The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 declared slaves free in any state in rebellion against the United States. However, slavery continued in the Confederacy until the end of the Civil War. It was not until June 19, 1865, that the last of the slaves were freed in Texas. While freedom from slavery had been proclaimed two years earlier, it was not realized until 1865. Juneteenth, as it is called, is a celebration of the last of the African American slaves to be freed in the United States. While Juneteenth has a special meaning for African Americans, it is a celebration that should be acknowledged by all Americans, commemorating a moment when the nation moved closer to the ideal of "liberty for all" it had claimed at its founding... a move closer on a journey that continues.
The history of Juneteenth brings to mind the fact that, just as there were slaves living in bondage even after the end of the Civil War who were unaware that they had been freed, there are people who are unaware of the liberty won on the cross by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They are unaware of the grace of the atoning death of Christ and the power of the Resurrection of Christ... that freedom from bondage to sin has been won, but must be applied to their lives by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Let us reaffirm our strong commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Grace that sets the captives free.