Today’s reflection is based on Ezekiel 37, from the Second Sunday of Advent on December 10.
This text is one of restoration and hope. A vision of a valley of dry bones is one that the prophet Ezekiel had during the time when he and the people in exile were feeling disconnected from the land they called home, from the people back home, from one another, and were desperate to have life, they were feeling lifeless and hopeless.
Hydration is important for the body and mind to be able to function and live. When dehydration sets in, and the body becomes dehydrated, it becomes a matter of days in which ones life could end if not cared for and/or restored.
When the body becomes dehydrated, it begins to breakdown and eventually wastes away and dies, and after some time, decomposes, leaving only the bones, they too become dry, brittle, and disconnected. When bones are disconnected and lifeless, they are not able to do anything. They are not able to live, to thrive, to move, … nothing.
This, is how it appears that the entire house of Israel feels. As they continue in captivity, they have lost hope, their world has been turned upside down, they are hopeless and lifeless. They are feeling dead and disconnected from one another, from their homeland, from God. Their spirit has been defeated, their will for living has been depleted. In the beginning, they had the fight, the determination to stand firm, to remain faithful, to remain true and hopeful, but as time went on, the hits just kept coming as they remained in captivity. They were expected to be ok with the change in their world, in their community, as this happens, the weariness, dead like symptoms begin to set in.
The question was will these bones, will these dead and lifeless forms ever rise to walk and live again? Will these people who are just going through the motions, living like zombies, with no purpose, with no desire to thrive, with no passion ever live and breathe and move again? Ezekiel’s responds “Only you know this answer o Lord”. And God tells him to speak the words of the Lord, to speak the words of hope and promise, and watch. What Ezekiel sees next is God breathing life into the bones…as God breathed life, the body begins to come together to reform and reconnect and as God breathed life into the bones, they came alive! God kept breathing, it was God’s breath…ruach, wind, breathe, Spirit of life. It was as if Ezekiel needed to see God breathing not just life, not just resuscitating the bones so they came back to life, but rather resurrecting them to full restoration, to full life, so that they might thrive and be fully active and live their lives to the fullest as God intended with a light in their heart and eyes.
The body was reforming and began to show signs of life! But it wasn’t fully complete until God continued to breath ruach…wind, breathe and spirit of life…the house of Israel would be restored in body, mind and spirit.
I wonder, in this season of Advent, in this season of waiting…Where are you feeling disconnected? Where are you feeling dehydrated and lifeless? Where are you feeling brittle and weary?
Maybe in this holiday season, maybe in your spiritual faith journey maybe you are feeling disconnected from the world, from your family, from your friends, maybe you’re just tired. And want to ask the question if you’ll ever feel whole again, I invite you to remember the answer, rather than the question… remembering that regardless of where we are, God remains faithful and steadfast, and only God knows…and God in God’s faithfulness will breath new life into your very being.
This vision Ezekiel had, speaks to the body of Christ as a whole. I wonder, as I read this vivid imagery of the body being reformed and reborn, to rise up and not just survive, but to thrive. The church as a whole, is at a point where some are dying, some are dead, some are living and going through the motions lifeless…and some are thriving. Regardless God will remain faithful, the church will continue to be the church and only God knows how long and what it will take – the breath of God will be breathed into the body, and the body will be reforming and transforming and continue to live.
I wonder…as the body is reformed and transformed…where are we collectively as a body? Are we feeling lifeless? Weary? Are we together starting to allow the breath of God, the Word of the Lord to reform and transform our lives and this place? Are we starting to get up and walk around, or are we filled with a sense of purpose and passion? With life and love?
It seems that this scripture is timely on this second Sunday of Advent in which we are watching tensions continue to rise and angst settle in in the Middle East, especially after this week. Timely in the sense that the world seems weary, the world seems disconnected and dehydrated … and we can only respond with “Only God knows” but while we wait, we don’t just sit and wait and watch, … because it is as if God is leaning over and whispering to us, the church, speak the words of the Lord to these bones, keep speaking and tell the world of my faithfulness, of my love, of my promises, tell the world of the hope and peace and wholeness I will bring.
How can we be God’s breathe of life in this world? How can we bring the word of the Lord and the promises of the hope and peace of Jesus Christ into the world?
Maybe it is through sitting with someone who is lonely and struggling, or grieving. Maybe through a hug or a smile. A hand-written note, or welcoming someone that might wonder if they are in the right place. Maybe when we see someone outside in the cold, it is noticing their shoes or lack of coat…and then providing. Maybe it is creating a warm space for people to feel the warmth of God’s love and hope.
There are some obvious places and times in which we are able to see watch and see hopelessness and despair…we only need to be attentive and then willing to be God’s breath into the world… sometimes we are hesitant because we aren’t sure what to do or say…but God is breathing life and spirit into you…we only need to be willing and faithful.
This Advent season, as we wait and prepare, as we anticipate and hope for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus Christ, as we wait may we be watchful for opportunities, individuals to not only receive the breath of God so we might live, but also that we might be the breath of God into the world that needs the hope and promise of peace that Jesus Christ brings.