"Then God said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.'" —Ezekiel 37:4-5
I was once asked why I wanted to get ordained since the church was dying. That was forty years ago. Two years ago my daughter was ordained, and someone asked her how she was going to deal with being a leader in a dying church. She answered, "I don't believe that God will let the church die."
I don't either, because our God specializes in breathing life back into what seems lifeless, creating possibilities where there seem to be none.
I recall the wonder I felt when I learned that the words for spirit, wind, and breath are all the same word in the Bible. It turns up everywhere. It's the wind that blew over the formless void at creation. It's the breath that reanimated the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision. It's the Spirit that overcame the disciples at Pentecost and created the church.
The church is not dead and we're not done, not by a long shot. Sure, things are changing and the future won't look like today. But God's wind is still blowing. God's breath is still breathing. God's Spirit is still empowering. "I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live!"
Breathe on us, breath of God, fill us with life anew.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.