It’s Juneteenth! Freedom Day. There’s not one image that represents Juneteenth so I chose this one from the US Human Rights Network — the backdrop is a drawing of slaves in a field superimposed with the uplifted, celebratory fists of freedom. “YES!” it says to me. Freedom. Such joy.
I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a slave hearing words of freedom. Tears of joy. Shouting. Cheering. The struggles of figuring out the future would come, but surely they allowed themselves great days of celebration. Of course, I can’t really imagine what they felt because as a white person my experience has been so different.
Juneteenth (commemorating June 19, 1865) is much in the news this year — it might even be a national holiday by this time next year. It celebrates the announcement in Texas of the end of slavery. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had come two years before, Texas was far away from the action of the Civil War. It was two months after Appamatox that troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce to slaves and slaveowners the news of freedom.
It is important to celebrate the victories that have been achieved — the end of slavery, the incredible contributions of black Americans in building this country, the accomplishments of the Civil Rights era, the changes in status and recognition of black people even while we acknowledge we have a long way to go. It is important to celebrate that white people have begun to recognize the many ways we are privileged and that the system under which we operate is deeply problemmatic for people of color. We have to acknowledge that white people are way ahead before the race of life even begins — through no accomplishments of our own: Check out this video to see what I mean:
The video ends with the words of I John 3:17-18:
How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
For Christians this is always the question: how can we love in truth and action? How can we make willing sacrifices on behalf of our brothers and sisters who have less? How is Jesus calling us to live out these words? I hope we are all thinking about these questions and giving great attention to the ways in which we love in truth and action as well as word and speech.
- In-person worship begins on July 5. All are welcome and all are welcome to make the decision to watch online instead. Both options will be available. This Sunday come to Zoom worship at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday or watch via YouTube. The links to both will be sent in all church email late Saturday or early Sunday morning.
- Tomorrow is the Solidarity Rally for Racial Justice on the Village Green in Nashville, 3-6 p.m. Planned in close cooperation with the Town of Nashville Police Department, this will be a peaceful rally for sharing information, celebrating black people in our culture and calling for greater equality and access to resources. It is NOT a protest or a march but an opportunity to learn and to spend time with people who share a concern for racial justice.
- Remember on Tuesday we have another congregational Zoom conversation about racism. Thank you to everyone who participated last week — over 30 people. This week’s conversation focuses on our baptismal vow: As a disciple of Jesus Christ I promise to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Read this article and join the conversation at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23 via zoom. The link to the meeting was sent via email.