May God Bless the reading of our scripture.
This scripture may have worked better for Halloween, but I think in these times right now that we are going through this scripture will show us what happens when you have hope. Right now all around us there is so much happening, There is a pandemic, there are racial tensions, there are riots, people are losing their jobs, businesses are closing, I read an article the other day based on a study by The Cleveland Clinic and researchers there are saying “that there is a rise in Broken Heart Syndrome a condition that causes symptom similar to a heart attack. They said people are not only worried about themselves or their families becoming ill, they are dealing with economic and emotional issues, societal problems and potential loneliness and isolation. Researchers say this stress can have physical effects on our bodies and our hearts, as evidenced by the increasing diagnosis of stress cardiomyopathy they are seeing. The study shows that 258 patients came into the Cleveland Clinic in 2 months with heart symptoms known as Acute Coronary Syndrome or Broken Heart Syndrome. To me that sounds like a lot of people are frightened, lonely and without hope. I’m sure we all have days where we are feeling hopeless, we don’t know what to do or where to go or how to help.
Let’s take a look at our Scripture and see if we can figure this out.
In the year 597 B.C. Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians.
Eighteen year old King Jehoichin, who had only been King for three months, was forced to surrender and was taken captive to Babylonia along with the brightest and the best of the nation.
Ezekiel, a young priest-in-training was part of the exile.
And Jerusalem stood under the yoke of the Babylonian Empire.
Sounds a bit like the beginning to Star Wars.
Anyhow, it was a very difficult time in Israel’s history.
The exiles were a very unhappy people.
War and political conflict had uprooted them from their native soil and transplanted them to a strange land.
All grounds for hope had been lost and plundered. There was no end in sight.
Many think that Ezekiel was in Judah during the last struggle against Babylon, and so there is nothing to keep us from interpreting the Valley of the Dry Bones as an actual battlefield.
And on this very spot—the nation’s hopes had been dashed.
Now, as Ezekiel looks out over the scene, with the bones of people who were not given a proper burial scattered all over the valley, he is hit hard by the desperate situation of his people.
What will the future hold?
Will there be any future?
It doesn’t look like it.
In Ezekiel’s vision, the Spirit of the Lord led him among the bones of the Israelites on the valley floor.
“They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.”
In our own land we still find the bones of slaves and Native Americans.
But we don’t have to look across the world or back in time to see bones in a sea of trouble.
A modern-day Ezekiel may be taken to Any Town, USA, where the local businesses are dried up and the next generation feels like they might be sent to another land.
Ezekiel might walk down the streets in certain neighborhoods, looking at foreclosed homes.
There are millions of places where the prophet could be taken today.
Just look where we live—this community, this country, this world!
We see kids carrying guns to school! And in many instances they are using them on their own classmates!!!
What causes them to do this?
At such young ages, have they found that there is nothing worth believing in—nothing worth living for?
Do they have no hope?
What has happened to our children? Where did it go wrong, where did we as a society, as parents, as friends, neighbors and Christians go wrong?
Is it any wonder they have no respect for us?
If you are over 40 try and think back to your own childhood...
...were kids packing automatic weapons—killing their classmates and themselves? Was that even a remote possibility?
Who would have imagined we’d have days like these?
What has happened to hope?
In a world where children have been abused and abandoned, where adults choose drugs and making more and more money instead of spending time and effort on their children. I know people that couldn’t wait for their kids to turn 18 so they could get their children out of their home so they could go party and focus on themselves. I know people that blame their children for their failures because they think they are trapped because they have to raise the child they brought into the world. I know people that would rather do anything but be parents to the beautiful innocent children they brought into the world, children that didn’t ask to be born, children that look to their parents for guidance, and love and reassurance but don’t find it so they lose hope.
...where is the moral depth?
...where is the humanity?
...where is reality?
...where is the hope?
Everyday, we see men, women, boys and girls—deteriorated physically, spiritually, and morally.
We see despair, depression, hunger, addictions and homelessness.
We see children walking the streets, orphans and widows not being cared for.
In the news we see an endless war, daily bloodshed, extortion, and so much corruption that it may well cause us to look up to God and wonder, “Can these bones live?”
There are some who have chosen to serve at the altar of the gods of wealth and power and have lost their souls.
There are those who have been abused, neglected, forgotten and are suffering all kinds of hardships...many of them are little less than breathing corpses.
There are kids on drugs.
There are crack houses, gang members, heroine fiends, broken homes, people living with diseases.
There are people whose lives have been written off by society as being disposable...
...there are so many situations that seem absolutely hopeless...
Perhaps, in your own lives or in your own homes you are currently experiencing a loss of hope.
Perhaps in your neighborhood, you see folks moving without the spark of life in their eyes.
It may be a bit like Dawn of the Living Dead!
There seems to be no end in sight; no grounds for hope!
But wait a minute! Wait just one minute.
This has happened before.
... the bones “were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.”
Then God asked Ezekiel, “Mortal, can these bones live?”
And with that the spark burst forth...
...the spark of hope!!!
Because, despite all he saw and all he felt, Ezekiel still believed in the God through Whom all things are possible!
” Ezekiel replied, “O’ Lord God you know.” God alone knows!
God alone is the One in Whom we can count on!!!
God alone is the One to Whom we can turn to when we are staring at the graveyard of hope!
And when we ask the Lord for the answer it comes as it did to Ezekiel: “Speak a Prophesy to these bones and say to them: ‘ O Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
This is what the Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscle on you and cover you with skin.
I will put breath into you, and you will come to life.
Then you will know I am the Lord.’”
My friends, we who have faith in the Living God... ...we who are graced with the spark of hope...
...it is our obligation...
...it is our privilege...
...it is our great calling to share that hope with all the world!
We are to share that hope with the children who have been stripped of their innocence, and have no hope...
We are to share that hope with those who live in despair, depression, darkness, and anger.
We are to share that hope with those who have lost their souls, and with those who have been written off by everyone else!!!
We have been having a great time on Fridays with the Drive Up Ice Cream. We are seeing many people come and support our little church. Some we know but many we don’t know. We post the social on the Litchfield Facebook page and it’s wonderful to see people respond, people tag other people and this week somebody said “Let’s load up the car and go”
Our little Ice Cream Fridays are bringing people out, bringing people together and allowing us to bring a little bit of hope on Friday nights. For some this may be the only place they go because they know they don’t have to get out of the car but they can at least get out of the house for a few moments and have a refreshing treat during these hot hot days. For others it might just be a chance to see people they can’t see any other time. Our little “Social Distancing” ice cream evening is bringing people out. Everyone who comes up is happy and smiling and thankful.
Think about this, we started the Friday Ice Cream Drive Up to help us fund-raise, but it has become so much more. Not just for us but for the community.
Just an enthusiastic and non-judgmental “Hello,” and “What do you think about the weather?” brings them hope!
Can you imagine?
Just those few words and this little fundraiser we started is letting our community know we here and we care.
We are letting them know by being out there that not only do we care but there is a God Who loves them beyond measure, and that there is a Savior Who bled for them, and that there is not just a little hope, or some hope—but there is a whole world and eternity brimming full with hope!!!
Now am I over thinking what we are doing, am I seeing too much into it. Some of you may say yes. But for me I am going to say no, because I’m hopeful and I’m grateful. People are coming out, they don’t have to, they choose to and that makes me hopeful that we are reaching people in our community.
This passage from Ezekiel is among the most important in the whole Bible. God had granted Ezekiel a vision of what would take place.
Ezekiel was standing at a point where the power of God was about to break through into history and give it a new direction!
And that is exactly what happened. Ezekiel’s vision was brought to fruition.
Israel did rise from the grave of exile, it did stand on its feet again—“a great army” at God’s service.
Israel did go home again.
The temple was rebuilt.
Babylon, that eternal empire, fell within 50 years!
And more: God’s promise to put the Divine Spirit in them, though not immediately fulfilled has come to pass through Jesus the Christ Who lived, died and lives again forevermore!!!
The message of this great historical passage is that with God anything is possible, for is that not what God does by raising the dead to life again—prove that with God—anything is possible... and herein lies our hope!!!
‒ Pastor Pam