I think I just may stop talking about spring showing up, then maybe it will stop getting cold! As I write the sun is shining, and it is promising to be a nice day. I’m thankful for small blessings!
This past Sunday was a day of rejoicing and of sorrow at Ebenezer Presbyterian. During our worship service we celebrated the life of Bryndle Romine, as she became a part of the congregation through baptism and dedication. Before I took Bryndle from her father’s arms, I remembered I had a “lifting” limit, since I’m still recovering from surgery. Most of the congregation laughed as I asked Shauna, “How much does she weigh now?” I was able to hold her, and she did great. Love her smile! We also rejoiced to see our old friend Arnie Goering, who was back in town from Virginia, and to get caught up.
However, in spite of the joy of new life and old friends, we were also mourning the loss of one of our lifetime members, Benton King Wilson. If you were at the funeral Sunday afternoon at The Chapel, you heard as I recounted the ways in which he served God in all aspects of his life. Our brother will be sorely missed at Ebenezer. He was the bell ringer; the usher; the deep, loud voice I could always count on to help when my voice was missing, and the person to call anytime something needed to be done. He was the person who came to the church early Sunday morning to turn up the heat or turn down the temperature for the air-conditioning. And, until recently, he and Mary Margaret were always there to clean the sidewalks from snow and ice. He was a strong anchor in our Sunday school, and because he knew his Bible well, I could count on him to find Scripture references for discussions we were having. Our loss is heaven’s gain.
Isn’t that the way life is, friends? Some high points, some low points, and a lot of in-between, and we never know which is coming next. Sometimes the highs and lows come at the same time, as they did for our congregation this week. The only constant in all of this is that, although our circumstances might change, our God never changes.
One of the verses the family requested to be read at the funeral was from 1 Samuel, the namesake for our church: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.” Benton King loved that verse since it referred also to the church where he was raised and in turn raised his children.
The ancient peoples of the Mideast used symbolism to teach and remind about God’s deeds in the life of the community. “Setting a stone” was often a memorial, much as we have memorials to lost soldiers, etc., in our communities, so our children don’t forget what happened before they were born. Samuel used this term, “ebenezer,” which means “stone of help,” to be sure others who passed that way would be reminded of how God had helped them in their time of need. It was a memorial, but it was a teaching tool, as well, for those who would come after.
We each have “touch stones” in our life, reminders that help us remember events, people, and the stories and emotions associated with them. Souvenirs brought from vacations help us remember the fun we had there. Small tokens from weddings, funerals, and other events remind us of those experiences. For some of us, being reminded may be a photo taken of a loved one or even someone not so loved. What are your touch stones when it comes to faith in God? How do you remind yourself of God’s goodness and faithfulness?
As I said last week, it is important that we remember what God has done for us, especially when we are in the low points of our lives. It is important to remember the joys we have experienced and the people God has brought into our lives. So what are your touch stones? How do you remind yourself of God’s grace and love? Here are a few ideas.
When I was in college, one study technique presented to me when studying for a test was to look at specific things in the classroom, then “pin”, or link a bit of information in your mind to that spot in the room. Then, when you are taking the test, looking at that spot will remind you of the information you “stuck” there. Likewise, you can set up reminders in your home or workplace of things God has done in your life. For example, at this time of year we display white lilies to remind us of the “Lily of the valley,” Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice and resurrection for us.
You can even “pin” your memories of God’s goodness to buildings. In fact, now that you know what Ebenezer means, I hope you will pin some of God’s interventions in your life to our building. Then, when you are driving past Ebenezer Presbyterian, you will be reminded of how God has worked on your behalf in the past, giving you courage for the future. Now it doesn’t have to be our building, you can use any place. In fact, why not eliminate any negative memories, and then attach another memory to each building, business, or even tree you pass by each day. Talk about reinforcing joy!
I know I speak for the Wilson family by saying with Samuel, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” And to them and everyone struggling with low tides in your lives, I say, it may not be easy, but I challenge you to dig up the good memories. Excavate all the negatives that are weighing you down. You can deal with them again. But right now, tell the stories, laugh about the good times, celebrate all the victories, and most of all, rejoice in the gift of God, who sent His only Son, who was crucified and died for YOU so many years ago. Doing so will give you the strength to carry on through the times of pain with victory and strength in Christ! Hope to see you in church on Sunday!
Happy Easter and Blessings!
Mary Kay Glunt
Pastor, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
2533 N. Franklin Ave.,
Spfd., MO 65803