do all year. The pulling, packing and schlepping the boxes around is hard work, but we are thrilled to be so stressed.
Please pray, if you are the praying type, for the conference, the CCO leaders, the speakers and, of course, the students who come, perhaps seeking some guidance, some hope, some new chance to find purpose and passion. We believe that this cultural reformation stuff, this call to live for Christ’s glory across the whole of life, to relate worship and work, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Of course we are still dealing with customers, mail orders, family stuff (Marissa’s hospitalization was scary and we are happy to have her back on some kind of a schedule, mixing mediations and hoping for some relief from her chronic pain.) Just today had an unpleasant conversation with a feisty customer about amazon. And a publisher was less than candid about a shipping deadline they missed. Blah, blah, blah. But the household and business are all caught up in something better than Super Bowl fever. We’re going to Pittsburgh for Jubilee. Who knows, maybe we will see you there.

4 thoughts on “Picking, Pulling, Packing—Jubilee or Bust

  1. I always loved Jubilee. Have a fantastic time, Byron. I’ll be thinking/praying for all of you at the event.

  2. Lara: Wow, it has been a while. Your blog and website are fabulous. Jubilee will miss you, and I will too.By the way, on Feb. 20, the same time you were listening to The Last Night of the World by Cockburn, I was, too. Over and over again; long story. This is very strange.THANKS.Rob: It will be crazy but we’ve got to talk. For those that don’t know–follow his link back to his CINO site. Good stuff!Byron

  3. I hope that God met you all this past weekend. I trust that He did. Perhaps my path will bring me back to Jubilee again at some point…re: that Cockburn song… I’m always taken with it, everytime I hear it. I’ve played it for many people over the years and from the looks on their faces, I often think “they just don’t get it.” Glad to hear that someone does.

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