Recently I’ve written about the history of our church, founded around the same time as Greenfield itself. In its early days Ebenezer was a mainstay in the community; its building being the location where many other congregations also worshiped. Today we are just one church among many, and we, although 170 years old, struggle, as do many small churches, with God’s plan for our future and what we will be “when we grow up.” We have to ask ourselves, is God done with us or is there more for us to do besides waiting for the end?
There were many times in the Apostle Paul’s life when he could have just given up. Below are just a few.
The ninth chapter of the Book of Acts tells us of Saul’s (thereafter Paul) conversion, but how the Jews set out to kill him and the were afraid of him. He became a man without a “family,” per se. Paul could have easily become disillusioned about his new faith and calling. He could have said, “Who needs them?” But he chose to be faithful. Paul had many successes in his ministry through the years, but it wasn’t all fun and games and great revival.
Acts 16 tells of Paul’s imprisonment for setting free a slave girl who was possessed. In Thessalonica, likewise, rioters sought to beat Paul and Silas, but instead dragged his host and some others out of the house while Paul and Silas were sent away secretly. A few years later Paul was attacked by a riotous mob in Ephesus. Acts 21 tells us that Paul was arrested in Jerusalem , chained, and tried before the Sanhedrin and Roman officials. He was transported to Rome to appear before the emperor. He was in a shipwreck and then bitten by a poisonous snake, and yet lived. He spent time in a Roman prison, and then under house arrest, where he preached Jesus continually.
How is this pertinent to Ebenezer’s 170th anniversary? I see several correlations. First of all, in 170 years the congregation of Ebenezer has been faithful to the call to be a place for preaching of the Word of God, a place where people can find salvation for their souls and rest for their weary hearts. As can be seen from previous articles, however, ministry at Ebenezer, as with any congregation, was not always peace and serenity. Clashes from within and without occurred, and the congregation was tried and tested.
Secondly, at any point Paul could have said, “I’ve had enough; this just isn’t worth it.” But he did just the opposite, stating, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear” (Philippians 1:12-15). He said this because, “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
I am not comparing the momentary troubles we as a congregation have experienced as equaling those of the Apostle Paul. But the parallel is that, through valley or mountaintop, God has been with us, and will continue to be so. Thus the question, “Where do we go from here?” We have chosen to continue the journey, to proclaim the Word of God, Christ crucified, and to be a lighthouse for those in the dark.
We at Ebenezer hope you will join us this weekend as we commemorate the past 170 years of ministry here, but more so, we hope you will consider joining us on our journey. Perhaps you have had a bad experience in church, maybe even at our church, and have given up on the institution. If so, I am asking you today to come and see what God is doing among us. Perhaps you feel that God has not heard your prayers, that you are alone on your journey. I am asking you to come and join us. Maybe you have not even met our Savior Jesus Christ. You don’t know the beauty of receiving complete, unconditional love and forgiveness. I am definitely asking you to come and join us.
We are not perfect—far from it! We don’t have the best and aren’t bursting at the seams, but we do have this one thing: We believe in the Word of God and Jesus Christ, God’s Son who died for our sins and gives us forgiveness and eternal life. We are looking for people who are excited about the journey, who want to know the joy and peace of serving God. We are looking for people who know nothing of the journey, people who are hurting and seeking peace and healing. Come, hear what God has for you. Receive healing for your spirit and your soul and join us as we travel on.
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church