Thursday, April 9, 2009

Losing Easter: An American Tragedy


Easter is one of my favorite holidays, but the number of US citizens who celebrate it from a religious point of view is diminishing rapidly. Would it surprise you to know that the percentage of self-identified Christians in our country has dropped ten points in the last ten years? What's more, the number of Americans not affiliated with a religion at all has doubled since 1990, while the ranks of atheists and agnostics have quadrupled. These and more statistics can be found in Newsweek's cover story called "
The Decline and Fall of Christian America," and I find the trend more than troubling.

Newsweek is quick to point out that "The Christian God is not dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent history," an assessment which (for me) is neither reassuring nor surprising. All one has to do is watch the news for several minutes to glimpse the handwriting on the wall.

A poignant reminder of the Easter season and its eternal gifts is found in the following hymn, published in the April Ensign. (Text by John V. Pearson; Music by David R. Naylor; c1998.)

Behold the wounds in Jesus' hands, the marks upon His side.
Then ponder whom He meant to save when on the cross He died.
We cannot see the love of God which saves us from the Fall,
yet know that Christ, from wood and nails, built mansions for us all.

Behold the outstretched hands of Christ, our Lord, who came to save,
whose love and grace redeem our souls and lift us from the grave.
Though bruised and battered as we stray, His guiding hands caress.
He washes and anoints with oil; then in His arms, we rest.

Behold the wounds in Jesus' hands. Look to your Lord and live. 
He yearns to bless you with His love and all your sins forgive.
Oh, empty is the heart of man when it is filled with sin.
Come, open wide your broken heart and let your Savior in.

Behold His wounded hands and feet! Come touch, and see, and feel
the wounds and marks that you may know His love for you is real. 
Then as you fall to worship Him and wash His feet in tears,
your Savior takes you in His arms and quiets all your fears. 

May those of us who still honor and worship Him do so with great love, and may we always be willing to share our knowledge of His great love with others.

"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!" (D&C 76:22)

6 comments:

KC Mom said...

I'm afraid if we don't turn back to Him as a country...we will inevitably suffer greatly. Not celebrating Easter is one of the signs of that I think.

jen said...

This is the primary reason that I have my family do the Mesa easter pageant (see www.easterpageant.org)
That way, we keep the focus where it belongs, and with all the scripture and song going through your head, it's difficult to misalign your priorities.
ps I'm waiting for your mailing address. Your suggestions were awesome!

Ryan said...

MY FIRST POST EVER: Im going to add some much needed spirituality to this post. I was reading my BOM on the bus today (I know, rather unexpected) and I read something that goes right along with this topic. It is found at 1 Nephi 13:19 and 20. I truly believe that this country was founded on religious values centered in Christ and that its central purpose was freedom of religion thus leading to the restoration. This scripture states that the Gentiles (the American people after the revolutionary war) were "delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations" and that the Gentiles "did prosper in the land". The question is...as we turn away from Christ and God the Father (as seems to be the trend), how long will we prosper in the land? I know I know..pretty deep. Sometimes I just can't help it:)

Momza said...

I think it depends on where you live when looking outward at our community for signs of faith.
When we lived in Meridian, Idaho it seemed like our world was cloaked in faith-filled folks. (say that 3 times real fast)
And here in Colorado Springs it is much the same. But, I would not say that of Denver...perhaps the bigger the community is, the more diversity of faith or lack thereof?
to quote Jacob,"But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."


word verification: litess

Sue said...

Well, if it isn't Ryan. Welcome! You've finally posted, and so insightfully, too. =)

Now every single one of you has posted but one. (Yes, Karin, that means YOU.) In fact, Matt has posted several times, though unfortunately for Heather he seems to enjoy posting under her name. Needless to say, it is not difficult to differentiate between their offerings.

heehee

Natalie said...

OH MY GOSH!! I am just getting caught up on your posts I missed while in Georgia. I read this article in a hotel lobby, ended asking if I could take the magazine with me, and am currently writing a letter because of it.
So cool that you and I are often on the same wavelength. Cool to me, but possibly worrisome to you.
:)

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