With Sunday schedule changes coming in January, and looking for a play on words to describe having coffee during a casual Bible study, a planning team chose “Grounded in the Word” for the Sunday morning gathering in the parlor. “Grounded” was a hint at having coffee (you know, “coffee grounds”), and “Word” of course meant Bible study. Coffee cups in hand, folks preview the scripture lessons that will be read in worship and chat about what God may be saying or doing in these passages.
After the very first session a worshiper told me that she felt much more attentive during the readings, and more engaged in the sermon, having been “grounded in the Word” an hour earlier! The name is living up to its purpose. I believe in this interim journey, the time between called pastors, Ebenezer is growing in its sense of being “grounded.”
However, ask any teen and you won’t be surprised to remember “grounded” has some very negative implications. It is not always a good word to describe what we really mean. Check out the thesaurus and you’ll find synonyms like “stranded,” “stuck,” “punished.” If you in any way have thought those words may apply to us as a congregation at this time in our history, you are not alone. Perhaps you even offered a similar comment in your Listening Post appointment with Dr. Tony Everett back in January (by the way, his summary report will soon be available to you all).
But I want to offer a more appropriate understanding of the word “grounded.” It is the explanation in basic English. “Grounded” is used to describe a person who is sensible and has a good understanding of what is really important in life. The picture I see is inquisitive believers, comfortable with each other (hot coffee in hand), sitting in a circle with an open Bible, listening for God’s voice and seeing Christ in one another. This mental image is very similar to what I see in the parlor on Sunday mornings.
Here’s what I want you all to see, not just on Sundays but on every day.
Ebenezer is a community of faith with a long and strong history, but facing many challenges today. It is easy to think of “grounded” as “stranded” or “stuck.” Instead see yourselves, individually and together, as sensible persons with a good understanding of what is really important in life. And, with an open heart, hear this. “…whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Through chances and changes, hopes and disappointments, faith and commitment remain. The writer of James is right – faith is often tested. But this is also true. In Christ, we understand what is really important. We are “grounded.”