In Hebrew the meaning of the name Ebenezer is: Rock or stone of help. Famous bearer: the Old Testament Samuel gave the name Ebenezer to a stone set up in recognition of God’s assistance in defeating the Philistines.
Today we were given this Ebenezer, a very heavy exact replica of a huge look alike on the property of Neighborhood Ministries. The Ebeneezer on the property holds the prayers of children. Kids like those who will converge on the property tomorrow for Kid’s Club, 500 plus a hundred leaders. The stones there are the prayers, hopes, dreams, and unnamed pain and violence of their stories. It is a beginning for them, a naming. Even this small private act gives courage to name these raw things to a person. And we know that the words written on those rocks have been heard by “El Shama“, the God who hears.
But these rocks today were placed one by one by hands dear to us. This was our goodbye. Written on the rocks were words representing a prayer for us. Courage. Risk. Adventure. As each person passed by, they placed a stone. Before it was placed, there were long hugs, many tears, eyes locked in raw seeing.
Here in the desert, in this often overlooked part of Phoenix, we have shared life together. Overlapping three generations now, these thirty years. Neighborhood started as a simple act, really. What if one group of people committed to one distressed neighborhood in Phoenix, for the long haul? We were assigned to this fledgling ragtag group to “grow up” a little. True story.
Today looks a lot like family. Bio family was there, surrounding our boys with tears. Today is Father’s Day, often a day of pain for me. Family can be messy, and this group of people is raw and real. None of the in-the-box church here.
And so I am grateful. Grateful for words spoken, and for those left unsaid. Grateful for rocks held in hands full of love. Grateful that we can carry them with us on the road to Oregon.
I talked with my kids later about why Kit used the word Ebenezer. We had heard that word sung in an old song Come Thou Fount today, a change from the vibrant Spanish melodies.
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
My daughter recognized it, and sang thT verse. Then she sang another line and it sounded a bit different than the one I heard in my growing up years.
And my heart says yes. Yes, to the God who Hears. Yes, to the God who Heals. Yes, to the God who goes before and behind. Yes. May it be so.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and heal it
Heal it for Thy Home above.