Do not deny justice and compassion to immigrants; do not oppress the poor. Remember you were once enslaved and oppressed by your self-destructive loops, and Love liberated you. – Deuteronomy 24: 17-18

On the eve of January 1, 1863, a night known as “Freedom’s Eve,” enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and homes nationwide, waiting for the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect. As midnight struck, their prayers were answered—enslaved people in the Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, carried small copies of the proclamation, marching onto plantations and through cities to spread the news of freedom.

Yet, freedom was not immediate for all. The proclamation’s power could not reach Confederate territories under their control. In Texas, the westernmost Confederate state, the news of liberation did not arrive until June 19, 1865, when 2,000 Union troops landed in Galveston Bay and announced the freedom of over 250,000 enslaved black people. Juneteenth marks a profound moment of liberation for those who had endured so much.

Juneteenth, often celebrated as our country’s second Independence Day, is a testament to the enduring spirit of liberation. It symbolizes the relentless pursuit of freedom for African Americans and all who seek to break the chains of oppression. This day is a beacon of hope, reflecting black and brown communities’ profound struggle and resilience and echoing the cries for justice and equality that resonate globally.

In the theology of No Reservations, we understand God as Possibility, a divine force urging us towards our most authentic selves. Juneteenth embodies this theology, showcasing the boundless possibilities that arise when people dare to dream of a world free from tyranny. It is a celebration of authenticity, of individuals reclaiming their God-given dignity and identity in the face of systemic dehumanization.

Reconstruction, the period following emancipation, was an era of hope, uncertainty, and struggle. Formerly enslaved individuals sought to reunite families, build schools, and participate in political life. Their efforts, only a generation out of slavery, were nothing short of miraculous, considering the continued oppression that they faced at the hands of Southern racism and aggression. They envisioned a future where freedom was not just a decree, but a lived reality.

Juneteenth reminds us that the journey toward liberation is ongoing. It calls us to remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice and to support those who are still bound by modern-day forms of slavery and oppression. As we celebrate this historic day, we honor the resilience of our ancestors and commit to continuing their work.

The words “Liberation Today, Liberation Tomorrow, Liberation Forever” are a rallying cry transcending time and place. It is a call to action, urging us to awaken to our authentic selves and to stand in solidarity with all who seek freedom. At No Reservations, we believe in taking the risk to be true to ourselves, to embrace the divine possibility within us, and to work tirelessly for a world where liberation is a reality for all.

Juneteenth is not just a commemoration of past victories but a reminder of the work ahead. It is a day to celebrate progress and renew our commitment to the fight for justice. As we gather in fellowship and reflection, let the spirit of Juneteenth inspire us to envision a world where every person can live authentically and freely.

In this spirit, we affirm that liberation is not just a moment in history but an ongoing journey. May we walk this path with courage, compassion, and unwavering hope. Liberation Today, Liberation Tomorrow, Liberation Forever.

So, say we all, Amen. 

Rev. Harold Marrero

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