Monday, April 11, 2011
Shake, rattle and roll
Skull with Cigarette (1886), Van Gogh
Ezekiel 37: 1-14
Woodmont United Church of Christ, Milford, CT
April 10, 2011
(Ezekiel is calling together the dry bones of the desert valley, except that no one is showing up. He and the spine are having a conversation about the reluctance of these bones to return.)
Ezekiel: Where is everybody?
Spine: Well, sir, not everyone is on board with this getting back together thing, this family reunion you’ve got planned.
Ezekiel: It’s not my plan. It’s all God’s idea.
Spine: Apparently so, sir. It seems everyone else has a different idea and has made other plans.
Ezekiel: I thought at least Radius and Ulna would be here – they’re usually ready for anything. Forearmed is forewarned, you know.
Spine: I know, sir, but they’re still out shopping with Tibia, Fibula and Femur.
Ezekiel: Let me guess…this is going to cost me…
Both: An arm and a leg!
Ezekiel: I thought for sure Skull would be here. He’s always head and shoulders above the rest.
Spine: Yes, but he’s been taking this separation on the chin—lost his head about it, I’m afraid. I think it’s affected all the dry bones the same way—taken the life out of them.
Ezekiel: So why are you here?
Spine: Evidently, sir, I’m the only one with enough backbone.
Ezekiel: But see, it’s not about standing before God in fear and trembling. God is going to knit you all together with tendons and cartilage…
Spine: God knows how to knit?!
Ezekiel: …and forgiveness and grace. God’s going to give you muscles for justice and peace, and ears to hear God’s word, and a stomach for the law and the prophets, and a heart of courage and compassion.
Spine: Sir, we dry bones have been apart so long we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live with God and each other. There were times when words like ‘obedience’, ‘surrender’ and ‘covenant’ made us stiff-necked. If you could have only heard the knees creak and groan when they had to kneel…
Ezekiel: God isn’t promising an easy life but rather new life. It’s not about bowing and scraping before God but about dancing in the presence of God, even in the midst of trouble.
Spine: Sir, do we get skin? Please say yes. And could you make it rather thick? With all these hostile takeovers—what with the Babylonians and now the Assyrians breathing down our necks—we tend to bruise easily.
Ezekiel: Yes, God will cover you but you’ll still be vulnerable—it’s really the only way to be compassionate.
Spine: Okay, so God will put us all back together again—make a body of us again. Is that it? Do we just stand there?
Ezekiel: Didn’t you hear me? I said dancing. I said new life. Weren’t you paying attention? You’ve got a lot of nerve!
Spine: If you’ll recall, I haven’t got any nerves right now!
Ezekiel: Oops! Sorry.
Spine: So just how is God going to accomplish this new life?
Ezekiel: God will put the Spirit, the breath of life into you. You think that it only happened once, back in the beginning? We may all be dust and to dust we shall return yet God will not leave us hopeless. God is always ready to breathe new life into us.
Spine: Great, just as long as God remembers to use Altoids!
Ezekiel: Hey, don’t complain! Anything smells better than a bunch of dead, dry bones coming out of their graves!
Spine: Okay, okay! Keep your hairshirt on! So, let’s get this party started!
Ezekiel: May I have the first dance?
Spine: As soon as I get my feet under me!
Watch the crowd and how it moves to the music, how everyone comes to life as the music begins.