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Celebrate Freedom



“I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper,” said President Abraham Lincoln just before he signed The Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. This event was a defining moment in American History when a damaging evil would finally begin to be abolished. Unfortunately, it would be another two and a half years before the word of the famous and needed proclamation reached the last of the people who had longed for that moment most. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that General Gordon Granger would arrive in Galveston, Texas, with the refreshing news. That day, indeed, was a day of independence, salvation, and freedom. The newly freed people would still face an uphill climb as they would face years, decades, and even centuries of oppression, hatred, and persecution for the color of their skin. However, that day was momentous!

                  In a few weeks, many Americans will celebrate Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress voted and adopted The Declaration of Independence. It wasn’t until August 2 of that year that the delegates of the Continental Congress began signing the document, declaring liberation from an oppressive government. July 4 is a significant anniversary that must be celebrated. And to celebrate it, we will have hamburgers, hotdogs, desserts, fireworks, music, and lots of fun. In celebrating our freedoms in America, we must also remember that not everyone in the United States became free during our declaration of freedom and its impending war. It would be another eighty-nine years before liberty would become a reality for everyone. Juneteenth is a day of independence. The formerly enslaved people began celebrating Juneteenth in 1866, the anniversary of General Granger’s arrival with the news.

Juneteenth should not be a day of celebration for only black Americans. Juneteenth should be a day of celebration for all Americans. For the American Church, it should be a day of celebration and repentance on behalf of our Nation. It was a day of celebration because the evil institution of slavery in America was close to abolishment. A day of repentance because America, including its Church (Some people and churches fought for the abolishment of slavery.), allowed, promoted, and even sought to expand slavery, as well as fought to protect it. Our hearts should break over sin, including the wickedness of slavery. If we justify sin, we will never see the need for repentance. For too long, we have looked away, having justified slavery in America, believing that there is nothing that we could do about it. However, America is not falling apart because of Biden or Trump. America is damaged because of the evils that it has allowed. We must not justify the wickedness of slavery but acknowledge that it is wrong. Repentance requires acknowledgment (1 John 1:9) of the wrong. The “Christians” (not all Christians) in America have become political prisoners, believing that their favorite candidate can save the Nation. They will polarize, divide, and hurt others in pursuing what they think is right. However, the only remedy is repentance in Christ. As the Church, let us not be political prisoners because politics will further divide us. Instead, let us be followers of Christ, bridging the gap and fighting against injustice and evil in America and worldwide. “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 ESV). In so doing, we will remove every ethnocentric idea and philosophy, understanding that in Christ, we are all equal (Galatians 3:25-28). The Church should lead everyone else in actions that prove that “All men are created equal.” Let us celebrate freedom! We can celebrate freedom on Juneteenth and July 4. We can celebrate freedom every day. We can walk in freedom through Christ. Join me today as I celebrate freedom on June 19, 2024.  

 

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 ESV

 

In Christ,

Pastor Josh May

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