Taylor Starks, Assistant Director of Spiritual Formation

Psalm 126 (NLT)
1 When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream!
2 We are filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
3 Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!
4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
5 Those who plant in tears
Will harvest with shouts of joy.
6 They weep as they go to plant their seed,
But they sing as they return with the harvest.

This Juneteenth we hold space to celebrate and rejoice in the face of tension and hostility. While General Order No. 3 did not excuse the pervasive exploitation and injustice experienced by Black slaves (or prevent it from continuing), it provided communities across the nation an opportunity to discover joy in a freedom that was wrongfully withheld for centuries. As the fight for freedom would present itself in different forms, this joy produced a persistent hope that would hold onto the promises of renewal and restoration. As we commemorate the significance of this time, we invite you to pray with us through Psalm 126 and celebrate the marvelous gifts of freedom and advancement toward a better future.

God of great works, we praise you for your sovereignty and powerful hand. When things feel impossible and despair overwhelms us, we trust that we can look to you with hope and thank you for your faithful presence.
With gratitude in our hearts, we lean into the gladness of renewed strength and vision. Thank you, Lord, for restoring our hope and reminding us of the joy found in a freedom that is meant to be experienced by all people. When others try to diminish our gratitude, we accept the invitation to be filled with an undeniable joy, expectantly pursuing the promise of liberty, and boldly claiming the victories you have given us. Free of shame or condemnation, we celebrate the progression of freedom throughout our communities and the continued restoration of what was stolen.

The work is heavy and plentiful. God of renewal, we ask that you would transform hearts and minds to acknowledge the worth and dignity of our brothers and sisters—the marginalized, oppressed and low in spirit. You have called us to pursue justice and to love without restraint. Help us, Lord, to embrace this call. Even as fear, shame and pride present themselves as faint opposition, may we find strength in your Name to pursue joy and strength for your people.



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