Pastoral Ponderings- Ebenezer- 1 JUN 22
We have all kinds of monuments these days as memorials– whether a tombstone for a loved one, or the big monuments gracing our nation’s capital to help remember our heroes who made us free. Memorial Day calls us to remember those who have died in their service to our country. But Memorial Day has also become an important family day. It was a perfect day on Monday to be Cedar Point for Memorial Day. How such getaways are a facet of the remembering of the day, I’m not sure, but sometimes we make sacrifices for family…
Our son Kristopher had to bring some of his meds, so we ended up at the first aid stations at the park with their very helpful teams several times across the day. During one of those stops, a mom stopped by, already in a huff, asking for something minor they couldn’t help her with, and she left even more angry than before. While I’m not THAT big a roller coaster fan, SOME would say this is one of the best parks in the world– and on as a beautiful day as you could get, with no big crowd, and blessed to be with family, could it get better than this? Yet the mom was still angry, for what seemed to be a rather minor issue (she WAS rathe talkative about her anger…), rather than living in an attitude of gratitude for the blessings of the day.
I was at another “pit stop,” so only came in at the end of the exchange as she was angrily walking out, but Darling Wife, Karol, caught me up on it while we were waiting. Karol had said she tried to share with that mom a little ebenezer–a reminder of blessings—but the mom in the midst of her anger, wasn’t very receptive. In that brief interaction, I had a flash of insight into a lot of the anger we seem to be stewing in across the board these days, an insight about memorials, ironically enough, on a Memorial Day trip.
The Old Testament is full of piles of “memory stones,” in at least one case, set up by Samuel, called “Ebenezer” (I Sam. 7:12), a word meaning “stone of help,” or a commemoration of divine assistance. So an ebenezer is a reminder both of all God has done to bring us to where we are, and a reminder as St. Paul said about his “thorn in the flesh,” that God’s grace is sufficient, God’s power works through our weaknesses, and that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (I Cor. 12: 7-10).
Might the thick soup of anger our society seems to be stewing in these days, point to a need for better ebenezers– reminders of the gift of God’s grace, reminders of how thankful we COULD be—especially on a beautiful day with family at a great place to spend time together? Anger often comes when we lose our “attitude of gratitude,” and think we’re entitled to what we’re not getting, or when we’re not getting our way. I seem to recall someone saying something about “blessed/happy are the meek…”
That mom wasn’t particularly receptive, but what about us? Are we receptive to the need for reminders of how God has blessed us and our forebears before us? What memorials or ebenezers work for you to remind you of how blessed you are, of how blessed we all are, so we can stay in that place of meek gratitude, and be thankful, rather than losing that attitude, and falling into the bitter stew of anger?
While Robert Robinson’s 18th century lyrics may not fit our world so well these days, the intent of his song certainly does: “Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace;… Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come;… 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.”
What’s your ebenezer? Keep being thankful—Rev. Jim