To proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:2-3 (NIV)
It has been said that when Jesus read this passage at the outset of His public ministry that it was, in fact, the year of Jubilee. How fitting that would have been! The year of Jubilee was this wonderful year that came around once every 50 years, and in that year, all debts were canceled and all slaves set free.
All of us have “baggage”. We are all broken by sin, but I have found that often on the reservation the brokenness of addiction and of physical and sexual abuse is hugely magnified. I have visited with young people from the reservation who are in jail, and their stories would rip your heart out. It is easy to give up because you feel there is just no hope of a future when you live with this kind of hurt. I have seen the same individuals go through rehab time after time after time. They are yearning for a freedom and a “Jubilee” that only Jesus can give.
Jesus lovingly offers us beauty for the ashes of our broken lives. He anoints our life with “the oil of gladness”. He clothes us with the warm and soothing “garments of praise” and makes us strong oaks in our broken world.
Lord God, our prayer during this season of Advent, is that our native brothers and sisters, who are bound by the pain of addiction and abuse, would receive their “year of Jubilee” by your grace and mercy and through Your Son, Jesus, Amen.