Juneteenth (June 19, 1865) -- The oldest known African-American celebration. On June 19, 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas, received word of their emancipation two months after the Civil War had ended, and two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect on January 1, 1863.
Scripture Lesson -- Psalm 78:1-72
Psalm 78 is a teaching psalm designed to teach children how gracious God has been in the past in spite of historical circumstances. If children would learn the lessons of history, they would not be destined to repeat it. Because it is long, I do not recommend that you use this entire Psalm for this one service. It is recommended that-- for this service --you focus on children and use Psalm 78:1-11, special exhortations on the instruction of children.
Maafa is a Kiswahili term used to describe the Black African holocaust, the disastrous 500 years of suffering inflicted on Africa and her people through slavery and exploitation. You will need to decide what music you will need in order for your choir or liturgical dancers to sing or dance The Maafa.
Choir Introit: "Spirit of the Living God," 393, United Methodist Hymnal
Call to Worship
The Lord our God is great.
The Lord is worthy of our praise.
Come; let us remember the great things God has done for us.
Let us not neglect to teach our children the greatness of God.
Let us not forget our past and those who have gone before us.
We remember our ancestors, our history, our Africa; and we name our future.
Let us lift up our voices in song, lift our arms in praise,
and open our hearts in gratitude.
Let us greet God with our hymn of praise.
Processional Hymn (with choir and dancers)
"We Are Marching in the Light of God" (Siyahamba), 2235, The Faith We Sing
Congregational Prayer (in unison)
Almighty God, we come to worship you today with open hearts and open minds. We want to hear and receive what you have to say to us in this service. Speak to us today as you spoke to those who went before us. Tell us the stories of your wonders and greatness. We are ready to hear them. Remind us once again of your grace and love. Help us teach your goodness to our children and the next generation. Amen.
The Lord's Prayer-- Liturgical Dancers
Praise and Worship
The Choir and Liturgical Dancers-- "The Maafa" (see worship notes)
Psalm 78:1-11, II Chronicles 7:14, or Isaiah 30:25-26
The Word Proclaimed
A Litany for Blessing our Children of Africa
(Children come forward and stand at the altar; parents and other adults surround them)
Leader: Running, jumping, falling, laughing, singing, dancing, climbing, our children are our joy.
All: Today, we are all children, gathered to praise and worship you, loving God.
Leader: Rolling, smiling, hugging, shouting, crying, cheering, painting, toddling, drawing, our children are our joy.
All: Today, we are all children of God, gathered to bless our children.
Leader: Short and tall, thin and thick, dark and light, bright and full of smiles, changing and growing, our children are our joy.
All: Today, we pause to let them know how much we love them. We pause to remind ourselves of our promises to them: to guard, guide, and defend them; to protect them from dangers seen and unseen; to live holy lives in front of them; to never stop trying to be spiritually alive members of the church and ambassadors for Christ everywhere we go.
Leader; let us all pray together:
Loving God, bless us that we may be a blessing to our children. Help us remember who we are and from where we have come. Help us remember the things you have done for us in the past so we can teach them to our children. May we give them hope and enthusiasm for the future. May we give them openness to your holy message of forgiveness, grace, and love. May they too want to walk in the paths of righteousness. May your word live in them and for generations to come. Hear this prayer we offer today. Amen.
Closing Hymn: "Kum ba Yah" ("Come by Here"), 494, United Methodist Hymnal
- Music Musing #145: Juneteenth
- "History of Juneteenth" from Juneteenth.com
- The Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863
- "The Civil War and Emancipation" from PBS' Africans in America series
- Spotlight Biography: The Civil War from Smithsonian Education (mentions end date of the Civil War under the biography for Robert E. Lee).
- Juneteenth Day Worship Resources from the African American Lectionary