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musings from linda 7/28/23

QUESTION: “Can you tell me about your EBENEZER???“ And NO — NOT a copy of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, featuring Ebenezer Scrooge!!

You may have wondered about this unusual word whenever you sang the well-known hymn COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING?

Verse two begins — “Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by thy help I come…”

Your own personal “Ebenezer” is anything that reminds you of God’s presence with you in a specific time of trouble — an object, a place, a person …

The word actually translates as “stone of help” — referring to the stone monument that Samuel erected to remind the Israelites of God’s presence with them in their victory over the Philistines. (I Samuel 7: 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He called it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”)

There is an interesting story about the author of this hymn — Robert Robinson. Born in 1735, he lost his dad at the age of 8 and had to go to work to help support the family. Then as a teen he fell in with bad companions, ran with street gangs and was anything BUT spiritual!

Hearing Methodist tent preacher George Whitfield one night, however, proved to be a powerful turning point in his life — starting him on a new path to becoming a preacher himself. At the age of 20 he wrote Whitfield a letter saying how he “envied the happiness he saw in the faces of those folks in the tent!” Two years later he wrote COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING (click here to listen) which expressed the joy he had found in his new faith.

Years later he had another life-changing experience! For some reason, he had lost his faith and he found himself spiritually bankrupt. Riding in a stagecoach one day, his only companion was a young woman he had never met. She started humming the tune to COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING!!! Not knowing he was the author of the words, she happened to mention that the hymn had been a great encouragement in her life. When she asked him what HE thought of the hymn he responded “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”

Gently she replied “Sir, the ‘streams of mercy’ are STILL flowing…”

Profoundly touched — and as a result of that encounter, he re-discovered God’s presence in his life (an Ebenezer moment!) — through the ministry of his own hymn and the beautiful witness of a total stranger.

Come to worship this Sunday and enjoy Julie Abbott’s and Laura Prohaska’s musical offering of this lovely hymn — and ponder what your own Ebenezer experiences have been!

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