Raising Our Ebenezer

posted on July 06

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
He to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

“Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing” United Methodist Hymnal #400

Greetings, friends, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ:

As for several of you, this past week has been filled with unpacking boxes once again. A few days ago, Kelly and I were reflecting on our many moves over the years and the process of making our home in a new place. For our family, this includes finding the right spot for meaningful rocks we have collected from various places on our journeys as a family. When the rocks are placed, it’s a ritual of “raising our Ebenezer” – declaring that God has gone before us and will remain with us in the new place of life and ministry.

In First Samuel, we hear the story of Samuel and the Israelites likewise placing a stone, in their place a very large one, between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah, to remember the Lord’s presence and help on their journey. Once placed, Samuel named the rock “Ebenezer,” meaning the stone of help (1 Samuel 8:12). Since God is also with us through challenging times of life and ministry, we too need to periodically raise our own “Ebenezer” to establish the firm foundation on which we stand.

A few weeks ago, at annual conference, we were each given a stone, an “Ebenezer” of sorts, to remind us of the foundations of our United Methodist way of life. On the stone are engraved the words: Grace. Connection. Holiness.

In his most recent book, Unrelenting Grace, Bishop Ken Carter calls us to re-member, to put back together, the essence of who we are and whose we are as United Methodists. By reclaiming a life and ministry rooted in accepting the fullness of God’s Grace, living out fully our Connection to God, one another, and our neighbors, and by living lives of personal and social Holiness, we will, individually and collectively, grow into the full likeness of Jesus Christ through all we say and do.

As I begin life and ministry with you in the Uwharrie District, we do so remembering and reclaiming the United Methodist way of life. Each week, we invite you to engage in opportunities and resources that will strengthen our growing in Grace, Connection, and Holiness across the district and the Western North Carolina Conference. God has an amazing future for us in The United Methodist Church as we become instruments of God’s unrelenting grace for our neighbors, giving witness to God’s unfailing help and love. I am very grateful and excited to be on this journey with you!

Growing in Grace, Connection and Holiness together….

Rev. Beth M. Crissman
Missional Strategist and District Superintendent
Uwharrie District of the Western North Carolina Conference