Making it through the desert times
Text study on Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:1-45 Lectionary texts for April 10, 2011
Most of us hear the vivid Scripture readings of the Valley of Dry Bones and the raising of Lazarus from death through the filter of Jesus’ resurrection. We cannot forget that we already know that our Lord has been resurrected. We know that life conquers death.
Even though we know how these stories of death end, we grow in faith and hope as we are willing to stand with the prophet Ezekiel and mourn with Mary and Martha in the depth of sorrow.
Ezekiel is placed in the midst of a valley of dry bones -- a place of death and hopelessness. However, God has not abandoned this place. God is there with Ezekiel. God guides Ezekiel to call upon the breath of the Lord that the dry bones may be raised to life.
As we remember how God commands dry bones to live, we can begin to explore the dry places in our own lives into which God calls life.
Is your heart dry or hard? Is it difficult for you to reach out in love and forgiveness? Do you long to live to the fullest, connecting thoughts and feelings with actions? How do you long for the life-giving breath of God, the healing hand of the Lord?
In John 11, when word reaches Jesus that Lazarus is gravely ill, Jesus does not immediately go to Bethany to heal him. Mary and Martha feel the absence of Jesus in the moment of despair.
Along with Mary and Martha, I’ve known how God’s presence seems far away as fear or impending loss gripped at my heart. Have you known similar moments when every fiber of your being has cried, "I need you, Lord! Where are you?” Or in the aftermath, have you wept, thinking, "If you had been here, Lord…”
We who are baptized into Christ are not promised that there will not be desert times, that there will not be times of death and despair or spiritual struggle. We have not been promised that we will not face death.
But dry bones come to life. And Lazarus was raised from the death we all face. God will not forsake us or leave us dry or dead. Our Lord’s promise, forged through the cross and the empty tomb, is a hope that joins head to heart to hands, a certain hope that death cannot destroy.
• How do these stories of promise that bring life out of death give you comfort and hope in your journey of faith?
• Where do you feel dry or dead in your spiritual life? How is Christ bringing you to life?
Chrysanne Timm is lead pastor of Olivet Lutheran Church in Sylvania, Ohio. You can find a link to her blog, Living in God’s Amazing Grace, at Lutheran Blogs.