37:1 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. [NRSV]
This is a remarkable vision of the prophet Ezekiel for the people of God to hear, understand, and take to heart themselves.
On one hand it is difficult to take one person’s experience and try to make it your own. Usually we get lost trying to be like someone rather than learning from the lessons they have shared.
One of my professors in seminary, Jonathon Jackson, was a student of teacher, preacher and spiritual mystic, Howard Thurman. For years Jonathon took every class Dr Thurman offered, read all his books, sought his counsel in his office as often as he could. As hard as he tried he did not find the same joy and power Dr Thurman expressed and witnessed. He confronted his hero and said, I have tried with all my strength to live and act just as you have done and it has not worked for me. Dr Thurman replied, ‘The Good Lord has already made a Howard Thurman, what [he] wants is a Jonathon Jackson.’
We take the message of others and applied the lessons to fit our own spiritual skin.
Ezekiel is taken by a divine messenger to witness the miracle of resurrection. The Good News we celebrated just 50 days ago at Easter, continues as true then as now. He lives!
Pentecost asks: So what are you doing about that fact?
Ezekiel is taken to the valley of the shadow of death and see’s the evidence of futile fighting our physical battle.. The bones of a great nation that has lived and died and what do they have to show for their lives?
The Great Work is a step-by-step reconstruction of the impossible.
This is the message of the resurrection! What seems impossible, God can do and desires to do through us.
In the field, bones rattle and come together end-to-end
Sinews form, muscles spring out and attach
Skin forms and the lifeless signs of death are no more.
Now there is a great nation of living, breathing, people of God’s making.
For some the image of imperial storm trooper drones are pictured, but this is not just a show, this is new creation shown to be “a people, a nation.”
Without getting into politics, God is forming a nation of God-made faithful folk right before Ezekiel’s eyes.
It is actually the same as a people who have heard the Good News of Easter, but just 50 days later is sounds like old news we’ve heard before and we want something more and wonder why we are frustrated, dying and afraid.
Hear the Good News
We are people of God’s remolding and forming. The steps are being taken to make a people who will not be just noisy rattles,
But a people who will put the pieces together and live the life most fully, the God connect, God breathed, God empowered life.
Take a deep spiritual breathe, be made new
Get up out of this field and go into the world,
He lives, and he lives in you and me.