This was a youth ministry email sent to me:
It was Friday morning, January 12th, in the middle of the morning rush at the DC Metro. As over a 1,000 people passed by, a young white man in jeans and baseball cap pulled a violin out of its case, threw a few dollars down as seed money, and begin to play.
A rich sound filled the Metro plaza, an elegant and pure melody that these walls had never heard before. An occasional passerby dropped a few coins in the case, but for the most part, the musician was ignored.
1097 people passed by that morning. The violin case managed to collect a mere $32 and change in donations.
Who was this unrecognized brilliant young musician?
“No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside The Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.” (Pearls Before Breakfast, Washington Post, April 8, 2007)
The musician’s name was Josh Bell. Three days before this experiment that the Washington Post arranged at the Metro, Bell filled Boston’s Symphony Hall, where average seats went for $100. Two weeks later there would be standing room only at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda. But on this particular frigid January morning only a handful of people paused for even a moment to take in the beautiful sound that under normal circumstances filled Halls and packed auditoriums.
The violin that Bell cradled was a 3.5 million dollar instrument hand crafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari. It is said that no violin produces a sound as wonderful as Strads from the 1710s.
Sixty three people passed by before anyone even seemed to notice the musician at all. A middle aged man slowed his pace for a moment and glanced to the left. He kept walking, but it was something. Not a minute later a women tossed in a dollar without even stopping. It was six minutes before someone even stopped to listen.
Only seven people stopped at all to listen to the master musician, twenty seven people gave, and over 1,000 never stopped, never even turned to look.
The master musician had gone unrecognized and overwhelmingly ignored. (Click here for the original Washington Post Article and a short video clip of Bell in the Metro )
2,000 years ago the very creator of the universe showed up, and very few people even noticed.
You’d think that people would recognize our master creator by what they saw and heard. But overwhelmingly, people were too busy and too blinded to notice.
Of course, God didn’t choose to enter the world as a conquering king or triumphant hero. His arrival was humble and simple. He came as a baby, born in a dirty stable because there was no room at any of the inns.
The master creator showed up on earth to save us from the walls we had built between ourselves and God. His arrival was hardly noticed, but for centuries to come, people would celebrate this single, momentous, yet ignored occurrence- one of the most significant events in human history. This event is what we call Christmas. 2,000 years ago most people missed it.
Are you missing Christmas this year?