Summary: This is a concise meditation for a Christmas Eve Candle Light Service.
Christ, Luke 2:1-20, 52
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work. The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on. In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition. No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.00 each. This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context? If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
This evening we’ve paused for a moment to celebrate the glory of heaven ringing out loudly, proclaiming the wonder of God in the world; Christ Jesus who came into the world to offer redemption and lasting hope; the King of Kings.
In Christ we hear the bells of Heaven ringing loudly. In Christ we see God, the grand violinist, as it were, playing a sweet melody of hope, eternal life; redemption. We have been invited by God to attend this wonderful symphony of life, we have been ushered into our seats by the Holy Spirit, and here we are being overwhelmed by the majesty and beauty of the song being played; Emmanuel – God with us!
This evening we celebrate not the birth of merely a wise man, not only a great teacher, and certainly not simply a prophet of God; we celebrate God in the flesh, the promised Messiah; the Christ Child who came into the world to save the world.
The God Man who came into the world to set the captives free; to offer the hope of eternal salvation to you and to me. Of all of the sounds of the unwrapping of paper from the trinkets that we will collect this season, as you listen to them, hear a greater sound; the sound of the unwrapping, the unveiling of Christ to the world.
Take a moment to stop this season, even as you have done this evening, to listen for the sound of salvation, the ringing of the bells of grace, resounding in the wonder, the beauty, the majesty of Christ Jesus given. Unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given, His name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the World; Christ.