Monthly Archives: January 2008

March 9 2008

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for Lent 5 (March 9)
Ezekiel 37:1-14

Ezekiel 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.”

In part this text picks up on our ongoing (perhaps beaten-to-death) Lenten theme of “holy insecurity.” The people of Israel, in this vision, are as “insecure” as it is possible to be: they have had everything stripped away from them, down to their bodies, down to life itself. And of course the promise is that it’s never too late for God, that there’s cause for hope even in a valley of bones (even dry bones), because God can and will bring newness. An interesting aside is that God’s newness comes through the prophet. The prophet is called to speak, and only after he speaks does the miracle happen. Are we too called to be prophets, to speak God’s words of hope in a valley of dry bones and thus play a role in the miracle of new life and transformation? (Answer: yes).
(RAF)

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March 2 2008

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Lent 4

Psalm 23

1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
3he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Our theme for the Lenten season is “holy insecurity”—that is, learning to live with life’s uncertainties by relying on God’s provision rather than our desperate efforts to secure ourselves (which are usually disastrous). Psalm 23 is a perfect statement of holy insecurity, of the way God provides whatever security we find in life. Notice it is God who “makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.” Notice also that the threats and insecurities are not taken away: the valley of the shadow of death remains—but God is with us, so we are not afraid. And our enemies are still there—only instead of blasting them, God sets a table, perhaps inviting enemies to become friends at the table. As we continue to travel through Lent, and through our lives, Psalm 23 should serve as our traveling song, reminding us of our holy insecurity. (RAF)