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Letter from Amy: June 19, 2024



Happy Juneteenth, Incarnation!


Juneteenth celebrates the final end of slavery in America. On June 19, 1865 — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — news of liberation finally reached the remote city of Galveston, Texas, and the last quarter of a million enslaved people finally realized the freedom that was rightly theirs.


There are many excellent resources for observing Juneteenth prayerfully and thoughtfully. I loved this post over on Art & Theology about the stained glass windows in a Chicago church, which powerfully depict Jesus’ incarnation in the context of slavery. The art in the church is stirring, as is their commitment to spiritual and societal renewal through truth-telling arts.


And I appreciated this roundup of resources on David Swanson’s blog (links near the end).


I also appreciate this collect, which a friend wrote for Juneteenth several years ago:


Almighty God, who sent your Son Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to proclaim freedom for the captives and declare the year of the Lord’s favor: Grant this day the hope of freedom for those who are oppressed by the powers of the world, that by your righteous arm all may be delivered to live in the peace and justice of your Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


And this prayer, which was prayed in a Zoom gathering I attended this morning:


Today, we commemorate the end of slavery in America.

This day partially reminds us of the progress made.

This day also partially reminds us of the progress we have not made.

We celebrate the freedom of black lives in our nation.

We grieve that we have not correctly reconciled racism in our nation.


You created each person in Your image.

The two greatest commandments call us to love You with all our heart, souls, and minds;

Then, to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Your love for us motivates us to love each other.

If we do not love each other, then ultimately, we have not experienced Your love.


As much as we commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth, we grieve this day.

We mourn that our black brothers and sisters have not been loved as our neighbors.

We mourn that our black brothers and sisters have been treated less than created in Your image throughout history.

So, Lord, we confess our sins and repent.

The healing and reconciliation we desire comes from the gospel.


On Juneteenth this year, we ask You to guide our nation.

May the good news of the gospel motivate us to love each other.

May the ideals of our words match the practices of our lives.

May a fresh empowerment of Your Spirit unite us together.

Give us eyes to see and ears to hear Your will and leading.


***


I’m also mindful of other parts of our world where pain and injustice and bondage are still experienced, despite Jesus’ freeing us from sin, shame, death, and hell. The news of that freedom has not yet reached the remotest edges of the world’s kingdoms, or of our own hearts. Juneteenth reminds us of the long delay between freedom declared and freedom realized. And it invites us to lament this delay and to pray and act with renewed zeal for God's kingdom to come.


In the meantime, we are called to be ambassadors of Jesus’ kingdom to the world. We are called to the creative, challenging, dying-to-self work of peacemaking. Katie preached such a powerful sermon on this work last Sunday.


This week we wrap up our series on Ordinary Church with our final statement: We are citizens of God's kingdom. See you then!


With love,

Amy

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