Fuller

June 18, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture—Mark 5:9 (NASB)

And he was asking him, “What is your name?” and he said to [Jesus], “My name is Legion; for we are many.”

Focus

As I pause to consider the history of Juneteenth, I think about the liberation that Jesus preached as he healed individuals. He never was just about freeing and healing one person. Jesus was always about restoring that person or people group back into the society that had marginalized them. As I consider the history of the sin of systemic racism in the United States, the enslavement of generations has been the work of a legion of systems that have kept our African American siblings from flourishing in society, to say the least.

Devotion

Today marks Juneteenth, the longest-running African American holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. A full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, federal troops came into Galveston, Texas in 1865 to ensure that all enslaved people would be free. Two and a half years. Free but the news had not reached them.

As I think about the cosmic power of sin, I am reminded that sin does not consist only of individual actions and behaviors that affect one person or another. Rather, sin is also collectivistic in nature and affects whole communities, families, and systems in society. In fact, the cosmic power of sin has affected a legion of systems as a consequence of the curse in the fall in Genesis 3. One needs not stay in the Genesis narrative longer than a skip and a hop before we see the brokenness infect us. Since then, we have needed redemption and reconciliation between us and God and one another.

As I pause to consider the history of Juneteenth, I think about the liberation that Jesus preached as he healed individuals. He never was just about freeing and healing one person. Jesus was always about restoring that person or people group back into the society that had marginalized them. As I consider the history of the sin of systemic racism in the United States, the enslavement of generations has been the work of a legion of systems that have kept our African American siblings from flourishing in society, to say the least.

In one swift action and with the power of his voice, Jesus sends Legion back down into the pit of hell through a herd of swine. I cannot imagine having been set free in 1865 and yet unbeknownst to them, our African American family of God is still shackled by Legion. As we pause and consider Juneteenth, may Jesus give us eyes to see and ears to hear a holistic redemption, in all the places where we work and worship. How might interlocking systems of Legion affect the flourishing of all peoples? What does the gospel have to say about this? Why did the prophets protest against injustice? Thank God that Legion does not have the last word and yet it requires our participation in a holistic liberation, today and always.

Reflect

Have you ever thought about Legion as systems that keep the world and communities as broken?

Act

Think about the ethics of love, justice and mercy as central to the gospel of Jesus. What is a place in your workplace or community where Legion/systems keep people from flourishing? What is the Spirit inviting you into?

Pray

We pray to the God who frees us from Legion. Open our eyes that your redemption would reach, through us, the many aspects of society where your freedom and liberation is needed. Jesus, right the historical wrongs around us. May you restore, through our participation, the places that keep the children of God from the love, life and joy of Jesus.Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: Leave Us Alone!


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One thought on “Juneteenth

  1. RJ says:

    ‘Juneteenth’ is really a misplaced and misunderstood event as it didn’t create any liberties that didn’t already exist; (that something is ‘unknown’ or unpracticed isn’t evidence of non-existence). The Emancipation Proclamation under which the Texas slaves and others were freed applied only to belligerent states that took part in the ‘War Between the States.’ Slavery wasn’t abolished in the U.S. until December 6th, 1865 when the 13th Amendment was ratified. During the intervening months between those two events, Delaware and Kentucky were still practicing slaveholding states and showed no signs of giving it up voluntarily.

    The real, applicable purpose of ‘Juneteenth’ is to ‘pick the scab’ of whatever healing might take place between the races in this nation and to support the assertion of continued ‘systemic racism’ as is evidenced in this ‘devotion.’ When the clergy plays into this game it is to the detriment of both unity and the church as well as blacks. As John McWhorter has written, “But if the mantra is that what we need to do to solve black America’s problems is ‘get rid of systemic racism,’ we’re in trouble. That analysis, be it explicit or tacit, is based on a third-grader’s understanding of how a society works. More importantly, that analysis does not help black people and often hurts us.” (John McWhorter, ‘Can we please ditch the term “systemic racism”‘?

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