We Rattling Bones: Reflections on Ezekiel 37:1-14 for Pentecost

And here is what we 21st-century Christians must hear on this Pentecost Sunday. This day is far more than the birthday of the church. This is the reenactment of YHWH's promise for a rebirth of those of us who are dry bones in a valley filled to the brim with dry bones. The valley of our lives is vastly more interested in death than the possibility of a new life. In 2015 only eighty individual people in our death-filled valley control as much financial power as two billion of the world's population. Think of that! Eighty men and women have more money than 30 percent of all the people who live on our planet. Surely YHWH did not have that abomination in mind when YHWH spun the world into being. In addition, the top 1 percent of Americans has the financial power of the bottom 50 percent, and the figures continue to grow.

My heaven, we are rattling bones here in our valley of death! Another city has gone up in flames as another black man has died at the hands of police. Certainly, the valley of dry bones may be found in Baltimore, as poor men and women scratch out existences that promise little and provide scant hope for the future. Little wonder that looting and burning, while hardly to be excused, are the results of another insult to our common humanity. Every one of our great American cities offers similar examples of shattered lives in exile from hopes and dreams, while a few find riches and luxuries beyond the reach of the pharaohs.

Until we all hear the rattling of these dry bones in our valleys, any celebration of the church is premature. A church that dwells in the valley of dry bones needs to recognize its own contract with the culture of death and then needs to speak the word of prophecy, echoing the ancient cry of Ezekiel, "O YHWH, can these bones live?" And it must answer not in ambiguity but in certainty, "YHWH, you know," but so do we. These bones can live, and we are in the surgical business of aiding our God in their and our regeneration to a fuller humanity.

5/15/2015 4:00:00 AM
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  • John Holbert
    About John Holbert
    John C. Holbert is the Lois Craddock Perkins Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX.
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