The Pew Research Center is one of many organizations dedicated to providing information about our behavior ranging from our thoughts about certain issues impacting our lives to our opinions on current events - political, social, or economic. Gallup is another organization that studies our behavior as well, and you take each survey with a grain of salt and look for patterns over time because our opinions and feeling about something usually can change over time as more information unfolds.
Pew recently released a study on our attitudes toward faith, and the US is in the middle of the pack among nations when it comes to our feelings on the importance of religion in our lives. 53% say faith is important (not specifying the type of faith among the main religions) which is highest among western nations. Our allies, Britain, Germany, and Canada have respondents from about 21% - 27% saying that faith is important. The median is 55% globally and the nations higher than the US are mostly developing nations with Ethiopia at the top with 98%, and Uganda where our church Hope Lutheran has a mission, is 94%.
I rarely take a poll at face value yet a complimentary report on the meaning of Christmas in which most Americans now see Christmas as cultural rather than religious. The "Silent Generation" (World War II) places the highest beliefs in Christmas as a religious holiday, followed by the Baby Boomers, then Generation X, and then the Millenials (those who are assuming a larger role in our country as they become older in adulthood) have the largest number of people who see Christmas as cultural. So, you see as we move away from the 20th century, newer generations place less meaning on the religious aspect of holidays.
So, we see our society take on a different meaning for Christmas, cultural and religious, and we see that society is beginning to see it more culturally than as a religious observation. This doesn't conflict with other things we learn about the role of faith in the US (and even surveys from faith-based organizations have similar results) over the past 20 years and begins to put the discussion about CHRIST in Christmas into context. Some are adamant about it and others continue on their way ignoring it and celebrating Christmas as they see fit. How does the church properly respond at times like this, where our role as Christ's bride here to take the Word of Christ to the people is in higher demand now more than in the past?
Christ has answers for us, revealed clearly in His Word, so our answers begin there. In Matthew 9, Jesus looks at the crowds and has compassion on them and tells his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." In Matthew 28, Christ gives us our commission to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." We know the importance of prayer from Christ's own example as he prays for us (his disciples) in John 17, for protection while we are in the world and that God protect us in a world hostile to God and to the message of Christ. We see the example of the disciples in Acts as the Spirit works through them to deliver the message of Christ to a world in need of faith in Christ and healing from the sin that is in the world.
Our prayer is that Christ be with us and that the Spirit use us to effectively take the message of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection to this world in a spirit of compassion. We pray that our families, friends, community, and others we reach hear this Word and learn it and take it to heart.
Hope Men's Ministry