What about Atheists at Christmas?

by pilgrim on 16th December 2013

Out carol-singing a few nights ago outside the supermarket I was temporarily silenced by the put-down from a shopper who glibly told me “I’m an atheist”. It was as though that was the end of the matter when I reached out to him with a give-away candle and a Bible text relating to Christmas.

What should I have said in reply? How about “No problem – Christmas is for atheists, too!” Perhaps my underlying disquiet was not that my offer of goodwill (as I saw it) was being rejected, but that he had such a glib, self-confident response.

It raises the question in my mind “What do atheists have to be so confident about?” It sounds a bit like the pauper who brags that he has nothing in his bank account. ¬†Or does the atheist think that has made life a lot simpler for himself, and saved himself a lot of hassle, by not being ‘religious’?

If only we could persuade him otherwise. The sad fact is that there are an increasing number of atheists and agnostics in the western world today. Secularism is rampant in many areas of society – and the Church does not know how to respond.

At least we can pray for these people, knowing that we have a mighty God who cares and who loves them – even if they as yet do not have an awareness of that fact. But can we do more? What will it take to engage them in meaningful communication? What can you or I meaningfully say that will cause them to pause in their tracks and cause them to re-evaluate their lives, their worldview and who and what they are in the cosmos?

The experience of many people today has been described as a great emptiness. And that emptiness easily leads to desperation and loneliness.

For such people we may need to find loving, sensitive ways by which to engage them. It could be through direct person-to-person contact, or via the arts – literature, drama, poetry, art. It could even be through carefully chosen words – perhaps questions – that we nudge that individual toward God.

It makes me think….

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