Next week has one of, if not the most festive days in our nation. July 4th, Independence Day will see small town parades, backyard barbecues, patriotic speeches and spectacular fireworks. All these events are in memory of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the British colonies which would come to be known to the United States of America.
This event occurred more than two hundred years ago. On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation citing that as of January 1, 1863 all slaves were free in areas encompassed by the Union or occupied by the Union Army. Yet the news didn’t reach Texas until June 19, 1863. Thus all over Texas, Black Americans celebrate Juneteenth, a commemorative festival marking the day they received the announcement of freedom.
In fact, Juneteenth is a state holiday in Texas. Liberational festivals are an important part of a people’s heritage. Be it Martin Luther King’s birthday, VE Day or VJ Day, we need festivals to help us to celebrate and commemorate significant acts of liberation and freedom. In Exodus 12, the Lord instructs Moses to institute a commemorative celebration of His delivering them from the bondage of Egypt. The event would be the passing over of the Israelites as the Lord brought death to the firstborn of Egypt. The memorial was appropriately named the Passover celebration.
The celebration was to extend throughout the generations of Jewish history and is still celebrated today. In fact, the Christian remembrance of the Lord ‘s Supper was instituted by Christ during the Jewish Passover. In both cases, God shows us the importance of instituting a perpetual memory of His acts of salvation in the lives of His people.
The Lord told the Israelites to observe the Passover al a “lasting ordinance for you and your descendants.” What does this tell us about the place of tradition in our lives and Its value for succeeding generations?
It’s never too early to plan for the future. Having studied the value of tradItion, especially religious tradition, think of how you can begin a commemorative celebration for yourself and your family. You can enhance an old festival (Independence Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, King’s birthday), making the date particularly special to your family and descendants.
(Originally Printed: July 3, 1988, Direction)