I shall walk in liberty for I have followed your precepts. (Psalm 119:45)
Today is Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day and Jubilee Day. On June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation – which had been issued on January 1, 1863 – was read to newly freed African Americans in Galveston, Texas by General Gordon Granger. On Juneteenth, our calling is to let freedom ring for every citizen, regardless of color.
Here in the USA, we face on a daily basis the impact of the “original sin” of slavery and racism and the ongoing reality of systemic injustice in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” As Americans, we need to repent and change our ways. We need to ensure that every person in our nation is treated as God’s beloved child, treated equally and given an opportunity to fulfill God’s vision for her or his life.
Let us celebrate Juneteenth as well as the Fourth of July as we seek to live our nation’s dream. Let us welcome strangers, honor diversity, and see every encounter as an opportunity to bless neighbor and stranger alike. Let us remember that in the body of Christ, there is no “other.” We are one in Christ. We are all in this together. Let us love one another.
To celebrate Juneteenth, I invite you to listen to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (sung at the historic Abyssian Baptist Church in Harlem) often desecrated as the Black National anthem, written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) in 1900 and set to music by his brother J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954)
Let us lift every voice and sing, celebrating the freedom of all people and claiming our place as God’s justice seekers. Let us keep our eyes on the prize of a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all. Amen
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over 50 books including FAITH IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC and GOD ONLINE: A MYSTIC’S GUIDE TO THE INTERNET