Not one, but two scriptural accounts of the miracle of new life and the wonder of resurrection.
The first comes from the prophet Ezekiel when God takes him to the Valley of Dry Bones and challenges him to "Prophesy to these bones!" and when he does suddenly, miraculously, amazingly enough those old, ragged bones (long sense assumed useless and lifeless) spring back to life. So reconstructed and re-inspired by the breath of God new life is not only promised to an individual, but to an entire people -- "These bones are the whole house of Israel," says the Lord.
Likewise, new life unexpectedly breaks forth in John 11 this week with the familiar story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I want you to take a closer look at that scripture passage (listed below) as well. See if any of those details remind you of anything -- a cave for a tomb, a place just outside of Jerusalem, strips of cloth wrapped around the body, women sitting and mourning, a stone that must be rolled away. Sounds familiar, right? Sounds an awful lot Jesus' resurrection, doesn't it?
Scripture is giving us clues this week. Clues of what is to come in the build up to Easter. Clues that point us time and time again back to the eternal promises of God -- the promises of new life lived in God's name; the promises that the power of God's love is stronger than any other force in the universe, stronger even than death itself.
So this Sunday, even in the midst of the Lenten Season we will gather to celebrate New Life!
I'll see you Sunday morning for worship.
-------Ezekiel 37:1-14 The Valley of Dry Bones
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. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of theLord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 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.’
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. 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. 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.’I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
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.” 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. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 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.’
John 11:17-25, 38-44 Jesus Resurrects Lazarus
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’