“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” – Matthew 5:16
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:35
That was a good experience! Sunday morning I drove down to the small community of Coats to “preach” at the local Presbyterian Church.
I put the world preach in quotes because I’d rather say I was speaking during the timeslot where there would, typically, be a sermon. I am not a minister, I do not have an advanced degree in divinity, I am not even ordained as an elder or deacon. What I bring, instead, is the perspective of someone who is a writer, a thinker, a regular church member, an everyday disciple.
So, once in a while, I enjoy accepting an invitation to share a little inspiration and encouragement.
The name of the church where I spoke is “Ebenezer.” Ebenezer is an old testament word meaning “stone of help.” So I talked about what it means to raise an Ebenezer where we live – both as a church and as individuals.
We’re raising an Ebenezer in Wake Forest:
Here in Wake Forest our church is constantly engaging with the community through the day-to-day witness of literally hundreds of people living in love, more than a dozen ongoing mission projects, another half-dozen efforts designed to address hunger, the work of the preschool, tutoring, and big splash events such as Walk Through Bethlehem and the Random Acts of Kindness initiative we will always associate with the sweet spirit, contagious joy, and hugs of my young friend Hannah (#livelikeHannah).
What we are doing – what we are all called to do in a million different ways – is to raise a substantial Ebenezer, an impossible to miss stone of help people will come to and gather around because living as a community where light and love and generosity and welcome natural spill out is the most effective faith-sharing tool we have.
This world does not need more judgment and condemnation (we’re all sorry sinners!); what the world does need is for churches (and each individual member) to raise substantial “stones of help” and to demonstrate the kind of love Jesus said would tell his story best of all.
So thank you, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, for listening yesterday, for the warm and genuine hospitality, and for your 100 years of witness to love in the community of Coats.
As part of the anniversary, the church is building a cairn, designed to visibly represent God’s constant invitation to raise stones of help as a community of believers. The next time I drive that way I plan to bring a big one.
I finished with the following charge and benediction. Maybe it can be yours for today.
“As we mark the end of another hour of worship, I charge you to remember that we have been called to stand as stones of help absolutely everywhere God leads us, and that we have this opportunity to be light and love – filled up, poured out, overflowing…
“And, as we go: God’s message to us is always a resounding YES in Jesus! So go into the world renewed in hope, saturated in love, and empowered by promise. In love, and because of love. Amen.”
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.