God brings life to dry bones
The Common Lectionary for June 6 includes Ezekiel 37:1-14 and its compelling image of a vast valley of dry bones re-animated by the breath of God. "Dry bones! Hear the word of the Lord!" Perhaps you already started humming, "Ankle bones connected to the leg bone ... Now hear the Word of the Lord!"
A valley of re-assembling bones might sound like a modern day horror movie plot -- jumbled skeletons eerily brought back from the dead. Far from horror, the dry bones are an image of those who had given up hope and were, like the bones, as good as dead. Ezekiel was called to speak God's word to living Hebrew people who had been dragged into exile in Babylon from Jerusalem. Once they got to this new land, they were not forced to live like captives as they might have expected.
Rather, they were encouraged to start businesses, plant crops, marry, build families and houses. They were encouraged to become Babylonians. But they had seen the center of their faith -- the great Temple of Jerusalem -- destroyed by the Babylonians. The temple was gone forever and so in their minds and hearts, their faith and their hope was gone. So they coped by piling on other things beside God to fill their time and their minds. Ezekiel was sent to remind these "dry bones" of the house of Israel that God is not done.
We are near the end of Lent, quickly coming to Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. How dry are your bones? Has comfortable, familiar routine replaced your dreams and your hope? Do you ever feel like you are just going through the motions, piling on more and more activities as a replacement for what was energizing and life giving? Do you ever numb your spiritual pain and emptiness by making life more comfortable or busy? Ezekiel's prophesy of new life for dry bones is for you -- and for me.
Can these bones live? God knows the answer. God said, "I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live."
The apostle Paul told the believers in Rome the one "who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you." (Rom. 8:11).
The Rev. Craig Barnes, a fellow Presbyterian pastor, wrote, "The church has always found its life not in what it sees today but in the Spirit of the God who raises dead hopes. The day we lose our ability to envision a better tomorrow is the day we deny that we really believe in the resurrection."
In this season of Lent, as we prepare of the enormity of Holy Week and the Resurrection glory of Easter, may you feel the Spirit of God blowing in you, bringing hope and new life. Dry bones; hear the Word of the Lord.
Celeste Lasich is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Hays.