Christmas is a significant time for me.
It was in the run up to Christmas 2001 that Travelex dispensed with my services as FD of the currency services division. I was negotiating my exit over Christmas and into the New Year. It was a job I’d put my heart into, and moving on was filled with bitterness.
In December 2005, I was made redundant at Centrica, this time with no bitterness – a casualty of necessary cost cutting – but with much nervousness going into another round of job hunting.
In December 2007, I was made redundant again, surplus to requirements after a business acquisition. Jobless again over Christmas.
On Christmas Day 2009, I was rushed into hospital after turning a funny colour in church in the morning, and eventually finding I was suffering from cancer.
And then last year, 2015, I spent the first 23 days of December in hospital, wondering if I’d be home by Christmas, while I underwent a stem cell transplant following my second relapse.
I guess those things have heightened my awareness of Christmas. And my feeling, no matter how many bad things have clouded various Christmases, is that I’m very blessed.
Jesus is fully God and fully human, and one of the most comforting things I know is that Jesus sympathises with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15) – my weakness, that I know only too well, through Christmas trials and daily temptations and struggles. The words of the carol, Once in Royal David’s City, struck me this year:
“Tears and smiles like us He knew:
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.”
With the coming of Jesus, God entered his creation to redeem it through self-sacrifice. He demonstrated himself to be not just righteous, perfect, powerful, ruler and judge, but loving, merciful, forgiving and gracious.
He came alongside us, calling us to repent, to back down from our rebellion, and accept his forgiveness, to be his friends… more than that, to be his family.
And he is still calling us.