This week’s CliffNotes is by Fr Bill Walker, Director of Vocation.
Dear Christ Church,
My birthday is on June 19th, and for much of my life, I didn’t give much thought to the significance of this date – other than that it was my birthday, and sometimes Father’s Day! I had heard of Juneteenth, of course, and I knew it had something to do with the end of slavery in our country, but that was a long time ago… right?
In recent years, however, I’ve come to realize that how we remember and attend to this day has significant consequences for the church and its mission. To celebrate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation as Christians is not merely to acknowledge and agree with what this national holiday now represents. It is to say as well that the God of Jesus Christ is a good, just, and liberating God who proclaims freedom to the captives and sets the oppressed free (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18). This God is the source of all human flourishing, wholeness, and peace, so we boldly affirm with Christians and non-Christians alike that Juneteenth gives us reason for praise and thanksgiving.
It is also a reminder, though, that racism and its sinful impact on our society did not end in 1865. And while much tremendous and faithful progress has been made over the years that shouldn’t be discounted, racism and its impact did not end in 1968 or 2021 either. Our diocese shared this resource document as a guide for celebrating Juneteenth, and I encourage you to read and pray through it. Below is an excerpt from the guide of a hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” written in the 19th Century and in the context of the experience of slavery. It highlights the already-not-yet nature of the kingdom’s coming and our longing for its full arrival:
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.
P.S., This Sunday we are excited to confirm and receive 15 candidates into the church! Bishop Trevor Walters will be with us to preach and lead us in confirming and receiving these individuals into the community of faith.