What do dry bones need to live? In Ezekiel’s world, dry
bones need God’s power to come together by knitting
bone to bone with sinews, flesh, and skin. Elsewhere, Ezekiel
speaks of the transformation of Israel through the image of new
hearts. And dry bones need the breath of life, that is, God’s
Spirit. It’s possible that the prophet Ezekiel here remembers the
creation of all humankind in Genesis wherein God forms human
creatures from the dust and then breathes the breath of life into
human nostrils. Without breath or spirit, there is no life.

So through God’s power, the prophet sees reconstituted and
revivified bones that “lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.”
But flesh, sinews, skin, new hearts, and breath of life are
not enough, for when the reassembled multitude speak, they do
not live because they are without hope. Both they and Ezekiel
lament, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are
cut off completely.’’ This is the language of exiles describing
desolation—not just miles off or in a strange land but in exile
in a land where hope does not exist and where Israel is lifeless.
This is the vision and the reality that Ezekiel sees.

But God sees differently. Israel’s exile and death are not
realities in themselves but rather a place where God effects
forgiveness and restoration for the people of God. The deep
connection God has with the people of Israel exists beyond life,
even beyond death itself.

In the height of the fight against apartheid in South Africa,
an interviewer asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu if he were
“optimistic” about the chances of a nonviolent movement to have
Nelson Mandela released from prison and for blacks to receive
the right to vote. Tutu replied, “I’m not an optimist, but I am a
prisoner of hope.”

God of dry bones, may I live as a prisoner of hope. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 11:1-45

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Lectionary Week
March 27–April 2, 2017
Scripture Overview

Ezekiel 37 presents a vision of the dry bones that represent the people of Israel after the Babylonian invasion—the people have no life. God calls Ezekiel to see the devastation and to prophesy to the dry bones with the message that they shall live. The psalmist cries out from the very depths expressing both a need and hunger for God and a trust in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. The story of Lazarus’s death and Jesus’ raising him to life calls forth our own stories and experiences of life and death. It draws us in to a conversation that goes deeper than our intellect. It evokes our questions, our fears, our doubts, and our faith. The Romans text offers the good news that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us. Each of these texts affirms life after death. Death is not the end; death does not have the nal word.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. How has life come to you through death?
• Read Psalm 130. For what do you cry out to God? Pray the psalm, line by line, knowing that God hears and extends mercy and care.
• Read Romans 8:6-11. How has God changed your mind-set, your attitude, to bring you richer life?
• Read John 11:1-45. What in your world needs to die in order for life to come forth?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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