In his November 23rd column, David Brooks reflects on the Exodus narrative, and how its faded from American life. He writes that
The story of America…can be interpreted as a series of redemptions, of injury, suffering and healing fresh starts. Look at the mottos on our Great Seal: “A New Order for the Ages” and “Out of Many, One.” In the 18th century divisions between the colonists were partially healed. In the 19th century divisions between the free and enslaved were partially healed. In the 20th, America partially healed the divisions between democracy and totalitarianism. In the 21st, we have healing fresh starts still to come. The great sermon of redemption and reconciliation is Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. This is a speech of tremendous intellectual humility. None of us anticipated this conflict, or its magnitude. All of us “looked for an easier triumph.” None of us are fully in control. “Let us judge not that we be not judged.”
You can read the whole column by clicking on this link.
Our own Deacon Fred McGavran has also been thinking about America in terms of Exodus, and especially about John Winthrop’s Model of Christian Charity, which Winthrop preached on the deck of the Arabella before setting foot in Massachusetts. In directly echoes Moses’s speech at the borders of the Promised Land. Fred points out that Winthrop is often misquoted or misunderstood. We will only be a City on a Hill if we can find a way to take care of the least among us: the economically underprivileged, the refugee and migrant, people who face discrimination and are prevented from reaping the benefits bestowed by our society. You can read Fred’s annotated version below:
Annotated Model of Christian Charity
Aboard the Arabella: Arbella or Arabella was the flagship of the Winthrop Fleet on which Governor John Winthrop, other members of the Company (including Dr. William Gager), and Puritan emigrants transported themselves and the Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company from England to Salem between April 8 and June 12, 1630, thereby giving legal birth to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During this adventure, the ship is said to have carried three times as much alcohol as water. The charter recorded around 10,000 gallons of wine on board for the personal supply of the crew and its passengers, and they had consumed almost all of it in six weeks time.  John Winthrop is reputed to have given the famous “A Model of Christian Charity” sermon aboard the ship. Also on board was Anne Bradstreet, the first European female poet to be published from the New World, and her family.
The Winthrop Fleet was a group of 11 ships led by John Winthrop which carried about 1,000 Puritans plus livestock and provisions from England to New England over the summer of 1630, during the period of the Great Migration. From Wikkepedia.
Wee haue taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to drawe our own articles [King Charles I granted a charter to a group of investors. This was followed by the Cambridge Agreement later that year, in which a group of investors agreed to emigrate and work to buy out others who would not emigrate. The Massachusetts Bay Colony became the first English chartered colony whose board of governors did not reside in England.] Wee haue professed to enterprise [to carry out] these and those accounts [documents], upon these and those ends [limits]. Wee have hereupon besought Him of favour and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to heare us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath hee ratified this covenant and sealed our Commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if [Exodus 19:5-6: 5Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.] wee shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends wee have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnall [wordly] intentions, seeking greate things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely breake out in wrathe against us; be revenged of such a [sinful] people and make us knowe the price of the breache of such a covenant.
Now the onely way to avoyde this shipwracke, and to provide for our posterity, is to followe the counsell of Micah [Micah 6:8: He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?], to doe justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, wee must be knitt together, in this worke, as one man. Wee must entertaine each other in brotherly affection. Wee must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of other’s necessities. Wee must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekeness, gentlenes, patience and liberality. Wee must delight in eache other; make other’s conditions our oune; rejoice together, mourne together, labour and suffer together, allwayes haueving before our eyes our commission and community in the worke, as members of the same body. Soe shall wee keepe the unitie of the spirit in the bond of peace. [Ephesians 4:1-3: I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.] The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as his oune people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our wayes. Soe that wee shall see much more of his wisdome, power, goodness and truthe, than formerly wee haue been acquainted with. Wee shall finde that the God of Israell is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when hee shall make us a prayse and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “the Lord make it likely that of New England.”
For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill [Matthew 5:4: You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.] The eies of all people are uppon us. Soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our God in this worke wee haue undertaken, and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. Wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of God, and all professors for God’s sake. Wee shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into curses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whither wee are a goeing.
I shall shutt upp this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithfull servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israell, Deut. 30:15-18. Beloued there is now sett before us life and good, Death and evill, in that wee are commanded this day to loue the Lord our God, and to loue one another, to walke in his wayes and to keepe his Commandements and his Ordinance and his lawes, and the articles of our Covenant with him, that wee may liue and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may blesse us in the land whither wee goe to possesse it. But if our heartes shall turne away, soe that wee will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worshipp and serue other Gods, our pleasure and proffitts, and serue them; it is propounded unto us this day, wee shall surely perishe out of the good land whither wee passe over this vast sea to possesse it;
Therefore lett us choose life that wee, and our seede may liue, by obeyeing His voyce and cleaveing to Him, for Hee is our life and our prosperity.