There are two kinds of important days.
There are the important days that we know are important at the time. And there are the important days when we only know of their significance with hindsight.
A couple weeks ago, we had the anniversary of an important day in American history when we remembered the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941.
Other important days in American history.
November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy died.
September 11, 2001.
You knew those were historic days at the time.
And that’s also true in our personal lives.
There are some days that you know are monumental days at the time.
The day you get married. The day kids are born.
But as we begin in our passage this morning, I want to talk for a moment about the days that matter but that we don’t know matter until after the fact.
On June 28, 1914, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was killed. It was a story at the time, but to observers, it seemed like a regional matter that wouldn’t extend much past Eastern Europe. In reality that event was the spark that led to the outbreak of World War I, the most destructive war the world had ever seen at that time.
The days that matter that you don’t know matter.
The first time you ever heard of Covid-19 in China, you probably never imagined that it was going to turn our world upside down.
Think about the day the lightbulb was invented. The world was going to change but most people had no idea.
It’s always a fascinating thought to me. That such significant days can be days when you don’t know it at the time.
I think of one of the most significant days in my life. February 20, 2017. It was on that day that I talked to a girl on eharmony.com who I thought looked cute. I had no idea at the time, but that was the first day I ever talked to my wife.
Think about the day a famous person was born. No one knows it at the time. A future president, or leading actor, or star athlete could be in the process of being born this very morning and we wouldn’t know it.
And I think of that with the events surrounding the first Christmas Eve.
Human history was about to forever change.
For people who lived in Bethlehem on that first Christmas Eve, their little town was about to be center stage to events that we’d be talking about 2,000 years later, events that were so significant that time itself is calculated by its proximity to them.
And for the average person living in Bethlehem on that first Christmas Eve, they would have had no idea.
Think about that.
Song – While you were sleeping
One of my favorite newer Christmas songs of the last several years comes from the Christian band Casting Crowns. The song is titled “While you were sleeping.”
And the song considers this world-changing event. Christ coming into the world, and how it happened on – for many people – just any other ordinary night.
The song says:
O Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
O Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping
The world kept turning. On that first Christmas and over the coming weeks and months, people continued to live their lives.
For the average person living at the time, that seems to be the most likely response at the advent of Christ. Unawareness. Obliviousness.
But there were some who had heard about the birth of Jesus. You have wise men who sought this newborn baby out. You have King Herod who heard the news but who was not overjoyed at the prospect of another king living in his territory. And you have Herod’s priests and scribes, those who were most learned in the Old Testament, yet who would miss the significance of the moment.
The first Christmas, many didn’t realize what had happened. But since that first Christmas, the rest of history has been turned upside down.
It was easy to be blissfully unaware of Jesus as a baby. But what do you do with him as a man? What do you do with him as a teacher? What do you do with him as a prophet? What do you do with him as a savior? What do you do with him as Lod?
Some will continue to ignore him, some will continue to miss the significance of who he is, some will continue to actively oppose him.
But will you come to him and worship him?
It might have been easy to dismiss a baby, but that baby grew and became the savior of the world. That baby went to the cross. That tomb was empty on the third day.
What do you do with all of that?
Will you continue to overlook the significance of Jesus and who he is?
Or will you come to him and worship him as Lord?
People ignored and overlooked the significance on the first Christmas but what are you doing with Jesus this Christmas?
He invites you to come to him, to know him.
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