President Biden said yesterday that he hopes to decide soon whether to support a temporary pause in the federal gasoline tax to offset skyrocketing gasoline prices. However, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said, “I’m no fan of the gas tax holiday. I think that’s kind of a gimmick, and eventually you have to reverse it.”
Only 2 percent of Americans trust the federal government to do what is right “just about always.” Another 19 percent trust the government “most of the time.” In 1958, by contrast, about three-quarters of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing almost always or most of the time.
In other political news, Israel will be entering its fifth election in three and a half years after the Knesset (their parliament) voted to dissolve the government. Only 21 percent of Israelis say they trust the Knesset.
Why today is not the “longest day of the year”
Summer begins today. Said more precisely, the “astronomical summer” begins in the Northern Hemisphere at 5:14 am EDT. This event marks the 2022 summer solstice as well. People call today “the longest day of the year,” but that’s of course incorrect since every day has twenty-four hours. Actually, it’s the day with the most daylight.
This is also a good time to see our solar system on display. According to National Geographic, we can view Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn with the naked eye. Neptune and Uranus are up there as well, though we’ll need binoculars to spot them.
As I was walking early one morning, I happened to see Venus in close proximity to the Moon. The thought occurred to me: no one simply observing the night sky would think that the small dot of light that is Venus is larger than the Moon. In fact, Venus is more than three times larger in diameter than our Moon.
A little more perspective: our Sun is only one of about one hundred thousand million stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is only one of an estimated two trillion galaxies in our observable universe.
And the God who made you and me made all of that (Revelation 4:11) and measures it with the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12).
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful”
I make this point to reinforce the theme we’re following this week: it is always too soon to give up on God. No matter how much we distrust our government or grieve for the direction of our culture, the King of the universe is still on his throne.
Post-Christian secularists can reject his word and deny his existence, but he loves them unconditionally: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). He will similarly empower you and me to love others whether they love us or not.
In How to Bless God by Blessing Others, Dr. Ryan Denison describes God’s unconditional love in a very insightful way. He notes that the Greco-Roman religions pictured gods who blessed humans so humans would bless and honor them. Each was in a transactional relationship with the other.
By contrast, God blessed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Genesis 1:28) while knowing that humans would fail to reciprocate his love. Ryan writes: “If he wanted creatures devoid of free will who would simply do his bidding, that’s what he would have created. Instead, he wanted human beings who could choose to love him in the same way that he chose to love us and, through that free will, partner with him in caring for the rest of his creation. That same basic principle is also what guided his decision to offer us the chance to join him in blessing other people.”
When “the life of the nation is secure”
King David knew personally this truth: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Psalm 33:12). Blessing our nation by speaking biblical truth with biblical hope is a gift our nation has always needed, but never more than today.
On this day in 1778, New Hampshire became the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the US Constitution, making the document the law of the land. Two years earlier, on June 21, 1776, while serving in the Second Continental Congress which would soon pass the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote to a cousin who was also a Christian clergyman: “Statesmen, my dear sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.”
Twenty-four years later, as president of the nation he helped create, Adams delivered the first-ever in-person presidential address in the not-yet-finished home of the US Congress. After congratulating the American people for building the Capitol itself, he stated, “It would be unbecoming the representatives of this nation to assemble for the first time in this solemn temple without looking up to the Supreme Ruler of the universe and imploring his blessing.”
Frederick Douglass, the African-American abolitionist whose influence on President Lincoln and the divided American nation was so profound, agreed with Adams: “The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.”
“The true word of his holy story”
Frederick Buechner writes in A Room Called Remember: “We have it in us to be Christs to each other and maybe in some unimaginable way to God too—that’s what we have to tell finally. We have it in us to work miracles of love and healing as well as to have them worked upon us. We have it in us to bless with him and forgive with him and heal with him and once in a while maybe even to grieve with some measure of his grief at another’s pain and to rejoice with some measure of his rejoicing at another’s joy almost as if it were our own.”
As a result, Buechner notes, “It is our business (not like so many peddlers of God’s word but as men and women of sincerity) to speak with our hearts (which is what sincerity means) and to bear witness to, and live out of, and live toward, and live by, the true word of his holy story as it seeks to stammer itself forth through the holy stories of us all.”
How will you “bear witness” to “the true word of his holy story” today?
NOTE: For more on being the presence of Christ today, please see my latest blog, “If rabbits could google.”