On June 19, 1865, the Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended. Gen. Gordon Granger’s first order of business was to read to the people of Texas, who were still not in compliance with President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, General Order Number 3, which read, “The People of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
Historians report that this was met with responses ranging from pure shock to instant celebration. And though the new freed men and women settled in sometimes far-ranging places, they would remember affectionately “Juneteenth” with happy festivities and prayer services.
Many people throughout history have prayed deeply for the freedom of others. In the late 1800s, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote: “Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free. Paul said, ‘I was free born.’ All men should be free. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ ” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 227).
We can celebrate Juneteenth Independence Day with an inspired understanding of the God-given freedom we are each born with, because we all, in truth, are born of God – “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:17).
As Mrs. Eddy wrote: “Whatever enslaves man is opposed to the divine government. Truth makes man free” (Science and Health, p. 225).
The truth that Christ Jesus preached and Mrs. Eddy wrote about is that each of us is loved of God. God, who is Spirit, made us in His likeness, and that likeness is spiritual – in fact, the very idea or image of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27). An idea of God cannot truly be oppressed. Anything opposed to the joy, intelligence, and creativity that come from God has no legitimate power and cannot touch our legitimate state of being.
It is our divine right, then, to be free from whatever may be enslaving us – sickness, addiction, debt, anxiety – and to live fully without incumbrance. Mentally insisting on the fact that God, impartial Love, is governing us, shows us more clearly our freedom that is God-bestowed, and makes this liberty more evident in our lives.
Celebrating this way, with grateful hearts for the progress already made, we let freedom ring out her glorious message and fill us all with hope and inspiration. Let us pray today and every day that each member of our global family can become increasingly aware of his or her freedom as the beautiful, whole, loved, cared for expression of God.