“Here I lay my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come…”
– Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
I was in seminary, in Intro to Old Testament either I or II, when I learned the meaning of the word “Ebenezer.” From 2 Hebrew words, ebn and ezer, “Ebenezer” means “stone of help.”
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing was always a favorite hymn of mine, even more so after I learned that beautiful tidbit of information.
Since then, I have tried to mark turning points in my life, moments in which God’s presence and work in my life is pronounced and unmistakable, with metaphorical Ebenezers in my mind. I can turn my attention to these when the going gets rough, and know that God who has been with me, will always be with me.
To lay an Ebenezer is to build an altar, a marker of remembrance in memory of God’s presence, provision and work. The people of God in scripture are known to have marked transitions and victories with Ebenezers.
Yesterday on the 4th anniversary of my ordination, I was reminded of human Ebenezers – a most loving congregation of people who dedicated a day to affirm gifts for ministry and speak blessings into my life; blessings they had no idea were carrying me through a particularly trying time.
For people with anxiety, sometimes periods of inner unrest and restlessness just happen. It’s hard to grasp that someone can be anxious for no discernible reason, for days on end, just because. But, that day was balm for my soul and a happy time of living into a calling that I think I had been preparing for throughout my life, without ever knowing it.
Years of childhood “revivals” in the back yard with animals live and stuffed, multiple baptisms a week and services of communion with saltines and grape juice, and the passionate singing of hymns;
culminated in a service of worship with dear friends and family, with a faith family that knows no other way than to give of themselves, in the sharing of bread and juice, and the passionate singing of hymns.
In memory of this day and what it means to me, I spent the day in gratitude by tidying up at home, and it was the best day.
My kitchen is in order, all the laundry is clean and ready to be sorted into “keep” and “donate” and the table is clear of clutter. Cabinets are organized and things are in place.
The day ended in a surprise by my husband. In a meaningful gesture of affirmation of my ordination and as a woman in ministry, Andrew surprised me with tickets to see On The Basis of Sex, a movie inspired by the life and early work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
A wonderful and inspiring way to end a day that is only rivaled by my wedding day in its significance to how I live my life and understand God’s work in and through it.
Thanks be to God.
* Photo credit: Garber Geektopraphy