Monday, November 7, 2016

A Patriotic Thanksgiving

Lincoln, in his Gettysburg address, declared in America we enjoy government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”  More than simply a well-balanced phrase or a politician’s applause line, this is truly a reason for us to give thanks in the fall of 2016.

I need to be clear.  I am writing this well before the election so this is not a statement on who was or was not elected president.  Rather, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is a reflection on our system of governance.  Paul said government is ordained by God for specific purposes, but not all systems of governance are the same.   What's so special about ours?  For what can we be grateful?  Here are just a few of my thoughts.  (Feel free to add your own in the comments section.)

  1. We can be grateful for the orderly transfer of power.  Power is transferred from one leader to another by ballots, not guns.
  2. We can be grateful for the opportunity to participate in the selection of our local, state and national leaders. People are not born president, congressman or mayor because of lineage or by divine right.  They are our leaders because we choose to elect them.
  3. We can be grateful for the freedom to share our thoughts and feelings without fear of recrimination or incarceration.  This freedom, along with several others, is clearly delineated in the first amendment to our constitution.  These are freedoms Baptist leaders in the early days of our government fought to secure and I'm glad, aren't you.  We may not like all the things that are said and grow weary of the “politicking” but none of us would trade it for the repressive atmosphere of other governments where to disagree with a leader could land you in prison…or worse.
  4. We can be grateful for the knowledge that no one person or branch of government has all the power. The president has power to be sure, but not all the power.  Our government is held in check (okay, sometimes gridlock) by a system of checks and balances, but isn’t that better than allowing one person or branch of government free reign to do whatever they please?
This Thanksgiving season I will be thankful for the usual things:  my family, my health, my church, the folks I serve with daily in UBA.   Given all the political tumult this year, though, I think I'll also be grateful to be an American and to live under the system of government we enjoy.  Like family, our government may not be perfect, but I love it and I'm grateful for it.

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