Ebenezer, stone of help
Before this week's reflection, we wanted to drop in this SAVE THE DATE for the upcoming Windrush Day Away retreat on Saturday, June 10th in Parkdale, Oregon. Please mark your calendar and start sharing widely!
Now, on to the reflection:
We just finished celebrating Easter -- Jesus’ death and resurrection. His conquering of evil and creation of a new covenant. Currently in the story, Jesus is beginning to re-appear to his disciples. Can you even imagine?!
Jesus will continue to remain on the earth for another 40 days before his ascension to heaven. The gospel of John ends with a line that always leaves me curious and amazed… “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” John 21:25.
Have you ever written down the ways in which Jesus/God/Holy Spirit has impacted your life? Your moments? Your days? Would that record be lines, pages or books?
The Israelites, God’s people of the Old Testament, had a practice of remembering. Most knowledge was passed down orally, so there was a practice of saying out loud, singing or sharing what God had done for His people.
Have you ever heard the song “Come Thou Fount” with its lyrics ”Here I raise my Ebenezer..."? An Ebenezer was a literal stone that Samuel had the people build to remember when God showed up and rescued them. In Hebrew, Ebenezer means stone of help. It was a literal stone God’s people used to remember when God showed up.
The hymn's lyrics continue “...Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” And isn’t it true? Aren’t I (we) prone to wander and leave the God that we love? For this very reason, Samuel had an Ebenezer built.
If you have ever experienced God, that moment feels as real and palpable as anything. There is an energy behind it, and you can feel that energy if you’ve encountered someone who has just experienced Jesus. Yet, as the days, weeks, years go by, the encounter may feel less real, our logical mind may begin to come up with ideas to reason it away, or we may flat out forget the experience.
I wish I would have written down many of my encounters, the ways in which God had shown up for me. I know those days when I wonder if the whole “God thing” is even real. What would it be like to read and remember those experiences where I knew it was true? What might it be like to walk past the Ebenezer stones of my life? I wonder if our spirit wouldn’t begin to build with excitement, like when you recall an amazing vacation with your partner or friend… What an encouragement that would be!
When Jesus rose from the grave and visited his disciples, he allowed them to feel the holes in his hands. He wanted them to know that He was real, their experiences were real, and God truly was with them. For the disciples, it was a physical form; for us, we have our stories, experiences and encounters with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. And we have experiences alongside others walking in faith.
My prayer for us as we leave the Easter season is that we would know that God is with us, our experiences were and are real, and as the hymn sings… may we, a people prone to wander, raise our own Ebenezers and "tune our hearts to sing His grace." May we experience "streams of mercy, never ceasing" and express our gratitude "in songs of loudest praise."
Come Thou Fount. Listen Here
Come thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of God's redeeming love
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here by Thy great help I've come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Bought me with His precious blood
Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Here's my heart Lord, though it's weakened
Hold me in Your precious arms
-Robert Robertson (1735-1790)