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.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a French Catholic, says that if you don’t show up early for mass at his parish in Paris, you might have to sit on folding chairs in a spillover space or even sit on the floor. There’s nothing unusual about his parish priest, although he does have Pope Francis’s spirit of generosity. Gobry’s parish is like other urban areas in France. Despite the country’s reputation for secularism, Gobry thinks the French church may be on the verge of a time of renewal (The Week, January 15).