The birth of God was costly. It cost relinquishment of the heady grandeur of not only being God but looking like God; and thirty years after that birth it cost the degradation of Jesus by a brutal death (Phil. 2). It cost Mary the terrifying vulnerability of becoming an unmarried pregnant young girl who would be shunned by polite society of the first century (Lk. 1,2). And, according to the apocryphal second century Infancy Gospel of James, it cost the painful humiliation and excruciating discomfort of several days' journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem on the bony back of a donkey through desert country with no lodging. In the service of taxation.
When we rightly enjoy the good company and celebration of this wonderful season, it is worth remembering the expense of our joy.
Why did God submit to an ignominious birth through an unwed mother with no midwife, doctor, or anesthesia in a barn full of septic cattle urine and excrement? Why did God humiliate Himself through this costly birth? Through the indescribably brutal death that followed just thirty three years later?
A two word, revolutionary answer changes everything--or can if I will let it, if you will let it. These two words, following the costly birth of God into our world, can upend all we know, or think we know, of what it means to live. What it means to be who we are, years after our own birth. These two words change all it means to gather with friends and family and gifts and work and sleep and play and hurt and growth and all the days of our lives.
Those two words are the Gospel. And, as Isaac Watts wrote (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross), the amazing love in those two words, love willing to pay the price of this costly birth, "...demands our soul, our life, our all." Those two words?
"...unto you..." (Lk. 2:11).