One of the places we don't often think about Christmas happening is in the palaces of the rulers of the region where Christ was born. Even though we know that Herod persecuted the baby Boy and sparked His family's flight to Egypt, this is not part of the way that we tell the story. When we cast our children in the Christmas pageant, no one is asked to play Herod, although we never leave out the three wise men that he sent. (But we must mention that we often get this wrong and believe that the wise men and the shepherds were the same; they weren't.)
But there's probably good reason for that because while there was something incredible happening in a tiny manger in Bethlehem, the palace hardly even noticed.
We know that they hardly noticed because by the time Herod realizes that the baby Jesus might be anything at all special and sends wise men to see Him and realizes, in anger, that the wise men aren't coming back (which is confirmation that Jesus is, indeed, something special), he issues a decree to kill all of the children in the region who are two years old or younger.
Two years. It may have taken Herod up to two years to figure out what happened in Bethlehem that night.
Yet, at two years old, Jesus had not even performed His first recorded miracle yet. So even at this point, whatever Herod discovers, he learns through whispers and rumors.
The same kind of whispers and rumors that he apparently ignored for nine months while Mary carried Jesus in her womb. The same kind of whispers and rumors that he apparently ignored eight days later, when not one, but two, persons who had given their lives to see this moment had finally seen it and rejoiced. The same kind of whispers and rumors that continued to circulate for two years. Herod ignored them all.
Until, ironically, the men who were supposed to tell him whether Jesus was anything to be concerned about never came back.
Herod ignored the whispers and rumors until there was silence, and only then did he recognize what had happened in Bethlehem.
This is going to be the story for so many this Christmas. We're going to spend our time ignoring the whispers and the rumors. We're going to push aside and put off the church services and the worship songs. We're going to miss the star in the sky. Until some time after the season passes and suddenly, in the silence, we realize what it was. Only then, it's too late.
This Advent, don't let Christmas pass you by. Don't ignore the whispers and the rumors and the story that you think you know but need to hear again. And again. And again. Christ is coming. Indeed, He is here. Don't let your high places make you miss that. Don't wait until the silence has fallen and realize you missed it.