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The Lord Helped Us

August 8, 2013
EbenezerStone

photo credit: Chris Nickels

Last Sunday was an important day in our congregation. It was the day we hold our annual congregational meeting, which is like the start of a new year for us. This context is one where we consider the “business” of the congregation (budget, team appointments, etc), but it’s also an important time to reflect on our life together. We take time to intentionally remember what God has done in us and in our local community.

Our worship gathering set the tone for this time of reflection, vision, and hope for the coming year. One of our scripture texts was 1 Samuel 7:12:

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer, explaining, “The Lord helped us to this very point.” (Common English Bible)

For this day it seemed appropriate to develop a new spiritual practice, a new tradition, something that could help us commit to God and to each other. But it wasn’t something new that fit this special day best. By investigating the scriptures, the practices of other congregations, and the landscape of our local community a direction emerged. The scriptures tell of ancient spiritual practices using stones. My friend Pastor Rose shared a meaningful Ebenezer stone practice that her congregation participates in annually. And our town of Spring Mount is literally full of boulders of all sizes and shapes (including some rock formations with interesting historical significance).

So “the work of the people” this day was to create an Ebenezer stone (“stone of help”). There was no sermon, but instead a series of communal practices that spoke a message. We considered the question, “How has the LORD helped us?”, and took turns sharing our responses which were written on the stone. We sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” And finally we shared in the Lord’s Supper.

The stone has been placed in the garden at the meetinghouse. During the course of the year, each time we approach the meetinghouse we will see this rock and have an opportunity to remember the ways God is helping us as we serve Christ. And next summer, after twelve months of weather have worn away the words, we will bring the rock back inside to reflect on new things God has done.

In our congregation’s 79th year we tried something new. Something which was actually pretty old. And in a meaningful way we were reminded that God is faithful, God is present, and that God is our help.

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