Sunday, December 08, 2013

A Christmas Challenge

For years, special Christmas magazines have been a popular tradition in Denmark. Often they have included quaint short stories, articles, recipes, or a variety of lighthearted features on holiday cheer. They’re almost as much a part of the holiday tradition in Denmark as a favorite Christmas television special.

So this year Udfordringen (The Challenge), a Christian news and outreach publication, is once again producing its own 32-page holiday outreach issue, called Julens Udfordring (The Challenge of Christmas). Priced at 5 Danish kroner apiece (less than a dollar), it’s designed to be passed along to friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

But… a printed magazine? In an age of online communications, the old-school format seems like a bit of a throwback. But Julens Udfordring will feature plenty of pop culture references and articles, from The Hobbit motion picture to TV personalities. Hillsong’s Copenhagen fellowship (a recent church plant aimed at Internationals that promotes lively, contemporary worship) is also included. And according to the publishers, every article in this issue is designed to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

That’s a challenge in a country where Christmas is the highlight of a long winter, where Christmas traditions are taken very seriously and held very dearly. Danes are specialists in this holiday. It’s also a time of year when many Danes who would otherwise never attend church, do. So Julens Udfordring goes to the heart of the Danish Christmas with an even deeper, more potent message.

After all, the message of the God who put on flesh is infinitely more powerful than heartwarming carols and julenisser (Christmas elves), roast goose or gift-giving. Even in the pages of a simple Christmas magazine, the Creator of the universe is reaching down to enter a dark, chilly northern land where Christmas candles may burn brightly in every window, but where the genuine Light of the world still needs to find its way into the hearts of all its people.

PRAY that the Light of the world, Jesus, will burst out of quaint Danish Christmas customs this year, that many Danes will read and understand the message of peace through Julens Udfordring.

PRAY that Julens Udfordring magazines will find their way into unexpected places, that copies will be passed along to those who need to read it, and that many who are far from faith will have their hearts softened to hear about the real Jesus this Christmas season.

PRAY for the believers behind Julens Udfordring, for their protection and health, that they may continue to reach out with the daring message of salvation -- in print, online, or through whatever means God opens up.

And while you’re at it, please PRAY that God will use this Christmas season to bring salvation and revival to many more Danes. Julens Udfordring is just one open door of many.

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