I celebrated a birthday a month ago (57), and was surprised once again to receive cards and greetings from people I would not have thought remembered that it was my birthday. Now, certainly modern technology helps in keeping up with such things, but it says something that a person takes the time to program a date so they don’t forget a person’s birthday. To remember a birthday says to someone they matter enough to make a day important to them worth your remembering.
Today is Juneteenth, the 155th anniversary celebrating the end of slavery in America. Hopefully, by now, you know that is the date officially ending slavery in Texas, the last region to receive word of the Civil War outcome and the declaration that slavery had been abolished. I say “hopefully,” because if we are taking time to notice and learn, then it means we are letting people, African America, know that we take notice, and because we remember, it sends the message that we, white America, care.
I want to encourage you today to set aside some time to do acts of remembering and learning. At noon today our Council of Bishops is making a video announcement titled “Dismantling Racism: Pressing onto Freedom.” You can access here.
On June 24 there will be A Service of Lament sponsored by the General Board of Church and Society. You can find information about this service and many other resources through UMC.org/EndRacism This is an invaluable resource our denomination has put together. One item you will find there is a video by Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. She put together a 20 minute video that is very helpful. If you do nothing else today to mark Juneteenth, take a few minutes and watch this.
Finally, don’t miss this Sunday’s Anchor Point. The class will be different this week as we are led by Rev. Michelle Ledder in a workshop on what it means to be an anti-racist church. Now, I know that the tone of this message and the way I use “we,” sounds like I am writing just to the white members of St. Luke’s. Forgive me. Yes, we may be majority white, but we are not defined by whiteness. I regret the way times like this create a need for conversation to the majority membership. The aim is to get us to a place where true oneness prevails and unity is something that is realized not just written. So forgive the categories, and pray with me for the way this period in our history will help us become a truer church and therefore make us the body of Christ that can help heal the brokenness of our world.
Happy Juneteenth! America needs to celebrate it.