Friday, December 23, 2005

Christ and Christmas in Denmark

Church buildings are an important aspect of the landscape of Denmark. They are found everywhere in the large cities and in hundreds of small towns and villages. The churches of the Danish State church (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark) predominate. Increasingly, however, "free churches" of several denominations are to be seen as well and God is working through them in powerful ways. In spite of the country's large number of church buildings, it is a well-established fact that the number of Danish citizens who attend church regularly is pitifully small, some say as few as five to eight percent of the population. However, for many Danes church attendance on Christmas Eve is part of the country's time-honored Yuletide traditions and they will flock to the churches in great numbers. Sadly, these same people may not darken the door of a church at any other time throughout the year. Christmas should be a time to reinforce the meaning of the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the Gospel story that calls men and women to repentance and a living faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior. Reaffirmation of the virgin birth of Christ and His journey toward Calvary should be the supreme and overriding consideration of this period of celebration. The editor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church's email publication, Church News, has recently emphasized the importance of an overall biblical perspective on the birth of Christ in his literal translation of a hymn by the Danish poet N. F. S. Gruntvig:

In the midnight he was born,
sun's and moon's Creator.
He who owns the whole wide world
finds a stable only.
He who high above the skies
walks among the stars
now is put in swaddling clothes.
He will at the day of doom
speak with words of thunder!
Listen...hear a baby crying.

PRAY that the Spirit of God will breathe new life and vibrancy into Danish Christmas celebrations and the the people of this wonderful country will come to personal faith and trust in Christ and uncompromising commitment to Him.

PRAY that Danish preachers will be so overcome and empowered with the meaning of Christ's incarnation and Saviorhood that Christmas services will be transformed into powerful evangelistic proclamations of the truth of the Gospel.

PRAY that influences that have contributed to deadening secularization in Denmark will be routed and that Christ the Savior born in Bethlehem's manger and crucified on Calvary's cross will have primacy in the country's life and culture.

To all who join with us in prayer on behalf of evangelism, revival/renewal, and church planting in Denmark, we wish you a Joyous and Christ-honoring celebration of the birth of Christ and a New Year filled with God's extravagant grace and blessings. Let us continue to pray fervently for the working of God's Spirit in awakening the Danish people to the claims of Jesus Christ on their lives. Glædelig Jul og Godt Nytår!

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