25th Anniversary Ebenezer and Time Capsule Commemoration

A transcript of Headmaster Philbrick’s Commemoration speech at the Ebenezer as part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration.

I welcome you all to this lovely hilltop behind the Remington Education Center; beside Sentinel; above the Communication Center and Stevens Hall, and beyond Shiloh Chapel. For those whom I haven’t said hello to yet today, my name is Jeff Philbrick, Headmaster of JRHS. It is a joy to have you here with us on this special day.

Part of our Celebration here today is to “Raise an Ebenezer”, to commemorate God’s faithfulness at JRHS over the first 25 years.

Preparing this site for the Ebenezer has been quite rewarding, and has raised the question, “What is an Ebenezer?”

In the book of 1 Samuel chapter 7, we find the story of the Ebenezer, a Hebrew word that maybe best translates “Thus far, the Lord has helped us.”

  • It is a time before the Kings, when Samuel was appointed by God to lead our people: “the Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his Word” 3:21
  • It was a time before the Temple, when the presence of God moved with the people and the Ark of the Covenant
  • It was a time when the evil Philistines routinely oppressed God’s people
  • In all this, Samuel showed God’s people their responsibility before a holy, righteous and just God:

Let’s hear a reading of this section from out Athletic Director and beloved Coach, Mr. Doug Langlois.

The first challenge in this passage deals with the condition of our heart’s Priorities. Samuel says:

If you get rid of the foreign gods and influences, and if you commit your hearts to God, and if you choose to serve God only – Then God will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.

Next, Samuel Assembled the people, I’m assuming it would be similar to what we are doing here today. Samuel will intercede for the people. In Old Testament fashion, he takes water from the spring at Mizpah, and pours it out. This is symbolic of cleansing and makes us think of the NT, The Living Water of Christ.

Next, Samuel leads them to Purify, “We have sinned against the Lord”. So, they enter into a fast, a temporary time when they focused only on the spiritual, and leave behind the carnal and physical needs of the body.

Now that the people are right before God, God has the opportunity to show his power and protection. The Opposition comes – the Philistines stage an attack. Fear is the immediate reaction of the people and they pray for protection.

Our response in this same situation would probably be to gear for battle. But Samuel takes another approach, showing a complete reliance upon God. He takes a young lamb, and leads his people in a sacrifice. Thi is symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice for sin we have experienced in Jesus, the true Lamb of God. The text notes that Samuel offers the “whole burnt offering”, nothing held back. It is complete.

Pause for a moment and put yourselves in this scene. Your family is camped at Mizpah. You know the enemy is staging around you; you can hear the advancing army. Think of the fear – and all your fearless leader is doing is killing a lamb!  And you all just finished a fast!

Just before the battle begins, God aggressively acts on behalf of the Israelites, and fights the battle for them. He uses the other soldiers of His creation – thunder and lighting and storms. Soon thereafter, the Israelite army gets organized, and drives the Philistine army far away.

This leads us to the Commemoration. Samuel erects a monument, nothing really but a series of stones, called an Ebenezer. This is a Hebrew word for “Thus far has the Lord helped us”, at least in the NIV translation, and how we have chosen to represent it here today on the headstone of our Ebenezer.

The story concludes with a description of the Fruit that comes from this action. We should not overlook the lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, remarkably, there is no further warfare with the Philistines during Samuel’s lifetime.

What is JRHS’ Ebenezer Story? Let us take this as our example

This story begins with

  • Repent, Commit, Serve
  • Then Assemble and bring your sacrifice
  • Purify ourselves: our actions, attitudes and words
  • We then become useful to God, but, we can expect opposition
  • We claim Jesus Christ as our New Covenant sacrificial lamb; there is no need to keep looking for other means of atonement. In this, we claim the promises of Romans 8 that are so important to the first 25 years of JRHS:
    • God is working for us through Christ
    • We are more than conquerors through Christ

So, let us raise our Ebenezer, proclaiming “Thus Far The Lord has helped us”. Will you repeat that with me “Thus Far, the Lord has helped us”.

There is a famous hymn of faith we have prepared for you today, written by a British Pastor at the time of the American Revolution, during the lifetime of our namesake, Pastor Jesse Remington. It is fun to imagine Jesse singing this tune in our very church here on the hilltop!

“Come Thou Fount of Many Blessing”

You will find the words in today’s program, and we have more here to pass around. The planning committee has chosen to David Crowder version of the great hymn of faith.

As we listen and pray and sing and meditate on the beauty and truth found in this great hymn, we have reserved some top stones of the Ebenezer, to be placed upon now. Students will come forward as the music is playing. These stones represent God’s faithfulness in the first 25, and the 25’s ahead.

Prepping for the next 25 as well, we will dedicate a Time Capsule here on Ebenezer Hill. When you are done with your prayer and memory card, place it as an offering to God in the provided boxes.  We plan to bury the capsule here on the hilltop and we will make it part of our celebration in 2042. Maybe you have seen the 2017-2042 commemorative stone that we are showing today.

And, lastly, just before heading back to Joy Pavilion for dinner, we would love a whole group photo of all here on the newly consecrated Ebenezer Hill.

Thank you, and May God richly bless us all and our great school as worship Him with this awesome tune.






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