A Message from Shari – National Director for the Multi-Cultural/Multi-Gen Church
The month of June was always a special time in my childhood. From the celebration of the last day of school, to the anticipated joy of summer trips and long hours of play with friends, June was always a delightful time of year. June was also the introduction of family gatherings with barbecues and sweet corn, along with platters of mouth-watering side dishes and salads. In our household, Juneteenth was the summer kick-off holiday celebration, followed by the Fourth of July. My mother would spend days on food prep for both celebrations, while I pranced around in joyous, wide eyed, childish abandonment and excitement! In addition, I eagerly awaited the arrival of cousins and neighborhood families with children invited to the celebration.
As some of you are aware, Juneteenth was established as a day of celebration, when Texas slaves commemorated their release from slavery. This was two years after Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which opened access for slaves to cross state lines to freedom. After the civil war ended in 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced in former Confederate states, with the state of Texas being one of the last. Of course, we all know the Fourth of July or Independence Day is the celebration of the passage of the Declaration of Independence, voted in on July 2, 1776. On July 4th, the Declaration was revised and officially signed. Both holidays celebrate freedom. One holiday celebrates the freedom of a people group released from the bondage of slavery; while the other celebrates the freedom of a county released from the tyranny of another country’s legislative practices and mandates.
As Christians, our freedom is not from the signing of a piece of paper, but of precious blood shed on a cross for each of us. 2 Corinthians 3:17 states, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” For those of us in Christ, His spirit dwells in us, giving us freedom from sin, fear, guilt, and the tyranny of the law.
For Christians, Juneteenth can also be viewed as a Day of Jubilee. The newly released slaves observed and called the first Juneteenth, Jubilee Day based on Leviticus 25. The Israelite’s observed this festival every 50 years to honor the Lord by releasing debts and land. The released slaves in our great country were well versed in scripture. They honored the Lord by prayer and night watches, thanking Him for their newfound freedom during the first Juneteenth celebration.
Today, many celebrate Juneteenth in our country by coming together with family, neighbors and friends. It is a blessing and privilege for us to celebrate our freedom and to celebrate our freedom of who we are in Christ. We can also celebrate Juneteenth as a Day of Jubilee by releasing our yokes of bondage of uncertainties, prejudgement and the fear of others that don’t look like us. As prayer warriors and intercessors for our nation, let’s stand firm in our freedom, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).” Juneteenth is also a day of renewal, releasing past hurts and the bondage of sin, allowing us to love one another freely,”For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love (Galatians 5:13).”
It is my heart prayer that the church will stand in unity with one another, serving and demonstrating love to each other to a broken and divided country. As summer fast approaches with June kicking off the first celebration of freedom, find someone outside of your sphere of influence and get to know them. Even better, who can we serve on this Day of Jubilee? Is there someone we need to forgive or ask for forgiveness? Is there a neighbor that we need to get to know? Let’s allow the Spirit of God to move freely in and through us.
U.S. National Director for the Multicultural/Multi-Gen Church