Romans 8 sharpens my eyes to see more clearly a hope I cannot see on my
own. Paul has a way of encouraging me to peek over his shoulder. He
shares his spectacles of faith so that I can see with him—through the
immediate, into a wide-open country of all living hope.
The Fourth of July is certainly not a church holiday, but it is an opportunity for the church and the preacher to reflect on the history of the republic, the extraordinary group of leaders who gathered in Philadelphia to declare independence and their remarkable conclusion that at the heart of the American revolution would be individual liberty and freedom of conscience.
Preachers have often imagined an anguished Abraham staggering toward
Moriah as he leads his son to his death. But the biblical account
contains no anguish, no heated arguments with Sarah (“Yahweh told you what?”),
no teetering on the edge of faith.
James Fenimore Cooper Jr. and Margaret Bendroth are rummaging through church attics and basements in the New England states, especially Massachusetts, looking for records of early American life. Some churches are reticent to part with old documents, but the two historians point out how vulnerable the documents are and offer to keep them in a climate-controlled rare book room at the Congregational Library in Boston. Among their findings: a church in Middleboro possessed an application for membership submitted in 1773 by a slave (New York Times, July 29).