When you were a kid, did you ever play with a gyroscope? You gave it a twirl and it seemed to spin forever. The world is like a gyroscope. At the dawn of creation, God gave the earth a twirl and it has been spinning ever since. But everybody knows what inevitably happens toward the end of a gyroscope’s seemingly eternal rotations: It slows down and begins to wobble. Its path becomes erratic. If nothing is done about it, the gyroscope will eventually spin out of control, topple, and stop.
Some people believe that is why Jesus came to us the first time: to give the gyroscope of life another twirl and set us straight on our path.
Many people, religious and not, believe the world is beginning to spin out of control again. They see signs that the end of the journey is drawing near in the way we are behaving in a series of incidences crammed into small segments of time: terror in Paris; beheadings of Coptic Christians by ISIS on a pristine beach in Libya. Many people, including me, let out a sigh of relief that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade went off without a terrorist incident. Recently there was a killing spree at a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs.
Some Christians believe that is why Christ will come again. Scripture tells us that before the coming of the Messiah there will be signs of distress. Life tells us that before we are willing to practice new behavior, we must “bottom-out” on old behavior.
The Advent season begins with a warning and a wake-up call to change before it is too late. We will soon get to the alleluias of Christmas. But first we have to drop our pepper spray. We have to be willing to stop elbowing people out of our way. We have to work a little harder on getting our priorities right. Even in the midst of fear, foreboding, loneliness and discouragement ~ hope springs eternal!
Even in the midst of strife we can find Advent flames of hope, love, joy and peace.
Dwight Lee Wolter is pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. He is the author of several books and blogs at dwightleewolter.com.