Lisa has always said that Independence Day was her favorite family holiday. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter are pretty wonderful, mind you, but are often be marked with a heaping helping of expectations. Demands and stress. Not so with The Fourth. No days of decorating and gift gathering. Hot dogs and watermelon are easier to assemble than the full fare of a Thanksgiving feast. And the kids will find shorts, flip flops, and an Old Navy T-shirt preferable to any springtime primp and pose.

As for our clan, we are off to Atlanta to join sixty thousand of our closest friends for the six point two miles of painful patriotism known as the Peachtree Road Race. For a decade and a half, that’s what we have done by the dawn’s early light. And post race recovery can only take place at The Nuevo Laredo Cantina. Later, the twilight’s last gleaming will fall on us and the Atlanta Braves, followed by some serious rocket’s red glare. And it’s all in the company of people we want to be with, and nobody we don’t. How good is that? Let freedom ring.

Freedom is the watchword of the day, as we all it should be. Freedom to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Freedom bought and paid for by the sacrifices of generations gone before us. Freedom to claim a sense of belonging in all that falls between sea and shining sea. Freedom born of a dream of a more perfect union where oppression is lifted, letting hope and possibility fill the day. This image in full, and it’s reality, at least in part, are hard to miss, even in these politically perilous times.

Sunday, we will gather for what is our second Fourth of July weekend. As we do, I will dance where angels fear to tread and share some “Cautious Confessions from a Patriotic Pastor.” Standing rightly between the American flag and the Cross of Christ is not as easy as it seems. It tests our true allegiance and the foundations of our faith. For all the raucous rhetoric these days, it’s a conversation few folks of faith are having. So I invite you to join us as we think on these things as both citizens of a great nation and a greater kingdom. See you there.