feature from LDN's Worship Guide
'We didn't know who you were'
Lincoln Church of the Nazarene
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[December 13, 2013]
heard Thomas Wolfe's well-worn phrase often enough: You can't go
home again. I suppose that holds true for an alma mater as well. The
campus you left however many years before is forever frozen in time
in your heart. Meanwhile, capital campaigns have been launched to
build new buildings; professors who shaped your way of thinking have
moved on or gone on; and the current students who now occupy what
was once YOUR space look awfully young — a lot younger than you ever
This point became crystal clear a few weeks ago when I was visiting
the university where I received my undergraduate education. A
serious student, I managed to cram a four-year degree into 11 years.
Part of the reason for my "extended" education was that I was given
the chance to work full-time in the university's maintenance
department. My crew was responsible for fixing things like
furniture, remodeling and rehabbing living spaces — like tearing up
old carpet or laying down new tile in dorm rooms and apartments —
building stuff, hanging pictures, setting up for special events,
and, well, anything else the boss wanted done. Quietly behind the
scenes, we worked together to ensure the campus was well maintained
for present and future students. It had its share of frustrations,
but we took great pride in our work and gave it our best.
Anyway, after leaving there more than 12 years ago, I wandered
through the campus on a recent break weekend with some family
members who still work there. Specifically, they wanted to show off
the latest addition to the facilities — a brand-new student life
center with a massive indoor rock-climbing wall, Olympic-sized
pools, more fitness equipment than I've ever seen assembled in one
place and plenty of social space for students to recreate. I have to
admit I was very impressed!
But before we were permitted to wander around, we had to pass by
a reception desk where a young attendant asked us for
identification. My brother-in-law dutifully produced his ID and told
the hostess that we were with him, and we proceeded on our tour.
Now I know this will sound irrational, since a 20-ish student
would have no reason whatsoever to have any idea who in the world I
am, but I felt strangely slighted at her request for proof that I
belonged there. I, who once carried a set of keys that would open
almost every door on campus, was being detained by a kid who didn't
know me from Adam.
I was thinking like this: "Who am I? You should know. I probably
tiled your floor. I may have replaced your kitchen countertop. Who
am I? I helped put up the iron fence that surrounds your park-like
campus. Who am I? How could you ask such a question when I am quite
possibly the one who assembled your bunk bed? I may have repaired
the seat you occupy in the auditorium where your sociology class
meets. Who am I?!? Instead of asking me such a stupid question, you
should be thanking me for my part in making comfortable surroundings
Like I said, totally irrational, right? In my defense, it was
only a fleeting thought, but it left an impression worth reflecting
on at this time of year because the season is once again upon us.
[to top of second column]
The church calls it the season of Advent. Some choose to call it
the Christmas season. Others just say the holidays are approaching.
Whatever you call it, the truth is that all those years ago, a pure
young woman became a miracle mother to the very Son of God Himself.
As Jesus grew and became self-aware, I wonder if He had moments
like mine, only with good reason. When He was belittled as an
illegitimate child or falsely accused of violating the law or
misunderstood for the compassion He showed to poor sinners (like
us), do you suppose He ever thought: "Don't you recognize me? I'm
the One who made the stars over your head. Don't you know Me? I'm
the One who gave the birds their voice, the One who sends the rain
to grow the food for your table, and the One who knit you together
in your mother's womb. How could you not recognize the One who
numbers your follicles and carves the great canyons of this world
and will love you to My dying day — and beyond? I'm right here!"
But they kept asking Him for His credentials. So do we.
Songwriter Robert MacGimsley got it right:
little Jesus boy,
They made you be born in a manger.
Sweet little holy child,
We didn't know who you were,
know you'd come to save us, Lord,
To take our sins away.
Our eyes were blind, we could not see,
We didn't know who you were.
But it doesn't have to be that way. You can know Him, love Him
and celebrate Him this season! I'm pretty sure these are the best
gifts you could give Jesus this Christmas!
[By Pastor GREG WOOTEN, Lincoln
Church of the Nazarene]