St Andrew's Parish Church Inverurie

St Andrew's Parish Church Inverurie

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Carl's Monthly Message 

Our Minister’s Letter

Dear Friends

I have always had an enquiring mind; whenever I come across something new, or something I don’t understand, I have to find out about it. Today’s internet age is perfect for my curiosity but I well remember, as a boy, spending hours looking for information I can now find in seconds. So, when I came across a new word, ‘Juneteenth’, the other day, I just had to find out more.

Juneteenth is a contraction of June 19th, and is the newest national holiday in the U.S.A. It is also known as ‘Freedom Day’ or ‘Emancipation Day’, names which much better reflect what the holiday is all about: celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln decreed the end of slavery in areas controlled by the North. As the Union forces gradually gained control over the South, slaves there were also freed. The Civil War ended on 26th May 1865 and, less than a month later, on 19th June, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to complete the emancipation of all slaves in the U.S.A.

Although slavery ended in 1865, the scourge of racial prejudice survived and the Juneteenth Holiday is one part of the struggle against this evil, first becoming a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and gradually spreading to all but one state. Finally, in June 2021 President Biden signed a law to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

Having discovered all this, my curiosity was satisfied. Still, I can’t help looking at the development of Juneteenth through the eyes of faith. The Bible tells us that, uniquely, humanity, was created in God’s image. Exactly what being created in God’s image means is so complex, books have been written about it, so I’m not going into that here, the important point is that all of humankind has been created in God’s image, so whatever we do to each other, we do to an image bearer of God. To use Jesus’ words,

‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of My family, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

The practice of slavery was, and still is, a huge stain on our collective conscience. Yet, by sinning, people willingly enslave themselves every day! Jesus said,

‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.’ (John 8:34)

The slavery of sin is so great, that Jesus surrendered His life to provide us with the only way out, as Paul wrote,

‘For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.’ (Galatians 5:1)

Juneteenth is a not a holiday here in Scotland, but the end of any form of slavery should be a cause for celebration everywhere.

Many blessings,

Carl

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