On to Jubilee! A thank you for being part of our work, and a request for prayer.

I hate to alarm anyone, but parking our big rented U-Haul right by our store’s back door, and lugging literally hundreds of boxes out the door does give the impression we’re closing down and moving out.  

Local customers that know us well just shake their heads at all the mess, stepping over packing supplies and electric cords and signs and paperwork and moveing around stacks of books almost as high as their shoulders, and say “It’s that time of year again, isn’t it, for that big Jubilee conference out in Pittsburgh?”  
A pop-up bookstore that we curate and build there takes two big days to set up and by Friday night we’ll be ready to show books to nearly 3000 college students, brought to the David Lawrence Convention Center by the various campus staff from the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach.) Forty-one years ago Beth and I were on a committee planning this unique event designed to help college students relate faith to all areas of life, including their academic majors, developing the mind of Christ and a Biblically-informed vision for their calling into careers.
Which is why we take over 150 categories of books, from Christian views (or books by otherjubilee  booktable.JPG ethical or insightful writers) of engineering to film studies, from health care to mathematics, from urban planning to politics.  Of course we take lots of basic sorts of Christian resources for living into discipleship and spiritual formation. I know many of you have read our regular columns the week after Jubilee each year and have expressed appreciation for the good work of the CCO and our role in promoting reading and books to these earnest young adults.
The Friday of Jubilee starts earlier in the day with an event for adults, and although it is more-or-less indigenous to the ‘burgh, hosted by the fantastic Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation, people fly in from all over the country to attend Jubilee Professional.  I’m nervous about my small role there, highlighting titles that relate well to their ministry among artists, entrepreneurs, and others in the work-world because they do such a very good job and there’s so many interesting people there.  
And then I get to stand up three different times to speak in front of the 3000 folks on the main-stage at Jubilee, and then I’m doing a smaller workshop Sunday morning about the theme of the year of Jubilee from Leviticus 25, as promised in Isaiah 61, which served as the manifesto for Jesus’s own first sermon, his inaugural address found in Luke 4.
A Mennonite scholar named John Howard Yoder first introduced me to this in the mid-70s through his legendary book The Politics of Jesus.  Later, some friends affiliated with the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto helped us clarify all that implies and invited us to call the conference Jubilee.  It is, after all, about the restoration of all things promised by the grand story of the Scriptures, and what it looks like to live out that kind of hopeful witness in every zone of life. God’s promises of shalom and healing and peace and justice and linked to Christ’s own role as the Jubilee bringer.
jubilee every square inch.jpgThis Jubilee conference — this year using the motto “every square inch” drawn from Abraham Kuyper, whose early 1900s Dutch legacy of an all-of-life-redeemed worldview is always hovering around the edges of this event — is about Christ redeeming all things.  The CCO’s main motto, by the way, is “transforming college students to transform the world.”  That would be every square inch of the world, since Christ loves and died for and is redeeming it all.  
Which is why work and art and science and sports and TV and sex and business and computers and families and education and churches all matter equally. It’s all good, it’s all mess up, it’s all been bought by by the blood of the Lamb, risen now, sending us in the power of His Spirit into all the world.  
serious dreams copies fanned.jpgIt is inspiring to know that conversations about this kind of stuff —  about work and culture and taking faith missionally into the neighborhoods and “every square inch” of creation —  going on all over the country and we feel truly blessed by God to have been involved in some of this kind of work, on and off, for 40 years.

It was one of the motivating reasons I put together my book, Serious Dreams: Bold Ideas for the Rest of your Life, that hopefully captures some of what we’ve learned at Jubilee over the years, about integrating faith and work, serving God in little ways and in big dreams, helping young adults find God’s story for their lives. We always come back from Jubilee so impressed with the CCO staff (to whom the book is dedicated, by the way) and the work they do with their college age students.

Since you, our customers, are part of this story, too — you wouldn’t subscribe to BookNotes and send orders our way if you didn’t feel some connection to our work — we just wanted to tell you where we are this week and ask you to pray for us. We really need God’s energy and insight and we want the truths of the gospel that we affirm to touch our hearts so we trust that “things shall be well.” 

We should be reminding you about our in-store event here in Dallastown with Jubilee speaker Michael Wear on March 10th (I hope you saw our review of his book Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America) or our in-store coloring event on March 21st with Chris Rodkey, author of the Coloring Through Lent devotional I reviewed last week.

Our staff are here ready to continue to mail order’s out, so let us know what we can do to serve you.


We wanted to share this video of Jon Tyson (pastor of Trinity Grace in New York City and co-author of Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You’ve Only Heard About) of his Saturday night Jubilee talk two years ago.Once he gets warmed up he explains “the Jubilee vision” as clearly as nearly anyone in the conference’s history. It’s well worth watching. He will be speaking Friday night this year, and we look forward to hearing him again.

And, just because some have asked, here’s my own talk from last year’s Jubilee where I had the great privilege of doing one of the Sunday morning presentations.  It’s on big hope, and maybe it will help you in these troubled times in our nation.  It was the fourth in a series of Jubilee talks, each done by different speakers, on the big Biblical story starting with creation, lamenting the fall into sin and alienation, the truth of Christ’s redemption, and the big hope of restoration. 
Those four “chapters” of the Biblical worldview have been the framework for Jubilee in recent years — students really appreciate seeing their lives making sense as they understand this narrative of how the Bible makes sense of things.  Anyway, I’m wrapping up the conference and get a bit enthusiastic.  Sorry to shout.

Well, it’s a big event, a good part of our story, and we wanted you to be a part of it too.  Thanks.

Here is something I wrote to a friend the other day, asking for prayer for health and stamina, wisdom and graciousness:
Please pray for us, if you can.  As I wrote to somebody the other day, we’re working 18 + hour days getting reading for the biggest thing we do, the Jubilee conference out in Pittsburgh (a college student event that we helped develop 41 years ago about the Lordship of Christ over all of life and integrating faith/learning in various vocations and studies) and our big display of nearly 150 categories. It’s just crazy-making, keeping it all straight, finding the right stuff, juggling the various topics from Christian views of engineering to film to education to counseling to politics to math and on and on, lugging boxes here and there from our overstock room in the basement.  We rent a big truck and load it Tuesday and Wednesday and drive to Pittsburgh late Wednesday so we can start setting up early Thursday. It takes two whole days, with some volunteer help. We’re pretty stressed by it all… 

We really do covet your prayers — I’ve got a lingering cough that has me dragging, and we all are sore from all the lifting and lugging. Yesterday the computer/printer wasn’t working right when Beth is making signs for all  the speakers who have books so the tech struggles are particularly frustrating and time consuming. She spends days on it… we’re just exhausted, and the fun hasn’t even begun.

But once we get there, the ministry with books and counseling students is so rich and rewarding we serve non-stop through the power of the Spirit (and adrenaline and caffeine that friends bring us like manna.) There is nothing like it that we do all year.  We hope we make a difference for God’s good work, to Christ’s glory. We hope people know that we really believe in reading as an act of Christian growth, as an act of discipleship and as a way to learn about our responsibilities in the world God loves.  I sometimes shout out, “Read for the Kingdom!” 

And while your praying, pray for our family and staff. My mom turns 90 today, and our staff are valiant holding down the fort in Dallastown while we’re away.

Check it out at www.jubileeconference.com


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