Back from the Dead
He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” – Ezekiel 37:3 (NRSV)
The preacher’s voice rang through the historic sanctuary, amplified not by a sound system but by the gift of colonial architectural acoustics and the power of his own breath. “Prophesy to these bones,” he cried, and the silent congregation held its breath in response.
As a little girl sitting in the balcony with my Sunday school class, I heard the power of God in our pastor’s voice, even if the scriptural verses about a valley full of dry bones sounded more like Halloween to me than a lead-up to Easter. I was too young to hear the story as a metaphor. It must be true, so what couldn’t God do?
That voice sounded in my head many decades later, as I looked for answers in a season of depression and despair. I had a crumbling marriage, young children to support, and no job. Who would put the breath back in my body?
I spent some time lamenting on my couch, hoping vaguely that God would make it better as if by magic. Yet the text tells us there is more to it. Restoration is a combined effort. Prophesy to the bones, says God, and the prophet responds. One day I realized I was not alone. God would bring me back from what felt like the grave, and I would live. The work begins when we speak to each other, and to ourselves.
Who is waiting for this faith, this confidence, to ring out in your voice? Prophesy to these bones. Call out so they can hear you and come back from the dead.
Holy God, give us strong voices to reach the people who need you most, that we may all live. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, new from The Pilgrim Press.