“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5b-8 NIVUK)
As we enter the season of Advent, I’ve been reflecting on the cost of Christmas.
I don’t just mean the cost of Christmas in commercial terms: although, it has to be said that an obscene amount of money is spent on Christmas celebrations each year. For example, in 2016, UK Christmas spending reached £77.56 billion. To put this in perspective, the estimated cost to ensuring everyone on earth has access to clean drinking water is somewhere between £7.45 – £11.31 billion.
The cost I have in mind is the cost on people. I fear that we buy into a rather sanitised image of Christmas: it is a wonderful time of good cheer, a time for catching up with friends and meeting with family, for smiling and laughing and being merry. And for some, this is Christmas.
But for others, Christmas is an intensely lonely and difficult time: it acts as a reminder of friends and family who, for whatever reason, are not present; of distant relations; of loss. While we may be inclined to celebrate, we should not forget those for whom Christmas is a very costly time.
Yet, for one, Christmas was more costly than we will ever know. Paul alludes to it in the verses above, and the same sentiments are captured in the lyrics from the song, “How Many Kings” by Downhere:
How many Kings stepped down from their thrones?
How many Lords have abandoned their homes?
How many Greats have become the least for me?
And how many Gods have poured out their hearts,
To romance a world that is torn all apart?
How many Fathers gave up their Sons for me?
Only One did that for me.
At Christmas, we remember that God the Son left His rightful place in Heaven, and entered our world: not in power and authority, but as a vulnerable baby. The God of Creation stepped into our world, and took upon Himself the form of a human being: He became one of us.
The cost of giving up His Heavenly glory to become one of us, we will never truly understand. How much more did it cost Him to take our death upon Himself: even death on a cross? It’s a cliched, I know, but Jesus truly is “the reason for the season”.
May God bless you this Christmas,