Juneteenth

18 06 2012

June 19th is a celebration day. It is known as Juneteenth, marking a day of freedom dating back to the Civil War. On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law freeing all slaves in the United States. The news, however, of the President’s proclamation of freedom was slow in spreading across the country. In our world of instant access, internet updates, 24-hour news channels, and cell phone communication it almost seems unthinkable to us to imagine news taking years to get to the people who need it most. But that is what happened. Juneteenth celebrates the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, a year and a half after President Lincoln signed it into law. On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, bringing with them news of the end of the Civil War and announcing freedom for the state’s quarter million slaves. Today more than half the states in the United States celebrate Juneteenth as a memorial for the day freedom rang across the country.

Can you imagine the faces of slaves hearing this news for the first time? They had been free for eighteen months and didn’t know it. They hadn’t heard the good news. No word had reached them, and so they continued to see themselves as slaves. They spent those eighteen months hoping and praying for a deliverance that had already arrived.

The parallel is easy to see. Jesus is God’s Emancipation Proclamation. He signed it in blood, nailing it to the cross for all to see. It declares freedom, new life, and hope for those held in slavery by sin. But word spreads slowly. There are many who haven’t heard the good news. Chained by guilt and bound by shame, they walk through this world unaware that freedom has already arrived.

My Jesus Resolution today is to proclaim freedom. I am going to celebrate the freedom I have in Christ. I am going to be humbled and thankful for the gift that is mine because of Jesus. I am going to ask God to open my eyes. I want to see the chains that bind others, the slavery that ensnares them, and sin for the dreadful taskmaster that it is. I have an opportunity to proclaim freedom today. A Union soldier walked into Texas, bringing with him news of freedom and life changed forever. Where are you going to walk today?


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