Friday, December 17, 2010

The Meaning of Christmas Largely Forgotten in Denmark

From a purely worldly and cultural standpoint, Christmas in Denmark has many wonderful and inviting traditions. This is not the place to write of how Danes celebrate Christmas, but if the reader is unfamiliar with these customs the following websites offer a fine overview. Check them out at:

What is rather depressing in these descriptions of Christmas customs in Denmark is the absence of reference to Juletjenester (Christmas services) in the churches, save for one line in one of them, “… some families go to church in the afternoon [i.e., Christmas Eve] to hear the Christmas Gospel about the birth of Jesus,” a statement that says much of where Denmark is spiritually. It is likely there will be more Danes attending church services on Christmas Eve than usual, upping the percentage somewhat from average Danish church attendance reputed to be only about 2-3 percent of the population. But, the truth is the vast majority of Danes will not “hear the Christmas Gospel about the birth of Jesus” because they will not be there to hear it.

Most Danes possess a secular mentality. They will celebrate a jolly and tradition-filled Christmas with little or no thought of Jesus Christ, who he is and why he came to earth taking on himself human flesh. The Apostle Paul tells us why Christ came: "God our Savior . . . wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:3-6, NIV). Or, as John 3:16 affirms so clearly, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

One couple ( who sense a call to minister the gospel in Denmark and have a good grasp and accurate assessment of where Denmark is spiritually write on their webpage: “Today, the Word of Truth (Eph 1:13) has lost its voice in the land of Denmark. The generations that once knew God have passed away, leaving a generation that is postmodern, post-Christian, and unaware of the Gospel. The place that at one time revived the heartbeat of missions has indeed hardened its own heart toward God.” Denmark needs to be reevangelized and the gospel made clear by every means possible to everyone throughout the country.

Having said that of the land and secularized culture as a whole where the Word of Truth has lost its voice, we do need nevertheless to recognize that there are numbers of born-again believers in Denmark found in both Folkekirke and free churches. While they comprise only a miniscule percentage of the Danish population and while we may not agree in every aspect with many of them theologically, God thankfully has not left himself without a witness in this dejlig (lovely, beautiful) land. We continue to ask God to bring revival to his people in Denmark and to give new breath and voice to evangelism and church planting. For that to happen, the Word of Truth must be given voice as never before so that every Dane has an opportunity come to faith in Christ, the One born in a manger, put to death on a cruel cross, and arose from the dead. God loves the Danish people and so do we!

PRAY that Danes’ love of family and the cozy hygge of Christmas customs will not stand in the way of understanding it is Christ and Christ alone through his birth and ultimate death and resurrection who is the central focus of this Season.

PRAY that at this Christmas season there will be many spiritually hungry Danes who will realize their need of a Savior and turn to him in repentance and faith to own him as Lord of their lives.

PRAY that Danish born-again believers will be empowered during the Season to give a clear and bold witness to their friends and neighbors of their commitment to Christ and trust in his finished work of redemption.

To all friends of Pray for Denmark,

We wish for you a Blessed Christmas and a Spiritually Prosperous New Year.