August 1st is Swiss National Day. This year, the country is celebrating 727 years of confederation which began in 1291 with three Alpine cantons. The Swiss love to celebrate with all the fireworks you can possibly imagine. It’s a country which has been blessed and has many things for which to give thanks.
Switzerland played a key role in the Reformation which brought renewal and revival to many parts of Europe. Calvin shaped thinking in Geneva and Zwingli lead a movement in Zurich. There were others that emerged as well like the Anabaptists or Mennonites. All groups brought a passion for people to read the Bible and to know Christ personally. While there were many unfortunate events that happened during that time, there was also a genuine shift in the direction and spiritual level of the country.
Sadly, many people today have turned away from their Christian heritage. In the last one hundred years, the number of citizens who identify as Protestant has fallen by more than half, from 52% to 25% of the overall population. A full 24% of the population don’t identify with any religion. Even fewer people actually attend or participate in any kind of regular church life. Fewer than 4% of the population would consider themselves evangelical today.
As a nation, Switzerland has been very blessed. According to any standards, it is a great country to live and work in. However, it needs the fresh wind of God’s spirit to blow across the Alps again. It needs a fresh visitation from heaven. I’m reminded of Habakkuk’s prayer:
I have heard all about you, Lord.
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
remember your mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)
Today, I will celebrate the nation’s birthday and I’ll say a prayer that God will have mercy and move again in this country. We need it.