Lock and Key
“…to proclaim liberty to captives and release to those in prison.”
Jesus begins his ministry in a synagogue, reading from the prophet Isaiah’s scroll. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, . . . freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” (Luke 4:18-19). This, he declares, is exactly what he will do.
Good news to the poor? Sight to the blind? Go for it. But why unlock prison doors and let the guilty go free? Hasn’t he heard about law and order?
What he’s heard about is God’s vision of Jubilee, “the year of the Lord’s favor.” Every seventh year—the Jubilee—was to be a year of justice restored. Those in debtor’s prison, who couldn’t hold onto their land and livelihood, would be released, their land restored. Jubilee was God’s liberating dream of justice that most scholars believe was never actually put into practice. Jesus intended to change that—to make that deferred dream a reality.
We cannot pray for the coming of the Lord without agreeing to unlock the prisons for those wrongly convicted, those railroaded by an often unjust system, those who are essentially born into servitude, for whom prison walls are just the inevitable conclusion of their life.
The best preparation for Christmas is to work for justice, start unlocking the prison doors.
Prayer: Lord, you were arrested, unjustly accused, endured a circus trial and execution by the state; hear our prayers for all who languish behind bars, and give us the courage to open their prison doors. Amen.
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