The ‘Year of Jubilee’ in the Bible began with the ram’s horn announcing joy, freedom, and celebration.  But, as we read in Leviticus 25, this sacred space was to also include rest, repentance, and time to revisit God’s standard and promises.  As our Jubilee weekend was celebrated at Eben-Ezer Mennonite Church, many of these activities became part of our experience as well.

Saturday, June 22nd, was a ‘Community Day’ with games and activities for our church family and surrounding neighborhood.  While the adults relaxed in the sunshine, the Los Peregrinos performed their famous Latin music, and the children made their rounds to the bouncy castle and play stations.   A barbeque was enjoyed at 5 pm and then we gathered in the gym for story telling, music from the Lao Christian Church, and a time of praise with Crystal Hicks and her multi-cultural team from The Life Center.

Hebrews 13:1 was the verse that guided our thoughts and planning for Sunday morning:  ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’  A mass choir was organized for this special occasion under the capable direction of Hans Kruger.   Powerful congregational singing led by Marilse Stahl, helped us ‘REJOICE IN WORSHIP’.   To see our first pastor couple from fifty years ago, Jake & Erna Tilitzky, participate in the Jubilee was a delight for former members and guests.  Our long standing ladies choir called the Mennonettes was directed by Erna, and JT, as he is affectionately called, gathered the men together to sing some of their favorite quartet arrangements.

We revisited our history in a section called ‘REFLECT IN COMMUNITY’.  On the stage, three hundred carnations each represented a funeral or memorial that was held in our congregation.  Thirty-two charter members received certificates to thank them for their continued prayers and involvement in our midst.  Words of affirmation and blessing were given by Level Ground, Emmanuel Church, and Abbotsford Community Church.  Our third section called ‘RESPOND IN MISSION’ began with a challenge by Garry Janzen, executive minister of MCBC.  The congregation delighted in music presented by the children and worship team, especially the new Jubilee song written by Pastor Reece Friesen.  A video clip highlighted our missionaries: Hedwig & Uwe Stahl with Chaco Kinderwerk Filadelfia, Bruce & Nancy Derksen in Chaco Yalva Sanga with the organization ‘ASIM’, and former youth leader Kristina Toews stationed in Columbia as a MCC and Mennonite World Conference worker.  A special Jubilee offering was taken for the ‘Help the Children’ ministry in Moldova, Transnistria.

Our morning concluded with a message by Pastor Artur Bergen entitled ‘RENEW GOD’S VISION’.  After the hymn ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ all five hundred and fifty guests were invited for a delicious lunch and afternoon activities.  Friendships were rekindled as we browsed around the memory photo wall or shopped for a Jubilee calendar. Former Eben-Ezer youth celebrated a ‘Homecoming Party’ with lots of music and sharing planned by Dave Kropp and past leaders. Our Jubilee celebrations have refreshed and encouraged our congregation.  We can truly say, ‘THUS FAR HAS THE LORD HELPED US’, and as the word ‘Eben-Ezer’ reminds us, we move into the future, committed to this ‘Stone of Help’.