It may seem strange as we are finishing up our Lenten journey and wandering and before we get to the Cross to hear about Resurrection. It may be strange or just jumping the gun, to hear the passage of Ezekiel that we also often hear at the Easter Vigil. “Mortal can these bones live?”… “Prophesy to the bones…” In the midst of our fast, before we turn to the cross, we stop off with Jesus at Bethany and contemplate life, and resurrection.
It shouldn't be a surprise though that we do this. Our Lenten journey and our fasting are after all about life and resurrection. Also, in following our lectionary this lent we are contemplating the mysteries of the faith as presented in the sign’s Jesus performs in John’s Gospel. we are contemplating the mystery of God in our midst in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.
Lent and fasting aren’t about pretending we don’t know resurrection. Rather Lent, and taking up spiritual disciplines, and fasting is a time to focus our thoughts towards the mystery of our faith, the mystery of God come as a human to die and suffer with us. Also, it is a time to look at those parts of our lives that may need reviving, that still need the healing touch of Jesus Christ, that still need to fall away and be resurrected.
How does Ezekiel’s vision speak to you today? When you look at your life, yourself, if it were a landscape is there a place of dry bones? Is there a place in your life where god comes to you and asks you Mortal, my beloved, can these bones live? Is there some part of you that seems dead? Is there some part of you self or life or body that needs to be revived? Is God speaking to you today asking, “Can these bones live?” Are you being called today to prophesy by the life giving Spirit of God for those dead dry bones of your life to live, to be resurrected?
Or is God in Jesus Christ, seeking to come to you in your grief? Do you know a God who weeps with you while also offering you the hope of resurrection? In this time of Lent can you hear God’s word to you that death,/endings, aren’t the final word in God, who is resurrection and life. Has Jesus come to you at the point of death and grief and asked you like Mary and Martha to trust that he is life and resurrection that life and resurrection and not death and separation are the last word. In your various grief and loses can you experience God both weeping with you and offering you a way beyond death as the final word, can in your grief or loss can you enter that space of life and resurrection. God’s love and compassion is great, and God who is life does not leave us in death and loss, this is the faith and hope Christ offers us as we contemplate the mysteries of our faith.
But as Roman’s points out death is related to sin. Are there places in your life, which are dry or feeling dead and empty, because of the need to make a change, to repent? Has God been calling to you to make a change in your life this Lent? Has God been calling you from an aspect of your life more indicative of the “flesh” than the Spirit, to use Paul’s terms? But this metaphorical language of distinction between flesh and spirit should lead us to a duality between body and something ethereal and disembodied, but rather the duality of life and death. But why then use the term flesh. Paul can be interpreted by Ezekiel’s vision and the story of Lazarus in the tomb. Flesh is those bones, even those bones that put on ligaments flesh and skin, but before they had breath, and blood coursing through veins. Flesh is Lazarus’ body in the tomb. Flesh is body without life. Bodies can have life and they can cease to have breath, life. We can have things in ourselves that separate us from our life, God. Paul enjoins us to examine our lives and see where flesh and spirit are at work, death and life.
As we prepare to enter into the last weeks of Lent and come to the cross and the joy of Easter, we are called to contemplate the various ways life and death are at play in ourselves, and we are encouraged to let life and breath, the Spirit of God fill us. We are encouraged to live as though life is the last word and not death and loss, we are encouraged to let God come and comfort us in the face of death loss and endings, and to turn away from those choices in our lives the deaden us, that keep us from fullness of life that are barriers between the God who is the Resurrection and the Life. So that we may be living breathing bodies and not dry bones or lifeless bodies, flesh.
Contemplate this mystery of death and flesh overcome by life and Spirit. Let us examine ourselves, let God in Jesus Christ come to us and let us in this examination prophesy to our dry bones, and turn aside from the dead flesh in ourselves embracing that aspect of ourselves that is full of breath and life, the Spirit of God.