Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Ezekiel 37:1-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’
Can these bones live…? Many sermons have been preached, lessons taught, and crafts made on this biblical narrative. The riveting nature of this story immediately grasps our attention. A valley full of bones. Due to our overwhelming familiarity with this narrative, we often race to the ‘resurrection’ of these bones. We like that part. Dry, dead, scattered bones… not so much. The question for us in this season of Lent is possibly “what can these bones teach us?” Better yet, “what can the dry bones in the wilderness valley of our own lives teach us?” In our attempt to rush to the resurrection, not only in this passage but within the season of Lent – we often forget one important thing. Resurrection is only needed where death is present. Unfortunately, we do not often give people the space to lament, mourn, wonder, question, or doubt. However, in order for us to truly celebrate resurrection, we must be aware of the need for resurrection. So, where in our life do we see a valley of scattered bones? Where in our life do we need to be taken by the Spirit of the Lord in order to see the truth before us?
The people of Israel were in exile, destruction and alienation had occurred among their people. The reality of ‘dry bones’ is a reminder of where they are and the hope that is in their future. We as the body of Christ sometimes get a lot of things right. But, at the same time, if we are being honest – the dry bones are often covered up with more dirt, only to be ignored. Can these bones live? Certainly! But we must admit we need a resurrection of sorts. We need to recognize the need for community, compassion, and Christ-like love. We, as a people of God would do well to remember the One we follow. The One who entered the wilderness with others, amidst their dry bones, offering healing and hope. Can we imagine the resurrection that could take place in our midst if we spent half as much time on encountering others with the LOVE of Christ, as we do debating various ideas and theologies? Yes, resurrection is possible, new life is possible… but we have to admit that we need it and that we desire it.
Architect of Life and Giver of breath, You knit us together. And yet, we often prefer dry, dead bones. A life lived for You and in You requires a great deal from us. Help us to recognize the dry bones in our midst. Give us strength to trust you in the resurrection to new life. May we be a people who love you with our whole heart, mind, and soul; and our neighbor as ourselves. Amen.
Go with God!