Virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell played in the Washington underground for forty-three minutes in 2007, on an instrument worth $3.5 million, finishing off with Bach’s famous piece Chaccone in D minor. Out of 1,097 people passing him by, only seven stopped to listen to him for more than a minute.
The reason the wise men came to see Jesus was because of a star they’d seen in the sky. The appearance of this star was so unusual that they deduced that it heralded the birth of a new king, who was unlike any that had been before, or would be again. Scholars have reasoned that this star had been in the sky for two years by the time the wise men arrived to see King Herod. The wise men travelled a long distance (possibly a thousand miles), over arduous terrain, to worship the new king of the Jews.
Isn’t it ironic that King Herod and all his great counsellors were completely oblivious to the importance of this same star that the Magi had been tracking over such a long time and many miles? Herod’s theologians had to go back to scripture to find for themselves the prophecy in Micah 5:2 that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, only six miles from where they were. Yet, knowing this, having the Magi standing before them declaring that the star above them verified that king of the Jews had been born, it seems not one of them travelled those six miles personally to see for themselves. Were they too busy?
Christmas is such a busy time for many of us. Presents to choose, food to buy, houses to decorate inside and out, cards to write, meals to cook, family and friends to invite. So easy to forget the real meaning of Christmas because we are too busy. Would we have been one of the 1,092 people who walked past the violinist virtuoso Joshua Bell in 2007 and not realised what a treat we had just missed? I think it’s likely we would have done. Too busy.
This December, amongst the mince pies, crackers, presents, turkey and celebrations, let’s just take time out to remember why we’re celebrating. Let’s not miss out, like Herod’s scholars. Instead, let’s pick up our bibles and revisit the Christmas story we know so well, and invite the Holy Spirit to take us back to that stable in Bethlehem nearly two thousand years ago, and join the angels and shepherds in worshipping the Son of God, born for us.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be too busy for You this Christmas. I don’t want to miss out on celebrating the real reason for the season. Help me to make time for You, and please make the Christmas story come alive for me again. Amen.