Week of October 31

Dr. Todd B. Jones

My Dear Friends,

As the election season comes to an end, we pause once again to reflect upon the blessings of a society that permits the free exercise of speech among its citizenry and enfranchises its people with the right to vote. This is no small blessing, and I often marvel at how matter of factly we ponder every four years the possibility of the orderly transfer of power at the very highest levels of our government. As I write this letter, the presidential race is too close to call, and the outcome remains very much in question. The right to vote and to voice support and opposition for political candidates continues to be one of the foundational principles of freedom in our land. The free exchange of ideas in the public arena is a sign of strength in a free society and reason for all of us to give thanks.

Historically, freedom is an idea that appears powerfully in the Bible, where Israel’s God is seen as the author of freedom. The story of the call of Moses to liberate his own people from bondage in Egypt into liberty is one of the foundational stories of all of Scripture. Moses is commanded by God to go before Pharoah and to speak truth to power, to say to the world’s most powerful ruler, “Let my people go.” God said to Moses, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of the land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” God empowered Moses to lead a band of slaves to freedom. Bruce Feiler, in his book on Moses says, “Wherever freedom is voiced, it is always spoken with a Hebrew accent.” Exodus is a text that speaks to the entire human family of liberation and law, of the longing for freedom and justice. In the New Testament, Paul could say to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to any yoke of slavery. ”The roots of our nation’s commitment to a free society can be traced to many sources, but none are any more important than the Bible and the Word of God that it proclaims. 

The history of our country tells an often-painful story of how we finally learned to hear this word of freedom as a word to all of our citizens. The long, slow struggle toward the abolishment of slavery and the Civil Rights movement brought a new birth of freedom to our land and purged us painfully of many of our national sins. But even in our worst moments, we learned and grew as a people, and while we remain far from perfect, the rule of law, the preservation of individual freedoms and the liberty of conscience and speech and press that we enjoy make us a place where people who love freedom want to live.

So as some proclaim that they are weary of politics and glad that another election season has passed, I for one am grateful that we are a nation that listens to voices of its citizens and that opposing ideas and candidates are free to vie for the support and commitment of the people. I have marveled once again at how our democracy works, and I trust that you will pause to thank God for this nation that de Toqueville called “the American Experiment.” I trust that you treasure more than ever the right to vote and to participate in the election of our leaders. George Washington believed that we lived “In the hands of a Good Providence.” He saw the vital connection between our freedom and the God who is author of all freedom.

“Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing; Long may our land be bright With freedom’s holy light; Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.”

With Love and Prayers,

Todd Jones

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