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December 13, 2015

Celebrating the Gospel at Christmas

Dr. John Neufeld

Throughout my life, I have often noticed that over the years, the reality of a sin cursed world and the hope presented in the gospel are seen in stark contrast with each other.

And this year, things are surely that way. The dangers of terrorism with the ensuing attacks in both Paris and San Bernardino remind us that the world is a hostile place. The ongoing struggle in Syria has resulted in a kind of moral crisis for many nations of the world.

How to respond to an overwhelming crisis? How to keep the fears of terrorism at bay?

In this blog, I have already addressed how Christians should respond to the Canadian government’s commitment to bring in Syrian refugees. I believe we should be welcoming, share friendship as well as our faith with all who arrive.

But there is more. In the December 11th issue of the Globe and Mail, a picture was shown, featuring Prime Minister Trudeau at Pearson Airport in Toronto, greeting the first of the Syrian refugees. I read the article with interest, and found tears coming to my eyes. The husband, wife and children being greeted by our Prime Minister were a family of Christian refugees, sponsored by Christian Armenians in Ontario. I thanked God that this family had made it out alive, and that our God, in graciousness brought them to our land. And I thanked God for a country in which our Prime Minister interrupted his schedule to welcome them. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

And this has started me musing. I am again taken up by the fact that some are concerned with the potential of terrorism, and what the reality of more Muslims in Canada might bring in the future. But it is Christmas, and I am once reminded that Christ came to a world in order to make an invitation to those who were most unworthy of his grace. And that is all of us.

Here are the facts. Canada is a nation made up of every conceivable philosophy, worldview, religion and outlook. Outside of the First Nations people, all of us are immigrants. As a Bible believing Christian, I am aware of the universal sinfulness of all, and the universal need for all to receive the saving news of Jesus. The call to Canadian believers this Christmas is to offer the kindness and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to all. That includes those who have been in this country for generations but are far from Christ, and those who arrived last week from a refugee camp in Syria who are also far from Christ. Ours is a mission of grace.

But in the midst of it all, my heart was taken up by the Jenanian family, the family greeted by our Prime Minister; the Christian family from Aleppo. In the word of Sarkis Jenanian, the husband and father, “I’m proud of the Canadian government and the Armenian Church because we didn’t have another chance.”

I find myself wondering what those words meant – “We didn’t have another chance.” And in the midst of a global crisis, and the fears and anxieties of many, I am thankful to my God, for a grace that is given to all of us sinners who didn’t have another chance.

And so, this Christmas, when the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ is superimposed once more on a broken and fallen world, I find myself overwhelmed with our mandate this Christmas. Let us proclaim

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