In 1920, as much of the world was still trying to dig its way out from under the rubble of World War I, some struggled to recover optimism and hope. Irish poet William Yeats saw a new kingdom coming — but not a domain of hope.
The title of his poem was “The Second Coming.”
However, it was not about the coming of the Prince of Peace but of a terrifying monster of chaos:
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre the falcon cannot hear the falconer things fall apart ... the center cannot hold ... mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ...”
The reason the world was sweeping down into chaos was that the “center could not hold.”
Think of this in relation to what we know now about quantum mechanics, gravitational forces, and the physical world where everything depends on the strength of the core of cohesion. The spiritual reflects the reality of the physical — a world under the push and pull of relentless gravitational pressure must have a strong center — so must the spiritual world. Gravitational force requires strength at the center or everything is pulled into chaos. Thus Yeats wrote that when the strong force fails, “The center cannot hold.”
Colossians 1:13 shows that Christ is the spiritual center of the universe, and He holds all things in a state of peace and order. Remove the strong center and everything collapses, from our hearts and sanity to societies and the universe itself.
Yeats wrote his poem in times amazingly like ours — as crews still cleared away the war ruble, a flu pandemic swept the world ... and Yeats' Ireland was still suffering the wounds of its 1916 conflict with England. Riots and protests were everywhere.
The truth of Yeats' verse and the Scripture text from Colossians was valid for Yeats and remains true for us.
Jesus Christ is the creative word that brings space and time into being, and us in it. Christ is also the strong Word that brings coherence to the whole of creation, from the psychic to the material.
Christ is the defining word that gives every person identity and meaning.
As we dig deeper into Colossians 1, we see the amazing reality of the redemption that results in salvation and preservation in every epoch. And the Christ is the giver and upholder of it all.
Thus, keep Christ in Christmas or there will be no Christmas. And no civilization to produce and appreciate its beauty, inspiring hope, glorious music, and transforming story.
Wallace B. Henley is a former pastor, daily newspaper editor, White House and Congressional aide. He served 18 years as a teaching pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church. Henley is author or co-author of more than 25 books, including God and Churchill, co-authored with Sir Winston Churchill's great grandson, Jonathan Sandys. Henley's latest book is Who will rule the coming 'gods'? The looming spiritual crisis of artificial intelligence.