As we celebrate God's pouring of grace upon this great country, we are reminded by this Day of Thanksgiving of the great potential for the United States to be the great "city on a hill" that has been cited by so many since the colonial days. That first Thanksgiving with the Plymouth pilgrims and native Americans was an incredible and prophetic example of what America is called to be. Just think of what could have been if the humble thankfulness of the pilgrims and the generous hearts of the native Americans had become the normal pattern for the social development of this new experiment in human experience! What a shining light there would have been for all to see!
Of course, America has at different times dared to approach God's call to be a land of hope and promise like no other in the history of the world. So, at times and in places it has shone forth as a lighthouse for freedom and opportunity. But, oh, what could have been! Think about the opportunity this great nation had after it had enjoyed God's providence in throwing off the yoke of English tyranny, as the founders wrestled with writing a guiding constitution for a new and different kind of republic. They as much as any up until their time knew the value and worth of every human individual in the sight of an Almighty and merciful God, yet they blinked when facing the issue of slavery. What if they had applied the full force of all the "self-evident" truths, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." What could have been!
Again, God has given our great country opportunity after opportunity to be the great "city on a hill." In the rise of the evangelical Awakenings, in the great economic power of capitalism, in the challenges of expansion and world wars, America has always had a call from God to be different and shining in how we handle things. In many ways we have been that shining light, and in many ways we have missed it. However, it is clear that America is at its best and most likely to fulfill its God-ordained potential when it clearly and humbly submits itself as a people to God through its governance, institutions, families, and individuals. We miss the mark the most when we stray from attributing our blessings and giftedness to God.
This Thanksgiving Day 2009 we are again poised as a nation to choose to fulfill God's great call for our country by humbly pointing to God as the One who gives us what we have, makes us who we are, and guides us to what we can be. Again, there are those voices that point us away from our Creator and claim that we are on our own as a nation, that we must fight each other for our rights, and that our destiny is no more special or unique than any other people or nation. But think of what can be! Think of the opportunity we have again to follow God's call and become a shining beacon of hope and promise for all through this world.
If we will acknowledge God as the source for our freedom and the Giver of our rights, we can be a model for all the world as a nation that is blessed and guided by God. We can still be that shining "city on a hill" for all to see.