To Laugh Joyfully Also

EBENEZER

We need silliness, joy, and laughter.

In times of collective stress and anxiety, we human beings crave moments of levity as well. Thankfully, these can often find us, even if we’re not particularly looking for them.

I am one of the administrators of a large Facebook group called Young PC(USA) Leaders. This group has about 1800 people in it who are leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) under the age of 40. Yesterday, I asked a question which turned into a hilarious conversation:

Here’s a community question for some laughter today. I’d love to hear your stories about this:

What are things you learned incorrectly about church or the Bible etc. as children, that make you laugh now as adults? Maybe you just assumed something and later discovered it wasn’t exactly so? Or maybe someone taught you something kind of ridiculous?

The answers did not disappoint!

This group is a confidential one, so I won’t share the comments of others, but people offered so many wonderful reflections of silly associations they made as children. Sometimes, they didn’t figure out the real connections until much later.

I wonder if you have stories like this? Maybe they can invite your laughter today.

I’ll tell you one of mine.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, and we used to frequently sing the hymn, “Come Thou Fount.” Do you know it?

It starts with this verse:

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of God’s unchanging love.

Then, the next verse, talks about an . . . Ebenezer. What might that be?

Here I raise my 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.

(P.S. Blood language in hymns kind of freaks me out. But anyway. . . )

When I was a kiddo, I had no idea what an Ebenezer was or why we should raise ours.

And since it was always capitalized, I assumed it must obviously be a person. And here’s where it gets ridiculous and very childlike. . .I somehow confused Ebenezer with Rumpelstiltskin. Why? I’m not sure. Long, quirky sounding names, perhaps?

Every single time we would sing this, I would picture raising a little, curmudgeony elf.

SO SILLY!

Now as an adult, every time I sing this hymn, I always think of this, and just about every time, I get the church giggles.

So you can imagine how much I loved it when last Sunday, I showed up to do pulpit supply in a Presbyterian Church and someone had put a note into the bulletin to explain what an Ebenezer was (see the photo above). I learned this years ago, thankfully, and have not persisted in raising little, curmudgeony elves in my mind (well, except I have because I want to laugh!) but an Ebenezer is actually a set of stones raised in praise to God.

Or is it?

Renee Roederer

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