June 19th is officially a federal holiday.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported, “Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery and is also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day and Juneteenth Independence Day. Its name stems from June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, issued General Order No. 3, which announced that in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation, “all slaves are free.” Months later, the 13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the final four border states that had not been subjected to President Abraham Lincoln’s order" (17 June 2021)
This week, I wanted to share three key thoughts about what this new holiday means for Jesus people like us living in America, today.
1. We have an incredible opportunity to empathize and connect with our neighbors.
While some of us might not feel the hurt of past sins, we are called to empathize and share the pain that our black neighbors and friends have and continue to experience.
Empathy is part of Jesus’ way (Hebrews 4:15).
Want to learn more about empathy? Click here to check out Brene Brown’s video. Sharing this video does not endorse or imply agreement in all things.
2. We have a chance to love people and not an opinion or social issue.
People are people - not a collection of opinions or social issues. God made each of us with intrinsic value (Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:14). So, to pride ourselves on an opinion or social issue as if it is gospel truth is not loving people - it’s actually loving oneself.
Jesus chooses humility (Philippians 2:1-5). He empties his opinion (Philippians 2:6) in order to love all people (John 3:16), not to judge or condemn them (John 3:17).
One way to love people this Juneteenth is to listen and learn from somebody in the black community. Invite them to share how you can honor their freedom and join Jesus in His mission of reconciliation.
3. Juneteenth brings another opportunity for people to experience grace in a different way.
Jesus’ spirit is alive and well in every time, culture, and place. That means through something seemingly secular as a federal holiday, God is at work.
The Emancipation Proclamation echoes the words of the Apostle Paul: you are free (Romans 6:18). This is grace! Freedom was originally theirs. It was taken from them by somebody else. And now freedom was restored.
This is their story. This is God’s story. This is our story.
When we connect the dots, we can come together and experience God’s grace in a shared and different way than the earned grace the world can offer us.
Let me know what you think about this week’s blog by sending me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
I love you and I’m cheering you on as we live life on mission, together! -pt
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.