Dear Friends,

We Christians are a peculiar people. The wonderful old King James version of the Bible translated 1 Peter 2:9 in this memorable way: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. It is a memorable passage in God’s word written to describe that odd and disparate people who are Christians. We are, among other things,” peculiar”.

We are peculiar because our true home – our final home – is the new heaven and earth. We are peculiar because, while our “citizenship is in heaven”, we are to seek the true good of the earthly city which we sojourn in. We have no “holy city” but if we bear witness to Jesus Christ crucified in our earthly city then it will become more holy.

We are peculiar because we come from every tribe, nation, language, race and social class. We are peculiar because our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, has called us to go and proclaim the Gospel to every people group on the planet. We are peculiar because it is God alone who saves. We merely receive by faith what God has accomplished through the life, death and resurrection of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. What God has accomplished for us in Jesus Christ crucified is offered to every people group in the hope they will respond by faith.

We are peculiar because, in Jesus Christ, we are learning to die to the idols of our sin. At the same time we proclaim the true and living God. We are peculiar because we acknowledge that we are not special in any earthly sense with no cause to boast. Our thoughts can no more “capture” or “know” God than anyone else’s. We are peculiar because we are learning to know that we are beggars. God has revealed Himself in His word written and pre-eminently in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Messiah. He has done all of the revealing; we merely receive and know, listening as He speaks.

We are peculiar because, like Ottawa, we also value hope and family and peace and generosity and joy and goodwill. Yet, unlike Ottawa, we know they are, at best, attempting to worship “the unknown God”. We are peculiar because, like the Apostle Paul, we are to say, “what therefore you are to worship is unknown. This I proclaim to you.”

So today in our services we proclaim Jesus Christ crucified as we remember and celebrate His humble birth in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The Creator Himself enters His creation as a baby born. The Word, the second Person of the Trinity, took on flesh – in other words, took on human nature – and was born a baby in Bethlehem. He came, our Creator, to live a life we could not live and die, on His creatures’ behalf, taking upon Himself our doom and offering to us His reward.

Friends, brothers and sisters, and guests – Merry Christmas!