Fifth Sunday in Lent – April 6


  • Psalm 23
  • 1 Samuel 16:1-13
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-14

Can These Bones Live? – Ezekiel 37:1-14

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones…
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones…
Now hear the word of the Lord – 


The hip bone’s connected to the leg bone…
The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone…
The knee bone’s connected to the shin bone – 
Now hear the word of the Lord!

door-bell-P1010854I don’t know if Ezekiel prophesied in Iraqi exile about Jerusalem’s follies, or in Israel, but for 36 chapters, he fulminates doom and gloom, opposing glib nationalistic optimism.  Then he gives us a vision: imagine a valley of dry bones in a desert valley. Can these bones live? God knows. This is not a problem to be solved by us!

Charles Taylor’s ‘A Secular Age’ visits the ‘Darwin refuted the bible’ script, and concludes that ‘one moral vision trumped another’. Taylor’s distinguishes between ‘closed or open immanent frames’. Religion (the root of the word is related to ‘ligament’) connects things, with open frames that imagine greater connections than mere data.

That’s neither orthopaedic naiveté nor anatomical ignorance. If you just want to fix your aching bones of lament and grief and despair, you will not find hope big enough to face mortality, just wishes to delay it. Ezekiel is answering a different question, with a different answer, in a vision of a valley of dry bones.  Can these bones live? God knows!

Spend some time re-imagining his vision today, of hope and purpose and meaning in a disenchanted universe of secular ‘closed immanent frames’. Let the sound tracks play in your mind: Peggy Lee singing ‘Is that all there is?’, or Nilsson ‘Me and My Arrow’: what’s the point?

In Ezekiel’s vision, the bones rattle, and connect, with ligaments, sinew, then flesh, and skin, and breath and life.  They don’t resurrect themselves, any more than Lazarus does in John’s gospel.  They are raised.  What if we were raised?  What would that look like? Want it?    ♥

by Rev. Bill Bruce


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