Lent V

Can these bones live? 

As we continue in the quarantine, I find this question to be particularly poignant. God asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” The answer is yes. But Ezekiel wasn’t sure. 

He stood in a valley of dry bones. He was surrounded by all of the signs and symbols of death’s reign. He understood what he saw, and he understood it to mean that there was no further help to be given by him. 

But God knew something else. 

In the Gospel passage, we heard about the raising of Lazarus. The sisters of Lazarus speak to Jesus. Martha says, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Martha, surrounded by the grief of her brother’s death, knows that Jesus knows something else. 

In Ezekiel’s story, God tells him to prophesy over the bones, and slowly the new life begins to take shape in the dust of the old one. In John’s story, Jesus shows up only after the stench of dead flesh has taken over the tomb, after the new reality of Lazarus’ death has settled in. But when he does show up, he weeps. Even Christ, who has the power to raise the dead, recognizes the deep grief found in death. 

This grief and fear surrounds us today more than usual. But even when we find ourselves in the valley of dry bones, even when we find the stench of the tomb to be in our nose, even when all hope and help seem lost, God is there. And he’s not here merely to weep in solidarity, though he does. He’s here to give life to these old, dry bones. 

The presence of God in the midst of suffering, sickness and death reminds us that the worst thing to ever happen is not the last thing that happens. God gets the final word. And just as Christ spoke to Lazarus, so will he speak to us. “Lazarus, come out.” 

And while death might rule the night, the dawn will break on high and the psalm’s truth will be fully known. Weeping may last the night, but joy cometh, joy cometh in the morning. And we will see face to face the joy of our redemption. 

Can these bones live? Yes. Yes. Yes. Can this church survive this crisis. Yes. Yes. Yes. Can this community get through this crisis? Yes. Yes. Yes.