“Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people … I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil” (vv. 12-14).
Most of us have heard this story before. The Prophet Ezekiel stands in a valley full of dry bones and God asks him, “Mortal, can these bones live?” Ezekiel replies, “O Lord God, you know.” But Ezekiel’s uncertainty gives way to action as he speaks the words that God gives to him. Ezekiel prophesies, and as he prophesies, sinews, flesh, and skin come over the bones, and breath fills the lungs of the people. A mass grave becomes a living multitude through the power of God.
This story must have been powerful for its original audience: Israelites in exile in Babylon. Their culture, their religion, their homeland, and their lives were all in danger. Their future looked hopeless, like a valley of dry bones. But Ezekiel spoke to them of God’s promise of renewal and return. Many years later, followers of Jesus must have remembered this sacred text as they began to trust that Jesus had found new life.
Have you ever had a dry time, in which all hope seems gone? Have you travelled to a valley of bones with someone that you love? Has your heart been broken by reports of the suffering of strangers? God promises us, more than once, that this is not the end of the story. Even dry bones can live.
God, we call to you from the grave. Pour your spirit on us, and help us live.
Put your spirit within us, and help us hope. Amen.