Remember that childhood rhyme? “Every party needs a pooper, that’s why we invited you—party pooper, party pooper!” I certainly don’t want to rain on Wall Street’s parade and become the party pooper nobody wants. But in the midst of the hoopla over the Dow Jones industrial average’s new all-time high on Tuesday (14,253.77), could it be a bit premature to be singing, “Happy days are here again!”? George Friedman, founder and chairman of Stratfor (an intelligence service for those who can afford its fees) and editor of the eLetter “Geopolitical Weekly” (www.stratfor.com for free subscription), made this observation in his eLetter also this Tuesday: “The global financial crisis of 2008 has slowly yielded to a global unemployment crisis. This unemployment crisis will, fairly quickly, give way to a political crisis. The crisis involves all three of the major pillars of the global system—Europe, China and the United States. The level of intensity differs, the political response differs and the relationship to the financial crisis differs. But there is a common element, which is that unemployment is increasingly replacing finance as the central problem of the financial system” (http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/europe-unemployment-and-instability). Friedman’s piece is a sobering reminder that when it comes to economic realities on this planet, it seems that no sooner do we extricate ourselves from one crisis then we find ourselves collapsing into another. Take the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement also on Tuesday this week. According to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, health care scientists and officials are now tracking a new lethal “superbug” called CRE (Frieden calls it a “nightmare bacteria”) that is resistant to nearly all antibiotics and “kills up to half the patients who become infected” (South Bend Tribune 3-6-13). Frieden announced, “It’s not often that our scientists come to me to say that we have a very serious problem and we need to sound an alarm. But that’s exactly what we’re doing today.” Particularly vulnerable are patients in long-term care units in hospitals and nursing homes. Party pooper? No. Just the chronicle of the reality of life on this planet. Of course we still celebrate our joys—sunshine and blue sky above a snow-clad landscape, the love of family and friends, the joy of study and work, the laughter of play—we have abundant reasons to thank God for life and health today. But neither are we ostriches—and hiding our heads in the sand won’t make it go away. And so, as Jesus admonished His followers living the near edge of time, “Watch and pray” (Luke 21:36). Which the faithful are doing at the Vatican as they await the selection of their new spiritual leader. “Watch and pray.” Which the faithful in North Korea and Syria and Pakistan are doing as they try to correlate the threat of daily life with expectant hope. “Watch and pray.” Because 1 Thessalonians 5 isn’t about party poopers, but rather a vigilant faith community (“children of light” amidst the “darkness”) that recognizes that overnight the tables can turn: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord [the return of Christ] so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ [“Happy days are here again!”], then sudden destruction comes upon them . . . and they shall not escape” (v 2, 3). Party poopers? Not unless, of course, the party needs to poop out in exchange for a new realism that is vibrant with hope and the deepening conviction it is high time to live out the Christ life while such living can make a difference in this world. If that’s the case, then party poopers let us be!