Today’s Word ‘Juneteenth’ as in… grateful for it.
The book of Philippians was written by the Apostle Paul from a prison cell in Rome in about the year 61 BCE. Paul and his partners in ministry had started this community of faith on what we now know as Paul’s second missionary journey. In fact, Philippians was the first church established on the European continent.
Even from a prison cell, Paul was filled with joy and gratitude for these people. Here’s what he wrote to them:
“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”
Let me just remind us again how stunning it was that Paul wrote Philippians from prison cell. When life gets tough, when the great challenges of the day seem to pile up, there is power in giving thanks.
Today we’re giving thanks for another observance of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Also known as Liberation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Emancipation Day, Juneteenth dates back to June 19, 1865 when the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Juneteenth 2020. It’s a reminder that while we’ve come some distance, we’ve got miles and miles to go before we rest.
So on this day let’s just pause to give thanks for voices who speak clearly for justice, for hearts and hands that join together in the ongoing work of freedom for all people.