Juneteenth, today, is June 19th and the celebration of the end of slavery. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 but the news did not reach Louisiana and Texas until June 19, 1865. No email and no CNN in those days keeping everyone informed.
Galatians 5:1 reminds everyone today,
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Today I may not come from the tradition of slavery in the United States and in many places around the world, but I do know what it means and feels like to be enslaved. It could be alcohol, or drugs or hatred or ignorance. Memories of abuse can rob sleep, joy, and friendships. Slavery is horrible. “Christ has set us free.” Now the challenge is to live into that freedom. Christians often mark their Juneteenth, their emancipation from slavery to sin, with traditions like baptism – I enter the water a sinner and come out a saint. We often wear white to symbolize cleanliness in God’s sight – not necessarily the world’s sight. We have parties where we call friends to celebrate – our child who was lost is found.
If racial slavery is not your past today, we can still rejoice as we remember being freed and we can look to Christ who has set us free from the yoke of slavery and bondage to sin. May we take a moment to meditate on the greatness of that gift given us and may we find new ways to live into it. Blessings.