ebenezer: what's in a name

As the Israelites were taking over the land promised to them by God, they were led by God to a significant victory over a powerful enemy. As a physical sign for the people to see and remember what God had done for them, Samuel set up a large stone and said, “Thus far has the Lord helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). He called the stone “Ebenezer”, which means “stone of help”.


In our hymn, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, verse two echoes for us what that event in ancient Israel signifies for us as we live our lives of faith today: “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’m come.” Continually on our journey of life and faith, there are moments we, too, can see and point to as times when we have felt the presence and power of God wrapping us in strong arms of divine protection or in the tender embrace of God’s forever love and caring when hard times are too much for us to bear alone.


Such has surely been my experience! If you are blessed with the eyes of faith to see it, our God is most assuredly there with you through all the peaks and valleys of your journey, also. You and I may not have raised up rocks to mark all those occasions; there would be too many. Because God’s presence is forever there with us, leading us, loving us, encouraging us, forgiving us, helping us give praise, lifting us when we’re too far down to lift our voices.


Personally, I came here to Ebenezer Lutheran Church in October 2010, where I served for ten years as Interim Pastor. Now I continue to be so very blessed to serve here as Pastor Emeritus. Here among these saints of God there is palpable JOY as we celebrate the love and grace we daily experience from God in our individual lives and in our lives together as a family of faith. Here there is genuine caring for one another as sisters and brothers in Christ. Here we delight in living into Jesus’ call to discipleship. And here (if you will only be open to receive it!), all are welcome, no matter what stories or what stones you bring.


If you are looking for a “home” where you will be embraced into community and cherished as the child of God that you are (and are becoming!), do come visit us. Like me, you may well find that this “Ebenezer” is the rock you need in your life to continually orient you to the One who is your true “stone of help”! That’s what I found here and find here still today! As I thank God for that blessing, I also pray that you will come to this “Ebenezer” stone that stands among us and find here exactly what you are perhaps yearning to find: our Savior’s Word of grace and hope, the sheltering strength of God’s loving presence, the Spirit’s call to service in Jesus’ name, and the fellowship of a Christian community that will forever enrich your life of faith.


Pastor Bob Young

Pastor Emeritus