Why celebrate Juneteenth in church?
Just as we are to bear one another’s burdens in Christ, we are also to celebrate every joy.
When the back of oppression in the natural realm is broken over any image bearer of God or ethnic group of image bearers, we celebrate!
No human is to be oppressed by slavery. Freedom in the natural realm points to our ultimate freedom in the spiritual realm. Through Jesus, we see justice prevail over injustice.
As I consider the words “absolute equality” by General Granger I am drawn to the Lord’s prayer:
“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
There is no greater freedom than the freedom of the human soul, united to the one whose image we bear. We are free of the power of sin and the resulting shame. Shame has devastating effects on our ability both to worship the God of the heavens and to relate to fellow God-image bearers from every tongue, tribe, nation and language.
It was for life and living that Jesus set us free (John 10:10).
The enemy of our souls has come against this freedom to steal, kill, and destroy. We witness the enemy at work in the form of oppression amongst humanity. Oppression exists between races, ethnic groups, and even power systems of this world. This oppression in the world points us to the spiritual oppression (and death) within our fallen humanity.
BUT GOD rich in mercy, sent His son, Jesus, to enter this oppression and death, to embrace a cross of shame to set us free. In Galatians, we read “For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm there, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” This freedom is the good news of the gospel. Hallelujah!
Rejoice and weep.
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with they who weep. Live in harmony with one another.”
On Juneteenth, we celebrate and rejoice with our African American brothers and sisters. We celebrate together because we do not want to become calloused to joyous freedom and thus calloused to oppression in its many forms. A calloused and hardened heart keeps us from weeping (lamenting) over injustice in any form.
Let us join our hearts in these lyrics from “Do you feel the mountains tremble?”
And we can see that, God, You’re moving
A mighty river through the nations;
And young and old will turn to Jesus
Fling wide, you heavenly gates;
Prepare the way of the risen Lord
Open up the doors
And let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring Your hope
Songs that bring Your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice