When I think of our country and its history, I think of the ideals we are still aiming toward and the process that has gotten us here. America was born in 1776. Two hundred and forty-four years ago. The country was not born out of a peaceful consensus that the world needed a better way to move forward, but out of struggle, contention, and ultimately war. That’s how we’ve earned our stars and our stripes.
The world America was born in was a broken world, a world full of transgressions, malevolence, and crime. Those who colonized this land, did so to enrich the British crown and to enlarge its empire. But about 250 years into it, a generation arose with a greater ideal, and ideal of freedom. It was proclaimed that all men are created equal, with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It was an ideal.
This ideal was in deadening contrast with reality. A reality marred by a myriad of sins, the greatest of them was slavery. The ideals declared and the rights proclaimed were not immediately applied to every human being in this brand new nation. There was a clash of ideas, and a struggle for power. The true fallen nature of men tried to grip and hold on to the monstrosity and decadent exploitation of their brothers and sisters. Though many didn’t acknowledge equality with the oppressed, the seed of freedom had been sown, and the journey toward that ideal was underway.
Thirty-two years after that declaration our nation stopped the importation of slaves. Fifty-five years after that, on January 1st, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by president Abraham Lincoln. Again, freedom was costly. It was not a peaceful process. The country was divided and at war with itself.
But even though Freedom was proclaimed, it wasn’t granted until the fight was won.
The Good News of Freedom had been proclaimed, but the slaves in Texas didn’t enjoy it because Texas was the last stronghold of the Civil War. For over two years they struggled, the country fought, and slaves in Texas remained in bondage because freedom though proclaimed had not yet been reached.
It wasn’t until June 19th, 1865, that Major General Gordon Granger arrived in the beaches of Galveston, Texas, declaring that the war had ended and that slaves were now free.
Could you imagine having freedom available but not being able to enjoy it?
No wonder Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in our country today.
Juneteenth marks the end of slavery, but not the end of oppression and suffering of black people in this country. Slaves immediately received status, but healing and integration has progressed with contention and struggle. The end of slavery was followed by segregation, and as that ended, we still deal with the stronghold of racism in our country.
Juneteenth is important because on that day America–a young nation–took a very important step toward becoming The Land Of The Free, and it encourages us to keep moving forward.
As our country grapples with the reality of racism, I wonder if we all realize how much we can glean from Juneteenth to conquer this evil. Just as slavery was not a problem from which only America had to rid itself–most societies enslaved people–racism is not an American problem, though it is a problem in America.
Racism is a human problem.
But a proclamation has been made. Freedom from racism is readily available. We don’t have to continue to live under the bondage of animosity and enmity; we don’t have to be defined by our scars. Christ’s scars have replaced ours. He fought the good fight, and He won the war against sin and death. When he proclaimed “it is finished” it was a declaration that the mission to reconcile humanity to our Heavenly Father was completed.
‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ‘
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ESV
Again it’s been declared:
‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.’
Galatians 3:28-29 ESV
We are all brothers and sisters; every last one of us.
Just as freedom was the end of slavery, love is the end of racism.
So this Juneteenth, let’s celebrate freedom, not like those who have no answer to our problems, but like those who have the solution; today, let’s love one another.
Lead Pastor – ConnectCommunity
‘Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.’
Romans 12:9-10 esv