Unrecognized & Ignored
Main Point of Discussion:
Don’t let Jesus go unnoticed this Christmas.
Vital Info Before You Get Started:
(The following should help you contextualize this important issue so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
- This discussion will use a story about world-famous violinist Joshua Bell who, as an experiment, spent a morning incognito in the DC Metro station playing for passers-by—and hardly anyone noticed him. Bell’s tale (and video) can be used to springboard into a discussion about Jesus coming into the world almost completely unnoticed.
- Click here for the original Washington Post Article and a short video clip of Bell in the Metro
- Read the following summary, then show the clip.
It was Friday morning, in the middle of the morning rush at the DC Metro. As more than a 1,000 people passed by, a young man in jeans and baseball cap pulled a violin out of its case, threw a few dollars down as seed money, and began 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 is 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 money, and over 1,000 never stopped, never even turned to look.
The master musician had gone unrecognized and overwhelmingly ignored. (Show the clip.)
Q: What’s going on in this clip?
A: These lucky passers-by who didn’t recognize Bell missed out, big time.
Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this clip?
A: The passers-by were given a gift—a front-row seat to hear the best violinist on the planet—and none of them took it. Only a few even paused to drop coins in his violin case, but no one stopped to take in the beautiful music. Same thing with Jesus: He offers the world a gift—himself. But hardly anyone noticed when he came into the world, and many still don’t notice him today.
Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this situation to actually living out those opinions?
A: We have to keep telling the story. We have to let people know that the reason we give gifts to each other at Christmas is because the season is about the greatest gift of all—Jesus.
Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, keep engaging them.
For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)
CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.
More than 2,000 years ago the very Creator of the universe showed up—but 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 blind to notice. Of course, God didn’t 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 initially ignored occurrence as one of the most significant events in human history. This event is what we call Christmas. More than 2,000 years ago most people missed it. Are you missing Christmas this year?
Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide,
primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.
More Discussion Questions:
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: Before we begin, tell everyone if there’s something you’re looking forward to this Christmas.
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: In the story we just heard, one of the world’s best musicians went unnoticed in a busy D.C. Metro station. Why do you think nobody noticed him?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: When Jesus came to earth as a baby, he didn’t spend his first night in the Presidential Suite at the Hilton…he stayed in a mere stable. Why do you think God chose to enter the world this way?
Read the following passage from the Bible:
ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How many people showed up to see Jesus when he was born? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: Besides Mary and Joseph, the only others were the shepherds—the three wise guys actually came a little later.)
ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER: What did the angel tell the shepherds? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: A savior has been born.)
ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: When did the shepherds start spreading the word about the birth of Jesus? (Parent—answer you’re looking for is in verse 17: after they had seen Him)
ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER: What does the last verse say that the shepherds did after they saw Jesus? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: So the Shepherds did two things after they saw Jesus: they spread the word, and they praised God for all they had seen and heard.)
HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: How can you spread the word and praise God about the birth of Jesus this week (and this season)?
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
When Jesus came into this world, he arrived virtually unnoticed. But now his birthday is celebrated all over the world as one of the most significant dates in history. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, plain and simple.
Sure, the world has come up with all kinds of other fun elements that surround this holiday: Santa Clause, Rudolf, shopping malls, and decorating trees. These things aren’t bad…but sometimes they become the focus of Christmas and we miss the real reason behind the holiday. Christmas comes and goes…and Jesus is unrecognized. His message of saving grace is missed.
Don’t bypass the stable this year for a trip to the mall. Remember the baby. Remember why he came.
Spread the word of Jesus’ birth and take some time to praise Him this season. If you don’t hear the Christmas story being told this season, share it with someone. Read the passage above. Heck…show the
Charlie Brown Christmas Special and Linus will read the passage for you. Just don’t let Jesus go unnoticed this season.
Close in Prayer
*Special thanks to Paul Edwards for this idea.
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