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Dry Bones and the Breath of God

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on February 24, 2021

“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 round 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.’”
-Ezekiel 37: 1-6
I usually pick a lesson from the upcoming Sunday lectionary for these weekly reflections. I trust you will allow me a point of personal privilege this week as I reflect with the prophet Ezekiel. This lesson is read each year at the Easter vigil, often followed by a rousing singing of “dem bones.” The reason I thought of this lesson this week though is an awareness of just how fatigued so many of us are feeling. Not only have we endured the scaffolding event fifteen months ago, but almost a year of vigilance in a pandemic. Then last week we had a storm of mythic proportions.
The snow and cold were bad enough, but to be confronted with the very fragility of our power grid (Was I the only one who had never heard of ERCOT before last week?), burst pipes, and water boil notices added stress to an already stressed population. Even if you emerged relatively unscathed, as I did, you probably spent much of last week worried for those who were more impacted, reached out to those who were vulnerable, and carried some burden from the storm into this week.
So, I’m willing to guess that you arrived to the warmer weather “bone” tired. When we gathered on Sunday to stream the service it was hard to believe it had only been a week. It felt like a year. And so I thought of Ezekiel.
When we are tired to the bone, feeling rather dry as we engage in the season of Lent, maybe the question the Lord is asking us is, “Mortal, can these bones live?” And we need to hear deeply the prophetic promise that assures us that the very breath of God will enter our tiredness and step by step restore us. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is sinews, then flesh, skin, and breath—all leading us to remember again the good gift of life. 
Lent for me this year is a chance to pause and get honest with God, acknowledge the real challenges we have been experiencing, but also deeply trust in that prophesy. This week it might be about the house pipes being connected to the water main rather than the knee bone connected to the thigh bone—-but regardless we need to hear the word of the lord! And it is a good word, that promises life.
The Rev. Beth Knowlton, Rector

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