I break ground for this building, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May the Gospel be preached, the Sacraments administered, and prayers and praises offered in this place, from generation to generation. Amen.
Sunday afternoon, Bishop John will speak these words as he digs into the dirt, breaking ground for the building of our Mission Outpost on Hoadly Road. In my heart, I’ll be singing:
Here we raise our Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help we’ve come;
And we hope by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
“Ebenezer” comes from the “stone of help” set up in 1 Samuel 7:12. The last of the judges of Israel, Samuel calls the people to return to the LORD “with all your heart…direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” Israel did so, putting away all their idols, repenting, crying out, and offering a lamb to the LORD. Deliverance and peace came to Israel that day, and Samuel “took a stone and set it up…and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the LORD has helped us.’”
These next two Sundays – the groundbreaking on the 17th, and the reception on the 24th – are opportunities for us to direct our hearts to the Lord, praising him both for this significant milestone in the establishment of a house of worship, and for his faithfulness all along the way. We also have the opportunity to direct our hearts to the Lord, and away from any assumptions, expectations, or agendas that may distract us from God’s future for Immanuel. (Remember our call to “Adventurous Thinking”: a God-dominated imagination that looks to the Resurrected Jesus and his leading into the greater purposes of God.)
This Sunday, October 17th, we’ll be reflecting on the “more excellent way of love” that creates, unifies, and builds up the Church – a love that comes first from Jesus, our Cornerstone. During the service, we’ll introduce you to the architect and builders of the Mission Outpost, and immediately afterward a group of us will represent the congregation onsite as Bishop John leads us in a liturgy of blessing and groundbreaking. Next Sunday, October 24th, we’ll gather immediately after the service for a reception celebrating the groundbreaking, with food, a video of that liturgy, and enjoying each other’s company.
I look forward to being with you at both of these gatherings.
Your Pastor in Christ,