Happy Juneteenth Day... and A Plea to Remember
It’s good to remember. Every week our church gathers to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, with simple means of grace: songs, Word, bread, cup, prayer, and fellowship.
An outside observer may see these ordinary acts as unimportant and a waste of prime time sleep on a Sunday morning.
I believe Sunday gatherings are essential for living and making it another week.
Most weeks I run to the Lord’s table because of the way my soul’s a spectacular array of disordered loves and cases in missing the point.
I’m sinful, selfish, and prone to wander Lord I feel it, and that was only Monday. I must, no, I need to remember, and remember often with my brothers and sisters that God is alive, and he's not done with me, or his world.
I need to sing of God’s faithfulness, when I am not. I need to taste and see the Lord is good when I am not. I need to remember the world is evil and broken, and yet, God is not done restoring and reversing the curse of the fall.
I need to hear I’m a child of God, when I feel like an orphan. Need to hear my sins are many, but his mercies are more.
When I’m tired, I need to contemplate the God who never grows weary, faint, and loves to extend merciful love to Prodigal Son’s and Daughter’s.
I need to remember. We need to remember.
But in our day of everything now, no wait, yesterday, we have a hard time remembering anything of significance. C. S. Lewis said we live with the curse of chronological snobbery. Anything old, before our time, has no significance in the present.
Case in point. Today is Juneteenth Day. Most people do not understand what that means. I didn’t until a week ago. I saw it on my Apple Calendar and thought I should look it up.
Juneteenth Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day, is a significant occasion in U.S. History. On June 19th, 1865, the last slaves were freed in Texas:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere,” (Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Retrieved July 6, 2006).
It’s good to remember our freedoms. Racism is still alive and well, yes, but we can remember strides have been made in our country.
Our modern memories are an inch deep and a mile wide. Juneteenth Day doesn’t register on our radars for most Americans. Mine included, until last week. We need constant reminders things aren’t the way they're supposed to be.
We forget a hundred years ago the common cold could end your life. Cancer was a death sentence. Children worked in mines, factories, and weren’t protected by labor laws. Medicine is now available down the street at your CVS. Woman can vote. Slavery abolished. I could go on… and on…
Remember our current bodies riddled with sin and disease. Remember that Jesus promised new ones.
Marriages on life support need to remember their vows of sickness and health.
When a kid makes us want to take crazy pills, remember their births. The joy you experienced seeing new life come into earthly existence. Remember you used to be a kid, and we’re crazy, too.
When progress in faith and godliness feels like a slog, and life lacks joy, remember your baptism and the God who’s at work in the middle of the struggle.
When faith is replaced with doubts, remember the God who can’t lie, and never breaks promises.
My fear in a culture running at hyper speed with instant news, instant food, and instant everything, is our propensity to forget. Everyone runs at full tilt, and, seem to lack deep abiding joy. Running after things unidentified and uncertain and temporal. Something is not working with the American experience. Our propensity to forget is not helping.
The gospel is the only hope we have in times of uncertainty and sorrow. No amount of sentimentality or reflection can make our past wounds disappear. No amount of historical precision can lessen the blows of evil and darkness.
A sure hope amid uncertainty offered by the One who invaded time and space. Who offers a true and lasting freedom regardless of the cultural moment.
We need someone who makes promises and keeps them. Someone who says you’re forgiven and means it. One who doesn’t say I love you from afar, but proves it with a sacrificial act of love on the cross.
Let us pause and remember. May it be a daily spiritual practice. Remembering our good God, broken world, and the promise of restoration.
Happy Juneteenth Day!