No, it’s not a crotchety literary character in one of the most beloved and overplayed Christmas stories of all time (By the way, The Muppets Christmas Carol is the best one.) Ebenezer is a word mentioned in Joshua. Maybe you’ve heard it alluded to in the second verse of “Come Thou Fount”
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
Basically, an Ebenezer is a memorial. Specifically, an Ebenezer is a memorial to the glory and greatness of God. In Joshua, after, the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, 12 men, one from each tribe, gathered a large stone from the miraculously dried riverbed and set them up like a stone tower. This was called an Ebenezer. Joshua gave the following command:
Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.
The purpose of this Ebenezer, this memorial, was to serve as a reminder as to what God had done.
Fast forward a few thousand years to the modern church. I believe that we are to be Ebenezers, testaments to God’s redeeming power, monuments of his glory, and examples of his grace and mercy.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
– 1 Peter 2:9
This verse tells us who we are. God has chosen us as his people. He has ordained us to be a royal priesthood. He has made us a set apart community, a holy nation. We are his special possession. This verse then tells what we are called to do, which is to declare God’s praises for what he was done for us. I don’t do a very good job of it sometimes.
A facebook meme has circled around the internet the past few years that says we may be the only Bible some people ever read. As cheesy and cliched as it is now, are we an accurate translation? Do we look like Jesus? Are we living testaments to his grace and mercy and love? Do we show those qualities like he does for us every day? Or are we just sinners with fire insurance, happy to stay in the same patterns and selfishness and fleshly desires that God called us away from.
The bottom line is this: we are called to reflect God’s glory for the lost world, and other believers, to see. So let’s leave behind all of the selfishness that keeps us from living that way. People need to see the light we have! A city on a hill cannot be hidden! As a community, as the holy church of God, let’s shine his light to not only other believers but to the lost world!
All this to say, we need to be bolder about our faith. Not so much in protests and Facebook posts. Why not just talk to your neighbors and invite them over for dinner, build relationships with them that could lead to their salvation? Talk to your classmates or your coworkers, build relationships with the weird or the annoying guy in accounting or weird kid that eats alone at lunch. That’s how we spread the light. Through our relationship with Jesus, we can build relationships with others and change lives.
So let’s be that city on the hill. Let’s be the holy nation, the royal priesthood, the chosen ones! Raise your ebenezer, show people what God has done in your life!