I assume many Americans, like me, heard the word ‘Juneteenth’ for the first time just recently when President Trump planned a rally in Oklahoma for June 19th. When the African American holiday, Juneteenth, was pointed out to him, our President changed the date for his rally to the 20th of June. Did anybody point out this act of respect? No, but they pointed out the fact that our President was not aware of the holiday, or why it supposedly is celebrated. Truth is, very few seem to know about it.
I personally never heard of the holiday which was declared in Texas in 1980. I was born in Texas and living there in 1980…but I had never heard of Juneteenth. I wondered why and looked it up. It seems that June 19th, 1865 was the day that slaves in Texas got the news that they were free…though it had actually happened in 1863 when the Civil War ended. My immediate family moved to Indiana in 1990 and as far as I know there was no further recognition made concerning this holiday, nor was it celebrated in Texas that I was aware of.
It took two years for the news of freedom for the black people to reach the state of Texas. It took maybe two minutes after the President failed to recognize the date for the news of this to reach the entire world… thanks to technology and the internet. The internet has been around for years now, so why haven’t we heard more about Juneteenth?
Cinco De Mayo is celebrated for our Mexican population. We have Black History Month, but why not Juneteenth? We have many calling for making Juneteenth a national holiday. Perhaps this would work best as a day for all Americans to celebrate alongside each other. Maybe the holiday has not been pushed before simply because the majority of black people are not interested in always being reminded of a history so bleak and simply thankful to be living in the USA enjoying their freedom along with the rest of us. Maybe racism isn’t as prevalent as some would like us to believe it is. Maybe most of us do accept each other in spite of our color…we all have a color…and could be happy living together if not for the evil minds of some who love to stir up controversy.
At the time Jesus appeared on earth, it had been 400 years since God had communicated directly with His people. When He told the disciples to go into all the world and tell the good news of His death and resurrection that leads to salvation He knew it would be a tremendous task. Every believer is given this same instruction and it has become known as ‘The great Commission.’
I remember decades ago when Oral Roberts, a well-known televangelist and founder of the Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, set a deadline for his Christian followers to complete the Great Commission by the year 2000. Some claimed the goal was met and today the good news of God’s love is available around the world…but that doesn’t mean that all have easy access to it or that ALL have heard it. We all know that many have rejected it… and that’s why we are where we find ourselves today…in a world of fear and uncertainty.
After years of being told to, “take care of yourself first,” and decades of greed, many even within the church, have overlooked the command to go into all the world. In fact, many fail to accept Jesus because of the fear of being sent to a foreign country or asked to do something they feel unable to do. As Jesus taught His disciples during the three years of His ministry, the church needs to teach it’s members and encourage them to share the stories of their own salvation and tell others. We must be witnesses for Christ. Along with salvation should come the desire to share. The words to an old gospel song comes to mind:
I said I wouldn’t tell it to a living soul, how He brought salvation and He made me whole.
But I found I couldn’t hide such love as Jesus did impart
It makes me laugh and it makes me cry, sets my sinful soul on fire
When God dips His love, in my heart!
May God dip His love in the hearts of those in charge of calming racial tensions in our country right now and may the love of God spread like internet news across the world. Amen