Prepare to Listen. In anticipation of the resurrection, be still and pray: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Prayerfully Read Ezekiel 37:1-10
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. 2He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, you know.’ 4Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6I 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.’ 7So 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. 8I 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. 9Then 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.’ 10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
The word that comes to mind is macabre! The passage reminds me of the old spiritual: ‘Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.’ But here in our Scriptures, a reading for the 5th Sunday of Lent, is this bizarre scene. As macabre as it is, it’s an appropriate word for this stage in Lent, because it reminds us to look ahead to what Easter promises—new Life. We can and will ‘live again.’ If ever we needed to hear these words it’s today when so many around the world are experiencing death and limitations because of the coronavirus pandemic. It feels like we’re those very dry bones in Ezekiel’s valley. We’re the ones asking the Lord God, ‘Can these bones live? Can we survive this pandemic? Can we thrive?’ We don’t want to hear God asking us, ‘Can these bones live?’ ‘Can the world return to normal?’
Perhaps Ezekiel had similar thoughts. His people were in exile in a foreign land. Many had already died, others had lost so much they felt as good as dead. All were wondering whether there’d be life after exile. He wanted to ask God and instead, God was asking him, ‘Can these bones live?’ To respond with, ‘Absolutely not,’ or ‘I don’t think so,’ which would be my gut response, wouldn’t be appropriate. Not knowing what to say, Ezekiel wisely and humbly replied, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ It’s the only thing he could say. Sometimes, especially during this pandemic, I don’t trust myself to give a hopeful response, my faith is too weak, my mind too small to imagine beauty from this mess; better not say much and wait for God to show me the way. ‘O Lord God, you know,’ is the best response I can muster, as I wait, in hope for God to make these ‘old bones’ live again; make this pandemic crisis become something beautiful.
Ezekiel didn’t know but trusted that God did and would do amazing things. Waiting always involves trust, as we to share in the suffering of God for God’s creation around the globe today. Can you trust God with what you don’t know now and let him lead you to a hopeful way?
Respond to Jesus
Lord God, you know that these bones can and will live again. Strengthen my trust, enlarge my imagination, enliven my hope and keep me Christian to the end, loving you and my neighbor as I wait for new life to come from this mess. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world. Trust in the God who can breathe life in 'dry bones.'
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.