Ninnescah Pasture

Ninnescah Pasture

Monday, April 14, 2014

Raise My Ebenezer

 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.
From the hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

I’ve been singing hymns for a long, long time. I've had my share of misunderstandings of lyrics. As young girls sitting by our Grandpa Shelby in the pews of Byers United Methodist Church, my sisters and I were convinced we were singing the Gloria Patri directly to him, "...As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be." 

"Shall be" sounds like "Shelby" to little ears, don't you think?

It’s hard to calculate how many times I've sung, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It would be dozens. But until a few weeks ago, I’d never given any thought to the line that says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer.”

Pastor Ben said he’s made it a mission to define that phrase at every church he serves. Literally, an Ebenezer is a stone of help. It’s a reminder of God’s real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. 

In 1 Samuel 7, we read that the Israelites were under attack by the Philistines. Outnumbered and in fear for their lives, they plead with the prophet Samuel to pray for God’s help. Samuel offered a sacrifice and prayed for protection.
 “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
In Hebrew the word ebenezer means “stone of help.” This raised stone was a reminder to the Israelites of what the Lord had done for them. The Ebenezer stone represented a fresh beginning, a reversal of course for God’s people. It also said something important about God: His mercies are everlasting; His covenant is forever.

It doesn't have anything to do with my worthiness. It has everything to do with God's grace. 

When Pastor Ben explained the meaning behind the lyrics, I thought of a photo I'd taken when we visited Idaho several years ago. During a morning walk by a river, we saw a pile of stones balanced on a bigger rock along the water's edge.
 
I was struck by its beauty, since its shape mimicked a pine tree across the river on the other bank.

As we enter Holy Week this week, how can I raise my Ebenezer? Spiritually speaking, an Ebenezer can be anything that reminds me of God's presence and help:
A remember can be found in a beautiful sunrise to begin the day ...

... in reading the Bible before the sun comes up ...

in the communion elements ...

 in a cross

 in springtime flowers emerging from bulbs

in yellow forsythia blooming against blue sky

in music

in helping hands

in prayer

in love shown in a myriad of ways

 in a sunset when day is done.

Those things remind me of God's love, God's presence and God's help in my life. They can serve as touchstones during this Holy Week as I walk this path of remembering Jesus' great sacrifice for me.
Samuel recognized something that’s true about human nature: We’re forgetful. At Ebenezer, Israel could stand next to that big old rock and remind themselves, “Yes, we serve a living and faithful God, whose mercies are everlasting.”
O 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, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Here I raise my Ebenezer …



I am a Chris Rice fan, so I found this version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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I am linked today to Michelle DeRusha's "Hear It On Sunday, Use It On Monday." Click on the link for other reflections from bloggers of faith. 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you, Kim! This was beautifully written. Am not sure I'd given much thought to Ebenezer, either; this will carry new meaning for me now. Blessings to you and your family this Holy Week!

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    1. Thank you, Brenda! I've thought a lot about it since Pastor Ben first shared the message. Blessings to you and yours, too! I hope you'll get to enjoy the grandkids for Easter. Isn't it fun?!

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