“Old Dry Bones”

Ezekiel 37:1-14

2 April 2017

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches

 

 

Prayer.

 

The prophet Ezekiel has a vision.

Marooned with the rest of the nation

in Babylonian captivity

encamped on the shores of the Tigris,

all was thought to be lost.

Israel had lived courting sin,

and now they were paying the consequences

with defeat and humiliating captivity.

Though angered,

God remained engaged.

God did not abandon,

as we would have been tempted.

God remained at their side.

There still remained hope.

 

God used Ezekiel as a spokesman;

a mouthpiece to all of Israel,

a prophet in the truest sense of the word.

God gave Ezekiel a vision;

this captivating conception

of old dry bones being fully restored

- knit back together -

and the breath of God

becoming life when the Spirit is breathed into their lungs.

 

Though decayed and scattered

beyond all hope of what we would call

any possibility of resuscitation -

God continued to see the potential

of life

in the midst of death.

 

 

Even where human hope fails

divine hope remains steadfast.

When surrounded by nothing but death

God is able to find life.

 

“My people” God proclaims,

not as a disapproving, disowning, punitive parent,

but as a claiming and naming,

benevolent Sovereign;

a loving Parent who never lost hope.

 

 

“O my people; ... I will bring you back”

to the land of the living.

From death to life

you are restored.

 

“O my people; ... I will bring you back”

to the land I had previously given you.

From exile to home

you are restored.

 

“O my people; ... I will bring you back”

to the way you were

before sin tore us apart;

before any memory of sin existed

and divided us.

 

“O my people; ... I will bring you back”

 

Hope comes from the promise

of a new start with our Divine Intimate.

Just as there is more to vision than seeing,

so too, is there more to living

than being brought back from death.

 

While vision is limited by

the surrounding environment,

Seeing,

truly seeing,

goes beyond the limits of vision;

Seeing is what we call faith.

 

 

Seeing allows the self

an awareness of God’s presence;

an awareness of God’s fidelity;

an awareness of God’s aspiration for every soul.

If one does not see,

hope is lost,

killed off by death’s final breath.

 

 

Living,

grasping life for all it’s fullness,

is more than heart beat and respirations.

Living is more than benevolence and good works.

Living is more than resuscitation,

being brought back by the miracles of Jesus

(as Jesus did raising Lazarus in today’s Gospel).

Living is more than

the application of modern science

to lengthen the lifespan.

 

Living

is seeing Jesus Christ

as being God’s gift of love to the world.

God so loved the world

That he gave us his only Son …

Seeing God’s love in the world

Compels the observant

To love God and love neighbors in return.

 

Living is believing in Jesus Christ;

and this kind of living

goes beyond the grave.

Living transcends all mortal constraints

and frees us to

live eternally

with Christ,

in his kingdom.

 

It never ceases to amaze me

of the multitudes who are content

to allow death to be the final word.

 

 

The attitude

“The world is going to hell in a handbasket”

is so utterly foreign and fatalistic

that I can not even begin to comprehend

such depressive thoughts.

 

These are the people

Who believe in a Gospel of scarcity,

Who only see a landscape of limited resources,

Who are content to allow any and every barrier

To keep them from making progress in a spiritual journey

To the heart of God.

 

These are the people

who see a pile of old dry bones

and only see

the rotted remains of a corps,

decaying, cold death.

They never see life,

the life that was lived,

or the potential

of the eternal life

that God is recreating

when He makes these old dry bones come together,

knit with sinew and flesh,

and have the breath of the Holy Spirit

breathed into lifeless lungs.

 

It never ceases to amaze me

 

 

that ancient institutions

can become so deeply wed to old dry bones

that war is justified

by those who follow Moses, Allah, or Christ.

We bury those old bones

with the pageantry of doctrine, violence and oppression.

We speak peace

while arming to the teeth.

We proclaim justice

while practicing segregation.

We pray for unity,

while digging in.

We espouse equality

while lying, cheating, and hoarding our way to the top

makes of ourselves

detestable hypocrites,

bent on preserving those old dry bones,

instead of delivering those bones

for God to transform

and create new life.

 

 

Living is believing

that God isn’t done even with old dry bones.

 

Living is believing

that God isn’t done even with old dry bones.

All John’s stories end with belief:

the man born blind,

the woman at the well,

those fed in the desert;

every miracle is an opportunity

for Jesus to give sight to the blind

and belief to the living.

 

I do not believe in Jesus

because I have witnessed miracles,

though, I must truthfully say,

I have witnessed countless miracles

stemming from God’s intervention.

 

 

I believe in Jesus because

I know there are other worlds beyond

what can merely be seen or experienced.

 

I believe in Jesus because

I know old, empty pews/chairs

Will one day be filled again.

Churches will rise up

Because no one can resist

being claimed by the name of Jesus.

Faith will resume its growth curve

And Christ will once again spread throughout this land.

 

I believe in Jesus because

Light wins over darkness.

Life wins over death.

Love wins all the time.

 

I believe in Jesus because

I know there are old dry bones

surrounding us in the here and now.

These old dry bones

have a story to tell,

a witness to share,

a heart to open.

I have every expectation

new life will be breathed into these old bones

and life will be restored

in the world to come.

 

I believe in Jesus because

I know that one day,

my old, creaky bones

will fail to support mortal life.

Yet I also know

These old bones

will become the essence for God

to raise me up on eagle’s wings,

to fill me with the breath of the Spirit,

and lead me home into eternal life.

 

 

Living is believing in Jesus Christ;

and this kind of living

is eternal.

Life lived in Christ

goes beyond the grave.

 

Open your eyes

and begin to see with more than mere vision.

Open your mind

and know that living is more than

the treadmill of family, job, and paycheck.

Open your heart

and allow your old bones to

live again,

live eternally,

with Christ,

in His kingdom.

Amen.