A Scene From a Great Horror Story

1 Apr

The Hebrew Scripture for this Sunday is Ezekiel 37:1-14. I remember when I read the passage for the first time and let it really soak into my brain. It looked like a scene from a horror movie more than a bible passage.

The people of Israel have been in exile. There is no hope left in the land ad Ezekiel is the prophet of God who is given the job of leading them. It seems likely that Ezekiel is feeling as hopeless and overwhelmed by exile as much as the people. And so God gives Ezekiel this powerful vision. [I really like The Message’s beginning; God grabbed me]

Breath of Life

37 1-2 God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.

3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Master God, only you know that.”

I think it sounds like Ezekiel is really trying not to tell God how hopeless he feels. I wonder if another answer might have been, “Maybe you could do it God, but I really don’t see how.” The people are dried up and wasted away, how can they be God’s people again?? I think sometimes our churches feel that way when they have been pulled off the path of living their faith

4 He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”

5-6 God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

7-8 I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.

If you can see these verses in your head, I think it could keep you awake at night. It seems like reviving the people of God is not an simple or easy process. The foundation – the body is made – but the breath has not been restored. And certainly the breath is the most important part. I wonder how often we are willing to stop once we get to the place where we look good, because going farther means changing the core of our lives – leaving behind the dead life we have been living and opening ourselves to the God life. I can hear people saying, “O, yea, yea, yea, that’s what we want; the God life”, but it means surrendering to God’s will and God’s ways.

9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”

10 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.

11 Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’

12-14 “Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it. God’s Decree.’”

So, God is on a mission to “dig up our graves and bring us out alive.” This is a great passage for a lenten reflection. What is keeping you in your grave? Do you want God to dig you up and bring you into new life? Remember the paradox of our faith; the only way to leave the grave and enter that new God-life is to be willing to let the old one die. That old life with it hurts and grudges and arrogance and pain and un-forgiveness and resentment; that’s what’s got to die.

Here’s to choices and our God who can dig us up out of our human-made graves. God says God will do it; it has been decreed. Peace

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One Response to “A Scene From a Great Horror Story”

  1. Nikii Frank April 1, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Dear Mary,

    Loved your thoughts on this passage. I found myself holding my breath while I was reading, in anticipation of what was to come! We all need reminders of what God can do (the impossible!) and will do!

    love, nikii

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