12 Aug 2015

a personal Jubilee: starting over happens everyday


It was much anticipated. Singapore's wildest, biggest, most extravagant national party! There have been many movements and moments leading up to it... groups doing craft, entire blocks of flats getting a makeover with all kinds of motifs (I just saw a block that had koalas on it!), folks making videos, writing songs, doing new and wondrous things! As citizens we were given SG50 goodie bags, and over the long celebratory weekend, there will be carnivals, free rides and museum entrances. On the first day of that weekend I even bought a yoghurt at half price!

For someone convalescing and with a few commitments to attend to; I resorted to a vicarious experience of it all via social media... everyone was totally soaking up the celebratory atmosphere over the four-day long weekend. One friend wrote, "hopping from one activity to the next, the fun never ends!". Sounds rather odd for Singapore honestly!

And of course it culminated in this parade la grande ~

largest fireworks in our history


amazing black knights flew '50' formation 

-- which the family caught on TV. I totally missed it, having booked to spend time over a very special conversation with someone who just flew in. I must say I feel a hole in me for having missed our Jubilee Parade.

But losses don't have to be total! On the last day of the long weekend break, we finally headed to one of our favourite places: the Botanic Gardens, now a Unesco World Heritage site. It was so heartwarming to see families and folks strolling, enjoying the vast gardens... there was laughter and one family even did a little race across the lawn. Lovely, energetic fun with a generally cool weather to boot. It felt so good to be alive after the brush with death, and just soak up the Jubilee atmosphere!

So we're 50; and how old that feels depends on who's talking --

As a nation, this has truly been a poignant year. The fact that we are a tiny lil isle in a vast sea that is now bobbing with tremendous uncertainty is not lost to us. Looking back at our journey from colony to statehood to affluent cosmopolitan city-state is an exercise in wonder. So much and so many could have gone awry. Still, it's as if Providence charted a course for us and shielded us through it all.

Jubilee as a notion is of course far more than a mere counting of years. It is a biblical concept that is all about justice, equity and second chances. When the fiftieth year rolls around, everything must be restored. Slaves must be set free, land that was mortgaged must be returned, loans must be canceled. 
Jubilee is all of our cherished hope - the chance to start over. Can someone please wipe the slate clean? Take back my harsh words, rash decision, too quick to press 'enter' trigger finger? Can someone pls cancel away my debts, let me off the hook?
The Jubilee sounds too good to be true. It is also easily abused. The Bible warns against the abuses, and appeals to the heart that desires hope to offer it to others.

But we grasp for ourselves - first.
We want the Jubilee. We may not be so quick to offer it to others. Just forget, forgive, let go? Ask the person next to me.
The Jubilee can be mighty uncomfortable too. We are all creatures of habit and routine. To have to change course, loose bonds, re-imagine what you truly own is quite unsettling. If Ami has been making your breakfast, you could well wake up to having to make your own! From these small shifts to larger ones including taking out title deeds and handing them over; the Jubilee is hard to live out!
So each heart is squirming in the juices of calculation and wariness.
A Jubilee can only happen when we want things God's way and not ours.

It is easy to glibly raise our voices and blow our shofars at the prospect of it; but within our hearts nothing really shifts. We return back to our old ways and set patterns.

Unless -- we realise that the message of the Jubilee is about a just society that depends on God - and that happens when we are personally set free  to depend on God and not see each other as competition, see the world as a limited pie that must be carved up, see our lives as desperate, lacking, unfulfilled.

Jubilee for any society can only happen when it becomes a personal Jubilee.

We must reach for the freedom God offers us in the paradox of offering it to others.
We must reach for the freedom God offers us in the releasing of what we have crafted and engineered for our safety, security and significance.
We must reach for the freedom God offers us in the forgiving of others, and in seeking their welfare.

Listen to this:
Things We Leave Behind
It's hard to imagine
the freedom
 we find
from the things we leave behind

There is some nervousness about the future of Singapore. We have an election coming. We are maturing, asking questions and challenging norms.
There is always some anxiety in our hearts, especially those of us who are parents!

But it's the Jubilee - try to imagine freedom. And pray about finding it in your own heart first.
And that is a daily prayer, a daily discovery, a daily commitment.

More God-years Singapore!

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