Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Don't Be A Scrooge, Raise Your Ebenezer

For 16 years of my life, I was blessed to live in the little town of Cromwell Connecticut. Like most New England towns, it had its quirks. One of the quirks was the celebration of Memorial Day. Cromwell disregarded the three-day weekend accommodation. In Cromwell, May 30, and ONLY May 30 was the day to celebrate Memorial Day.

If May 30 fell on a weekday, the parade would be in the early evening. The parade consisted primarily of the various little leagues, the fife and drum corps, the honor star parents and the Legend. The parade would end at the town green. The American Legend handed out flags while we waited for the ceremony to begin. The ceremonial speech would always include a reference to keeping Memorial Day as May 30. To rousing applauds, it was proclaimed that Cromwell would ALWAYS keep May 30th as the only official Memorial Day remembrance.

The school year in Connecticut usually runs until mid-to-late June. The children have the opportunity to learn about the meaning of Memorial Day. They also experienced Flag Day that comes in mid-June. Many a year I stood outside the elementary school for the annual Flag Day program. I miss those days.

Recently, I have been involved in another type of Memorial remembrance. On Facebook, I started a group to honor and remember the church of my childhood, Salem Gospel Tabernacle in Brooklyn NY. I’ve written about the church before. It was a Norwegian ethnic Pentecostal church with no strong ties to any American Pentecostal denomination. Its theological ties were to Norway.

I don’t remember exactly my thought process when I decided to start that group. It was probably a day where I was feeling nostalgic. I probably had googled the name of the church. Or perhaps I was looking for specific people. At the time, I probably didn’t think that I was being led by the Holy Spirit at the time.

But I was. There is a Biblical concept of Ebenezer. (See 1 Samuel 7:12) The word Ebenezer in Hebrew means Stone of Help. Its concept is also that the stone is a symbol to call to remembrance the help of the Lord.

That Facebook group for people, who were helped, shaped, formed and grew in Christ through a unique ethnic church in Brooklyn NY has become an Ebenezer. I am in awe of how God has brought nearly 100 of us from various generations together. There is energy to the group. We share and laugh, but ultimately, we honor our elders.

The Pastor of my childhood was a very significant person in my life. I remember him well. He was the type of pastor that poured his life into his ministry.  His daughter now advanced in years she has joined the group. She has shared how blessed she is that her father is remembered. I see God’s Spirit at work as we honor those who gave their lives in both small and big ways to the work of the gospel in that local church. 

Through this Facebook page, we are erecting a virtual Ebenezer. We view pictures of our lives, each one contributing what they have. Excitements rise as a new person is located and joins the group or as new pictures are posted.

I would never want to take anything away from honoring our veterans on Memorial Day. However, we have people who fought the good fight of faith. There are people in our lives who gave their lives for us. Maybe you need to raise an Ebenezer to them in some way. If you know where they are, maybe you could call them, write them, email them, and tell them how much you appreciate their service for the Kingdom.

The scripture is full of metaphors to being in a battle. Today, I will visit the cemetery to pay respects to my parents. While I am there, I will also visit two other graves. One of those graves is that of an officer in the Lord’s army, another former Pastor. The other is that of a former teacher and officer in the Lord’s army. Both gave their lives for the work of the gospel – they gave it all and now I will honor them.

Who might you honor today?


David said...

Good job Joyce. I find that "old" connection can be meaningful as time passes. I guess it is a from of nostalgia.

Sunday I met a guy that lives in the town in CT that I ran away from in 1985. Before I knew where he was from, I had been thinking about how things might have been if I had stayed.

But I am grateful to the community of believers there for what they did give me while I was there.

Tracy said...

I'm attracted to the remembrance concept that you're talking about. Just as we're told in history class that if we don't remember the past transgressions, we're bound to repeat them, I also believe that as we do remember the past good things God has done that our faith is increased. I think this type of things brings about a positive momentum.