The Shining City Upon a Hill

The Shining City Upon a Hill

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

By Robert Scott

In thinking about what to write for the Christmas issue of The Edgefield Advertiser, I decided to rerun a column from my first year as an OpEd writer, the year 2014. Here it is, with only slight changes to update it. It is as applicable today as it was following the midterm elections eight years ago.

This Christmas season as in every Christmas season, we will be reminded of the two nativity stories in the New Testament: Luke:2, with its description of the birth of Christ in a manger in Bethlehem, and Matthew:2, with the visit of the Wise Men. The essence of the teachings of Jesus are found just a few chapters later: in the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew:5. With the possible exception of John 3:16, Matthew:5 is probably the most quoted chapter in the Bible. More than any other single chapter, Matthew:5 answers the questions: what would Jesus do, and what would He have us do?

In Matthew:5, Jesus sets aspirational goals for all of us. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

John Winthrop, one of the Pilgrim founding fathers, paraphrased this in describing his vision for America: “For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”

Our Presidents and presidential candidates have often cited John Winthrop’s vision in describing the mission of our United States. Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address, said this: “’I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

Our country’s quest to become an exemplar for all nations includes the four callings I have written about before: feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, welcoming the stranger, and becoming better stewards of our fragile home here on earth. Although they do not come up during political seasons such as the one just passed, these arecore values of our religion as well as of our nation. This Christmas Season, and in the coming years of 2023 and 2024, let each of us look at ourselves and see what we can do, as citizens of Edgefield County and of our state, nation, and world, to live up to that vision. “What would Jesus have us do” must be more than a bumper sticker. It must be a light that is never hidden under a bushel but raised for all to see, one that inspires us to have America truly to become that Shining City on a Hill.

Merry Christmas, one and all!