“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (NRSV)
Tomorrow, Friday, June 19, is a holiday known as Juneteenth. It is not a federal holiday and, while acknowledged in many parts of the nation, it is truly celebrated among African Americans in the south, especially Texas.
The Emancipation Proclamation which freed all slaves became the law of the land on January 1, 1863. But it was not until a group of soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 and read the proclamation aloud in Galveston, that the news of freedom had actually reached all parts of the country. It took two and a half years for free people to actually be told that they were free.
I often wonder on this holiday what it is in my own life that I think is binding me but truly is not. What things in my own life can I be freed from if I only acknowledge the power of the One who breaks all chains, sets prisoners free, can overcome even death and rise above addiction. How many times are we bound by our grief and doubt when God is whispering to us “Do you know that you’re free?”
Juneteenth in parts of Texas is celebrated with family reunions, parades, cookouts, and sometimes fireworks. It is celebrated with so much gusto because the gift of freedom is too special not to be marked. So while Juneteenth may not be in your cultural tradition or mine, I hope you won’t let tomorrow pass without some sort of acknowledgement and gratitude for the sweetness of freedom.
Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor
For those in the airline industry working so we can still travel:
Loving God, thank you for the freedom that I experience in life with you. Amen.