Emmitsburg Council of Churches


A reading from Ezekiel 37:1-14

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. 37:2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 37:3 He said to me, "Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." 37:4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 37:5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 37:6 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." 37:7 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. 37:8 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. 37:9 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." 37:10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 37:11 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.' 37:12 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. 37:13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 37:14 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.

This is the Word of the Lord . . . Thanks be To God!

The Meaning of Dry Bones!

A Dialogue Sermon . . .

P. Hey, Good morning Joe, What's new?

T. Good Morning. Not a whole lot is new with us, just the usual business down on the Farm: Cattle are too Lean, Feed prices keep going Up, and the Tractor sprung a hydraulic leak yesterday and I had to hoof it back to the shop through the mud from the way-back pasture!

P. Sounds like rough going down on the Farm Joe . . , Say, did you read the Frederick Post this Morning?

T. No, I didn't see the paper.

P. You mean you didn't see the story about the Human Bones discovered just off of St. Anthony's Rd. yesterday morning?

T. (Kind of dejected) Umm, We don't get the paper anymore . . .

P. Is that right? I could a swore you told me last year how much you enjoyed keeping up on the local news and farm auctions while drinking your morning coffee.

T. That was last year, . . . This Year Martha and I can't afford many extras .

P. Sorry to hear that Joe, I thought Cattle Prices were bringing in top dollar!

T. Yea, Beef prices are up all right, but Fertilizer and Diesel fuel have actually doubled since last summer! We're in a real bind for cash-flow . . .

P. I "Get that" Joe. These are difficult Times we're in.

T. (Quite stressed) !Tell me about it! Since Martha had to quit work to care for my mother-in-law – we've just been trying to make ends meet . . . and the Farm barely pays for Its Own bills.

P. One thing I know about farming Joe, it keeps you on your knees!!

T. Got that right! And my knees are starting to feel mighty sore!!.... So what about those bones they dug up? Who was it? Do they know?

P. Well, the paper said that the police are working on identifying the person. So far, they think it might be a young Hispanic woman who went missing a little over a year ago from Frederick. If it is her, then the police can at least put part of that case to rest.

T. Do you mean there is more to this story?

P. Yes, unfortunately--the bones found yesterday are just part of a terrible tragic story.

T. What do you mean?

P. Sadly, according to the paper, they think the husband killed their four children and then himself . . . if these bones they found belong to the mother of the four children, then I guess we'd have to say he killed his whole family!

T. Now I feel even More Depressed......... this is heartbreaking.

P. Sorry, I didn't mean to ruin your day . . . . Say, you know, there's a story from the Hebrew Scriptures that talks about a whole valley of Dry Bones.

T. Neighbor, . . , I'm not sure I want to hear any more Bone Stories from you today.

P. This story's different! In fact, it is a Story of Hope and Renewal!!

T. I could use more of that kind of News! But how can death result in anything Good? Or Hopeful?

P. I'm sure you've heard about Ezekiel's Vision . . . It began when, by "The Spirit" God transported Ezekiel to a desolate wilderness. Ezekiel looked over this real-life Death Valley and from the dryness of the red sands, He could see that the whole place was full of Dry Bones.

T. Yea, I remember this Bible story from my childhood . . ., But the whole scenario is also reminding me of last summer's drought, My shriveled corn stalks were like that valley of Dry bones! . . . Made me sick to see the shriveled stalks blowing in a dry wind.

P. Sure Joe, "GOD KNOWS," ...... At first it sounds very depressing– The Valley of Dry Bones is a Desolate Place–Devoid of Life and no Hope. But what catches our attention in the Story is that the Prophet Ezekiel, he got a notion that God was up to something......

T. How's that? What kind of notion comes from such a terrible place with Death and Old Bones?? . . . The only notion I got last summer was to quit Farming, sell the place and get a day job . . . . A part of me just died with that lost corn crop...and living in debt is causing my wife and I to fight and argue about everything, it's just terrible!

P. Understand the feeling Joe, but listen about what happened when God asked Ezekiel, "Mortal, can these bones live?" Ezekiel must have gotten real quiet and thoughtful, and this is the best part, Ezekiel says, "O Lord GOD, You Know."

T. That's It??

P. Yea Joe, That's It!!

T. H'mm. . . I'm feeling a little lost here . . . Do you mean that Ezekiel passed the buck back to God??

P. Yea Joe, that would be a good way to put it. But maybe even closer to hitting the nail on the head– We're seeing that God created a situation where Ezekiel had to exercise his faith In God!!

T. This sounds too simplistic to me. I'm more used to things getting more complicated, like the Hydraulic Lines on that old Massey Ferguson–They're a __!#@! ___ -- I'd better not use that word here in church, they're downright difficult to get a wrench on for replacing!

P. God can be complicated, but here, God's making it easy for his People to regain their hope. The whole thing about the bones is like an illustration God is using. He wants Ezekiel to teach the People that the Day is coming when they will be restored to their land!! God is using Ezekiel's Vision as a picture for what God is about to do — Restore the People back to their Land–This was Israel's HOPE!

T. This reminds me of Jesus raising Lazarus from the Dead. Mary and Martha were hysterical when their brother died. But in John's Gospel, Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again" (Jhn11:23).

P. Then Martha remembered Her Faith and replied, 11:24 "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." What we're learning is that even in Death there is the Hope of the resurrection. Even in the midst of despair – God comes to renew our faith.

T. I can relate to Lazarus in the tomb. The debt we incurred after last year's drought has been like the darkness of the tomb. My wife and I have been very stressed and worried. Maybe God can show us a new way to look at our situation, maybe last year's drought is God's challenge for us to renew our trust in him or even look for Resurrection in our relationship and family.

P. I think God doesn't want us trusting in ourselves too much, that's when things go wrong. We have a tendency to blame ourselves or others around us, which is not trusting in the Lord's ability to show us something new.

T. Do you suppose the bones that were found yesterday-somehow symbolize our tendency to blame others for our problems?? ....... It's such a sad thing!

P. Yea, it's something like that. We have to totally give ourselves and our problems over to God, like Ezekiel used such peaceful Wisdom when he Said, "O Lord GOD, You know." That's the only answer to such a tragedy, only God can know why someone would do such a hideous act. So only God can give us hope to be renewed and to want to celebrate life.

T. Hey, This gives me some fresh hope and understanding about what's been going on for me and my family the past year. We've got to get back to the Lord. I would like to renew my commitment to God . . . . As you know, I'll soon be down on my knees with that hydraulic leak to fix. Will you say a prayer for me and the family, that God would resurrect our faith and our Hope and bless our farm??

P. Sure Joe,

Let us pray:

Lord God, even as you appeared to Ezekiel to show him the vision of the Dry Bones Coming Back to Life, so help us all to experience New Life in your Son who Calls us forth from the Darkness of Sin and Death. May Christ be very near to everyone who has experienced excessive burdens, sorrows or hardships, and may he enable us to Encourage Others with Hope and Faith. Through Christ our Lord.

T. & P. AMEN!

Read more writings of Pastor Jon