Thursday, December 10

Stone of Hope

"What is an Ebenezer, anyway?"

Hymn No. 400 sings: "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." The words are wonderful, but when we come to verse 2, and the words: "Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come..."

1 Samuel 7:12-14 says Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.

The word "Ebenezer" comes from Hebrew and is actually two words pronounced together: Even Haazer. Written in Hebrew it looks like this:

It is usually transliterated as a proper name by dropping the definite article (Ha) from the Hebrew word for "help" (Ezer) and putting it together with the Hebrew word for "stone" (Even) to create: "Ebenezer." The etymological roots of the word, thus defined, should demonstrate that an "Ebenezer" is, literally, a "Stone of Help."

In 1 Samuel 4:1-11 and 5:1, the Ebenezer is strangely identified with a particular site, about four miles south of Gilgal, where the Israelites were twice defeated by the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant was stolen. These battles took place, however, before the site was actually named Ebenezer. The two battles mentioned in 1 Samuel 4 and 5 took place at Ebenezer, but some time before it was so-named.

The site wasn’t named Ebenezer until after the Israelites finally defeated the Philistines, and took back the Ark of the Covenant. To commemorate the victorious battle, Samuel set up a marker-stone, named it "Stone of Help," and thereby the site became identified with the stone and with the place where God’s miraculous help aided them in their victory over the Philistines. The stone, standing up-right, was called "Ebenezer," and the site naturally took on that name as well.

Literally speaking, an Ebenezer is a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the Sacramental Elements, a cross, a picture, a fellow believer, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, God’s Real Presence, and God’s assistance are "Ebenezers."


I spied your entirety through my skylight tonight. You were brilliant!

Job 9
1 Then Job answered and said:
2 “Truly I know it is so,
But how can a man be righteous before God?

3 If one wished to contend with Him,
He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand.

4 God is wise in heart and mighty in strength.
Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?

5 He removes the mountains, and they do not know
When He overturns them in His anger;

6 He shakes the earth out of its place,
And its pillars tremble;

7 He commands the sun, and it does not rise;
He seals off the stars;

8 He alone spreads out the heavens,
And treads on the waves of the sea;

9 He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades,
And the chambers of the south;

10 He does great things past finding out,
Yes, wonders without number.

11 If He goes by me, I do not see Him;
If He moves past, I do not perceive Him;

12 If He takes away, who can hinder Him?
Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’

Monday, December 7

Am I Alone?

I just got home from taking 5 friends to the movies, The Blind Side. (Good reviews from all of us.) It was nice to break our regular meeting routine and to "be" outside "doing" something different. Breaking routine is good. Everyone enjoyed themselves. Brief discussion followed as we headed to the car a parking lot away. I... however, didn't want it to end, so suggested we head to a burger place to get shakes or something. Since it's 30 degrees outside, they thought something hot sounded better. I decided to take them to Chocolati for a delicious hot chocolate...

I hoped we'd sit for a while and talk about the movie, or life or something... but it was really warm inside, so we stood outside (go figure the logic here) in the freezing cold drinking our hot drinks. Ten minutes later, drinks gone, the cold starts to bite, so we pile in my truck and I take em home.

Here is the question. Why is it, the minute they stepped outside of my car and ran into the house, did I instantly feel all alone??? We had a good time... I enjoyed treating everyone... but by the time I walked into my house (only a block away) I felt.... not sure that destitute is the right word... but I did feel lonely. How can this be after just spending a nice time with friends?

. . . . . .......sigh! is December after all