A Devotion for Saturday, March 28, 2020
Ezekiel 37:1-14 (NRSV)
1 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. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 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.” 7 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. 8 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.
9 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.” 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
11 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.’ 12 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. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 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.”
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. “
At times our lives may feel like a valley of dry bones: scattered pieces, disjointed, strewn across the landscape, lacking connective tissue. Failed marriages. Children estranged from their parents. The lure of wealth that leaves us spiritually exhausted. The sheer cruelty of how human beings treat each other.
This was the condition of the nation of Israel in Ezekiel’s day. No one listened to his prophecy about ho w the people had turned away from God. But he wanted them to know anyway that God had not turned away from them. So through Ezekiel but utterly without their agency – the people did nothing to warrant this – the bones of the lost people were reconnected, God’s breath came into them again, and they were restored.
God is always active in our lives in ways we will never know or understand. Even when we are tempted to give up on God, God never gives up on us.
Life-giving God, bring comfort and hope to all who think they have nothing left to give. Amen.
Luke 24:44-49 (NRSV)
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Jesus is in his last moments with his disciples. He has died, he has risen, and is about to ascend to the Father. Here he gives his kind of last-minute instructions to the disciples. We could say it’s Luke’s “Great Commission” statement. In Matthew it’s, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …” In Luke, it’s “You are witnesses of these things.” And behind that witness, the “why” to Jesus’ suffering and death, are his words “that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.” That’s the message the disciples are to proclaim “to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.”
We too are disciples, followers, of Jesus – even if we might not see ourselves in company with Peter and John and James and those who walked with him during his time and ministry on earth – even if we haven’t had a dramatic life-changing experience like Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. In our Baptism we were adopted into God’s family, through Jesus Christ, gifted with faith and the presence and gifts of the Holy Spirit – we became followers, disciples, of Jesus, connected to his death and life. So we have a message to proclaim.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “forgive us our sins (trespasses) as we forgive those who have sinned (trespassed) against us.” We have been forgiven, and continue to live in that gift every day, seeking and receiving that gift of grace. So we have a message of Good News to share – come to Jesus, and find forgiveness and life. We may not proclaim it to “all nations,” but we can proclaim, share, it where we are – in our community, in our work place, in our places of learning, in our places of recreation and activity; and in these days, as we connect in different ways by phone, email or social media.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,
so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened,
you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,
– Ephesians 1:17-18a (NRSV)
Blessings & Peace,