Being Here

Isaiah 6:1-8; Ezekiel 37:1-14

Sermon Being Here

Good morning! Full confession: I’m cheating today! That’s right, I’m cheating. The reading we just heard from the prophet Ezekiel was actually one of the readings for last Sunday, Pentecost. According to the Church calendar, today is Trinity Sunday, not Pentecost. But I think there’s a message in Ezekiel that we all need to hear as we prepare to return to the sanctuary. We need more of the Holy Spirit; we need a little more Pentecost. That’s why I’m still wearing my red stole.

We heard this same reading last year. I preached on it. It spoke to us then, because it was a reminder to keep the faith, not to give up in a time of uncertainty. Our context is a little different today; we’re about to return to in-person worship every Sunday, though we will still be online for those who cannot attend.

While it’s true that we’ve been back in the sanctuary since October, we’ve mostly alternated Sundays. It was confusing for some. It felt like we were still in exile. There was a lot of uncertainty. Now we have a lot more clarity. Still, this passage from Ezekiel speaks to us from across the centuries.

The thing that you need to know about this story from the prophet Ezekiel is that it was written during the Babylonian Captivity, the exile. This was the period when the religious and political leaders of the kingdom of Judah were being held captive by the Babylonians.

I’ve talked about this in other sermons, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time walking you through all the history today. What’s most important to remember is that the Babylonians laid siege to the city of Jerusalem at least twice at the beginning of this period of exile. The second time, the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and the destroyed the Temple, the center of Jewish religious ritual.

This loss was enormous. The Jews who were taken from Jerusalem were utterly bereft. They thought that God had abandoned them. They didn’t know how to practice their faith without the Temple. For a time, they felt they were completely lost.

But they weren’t.

God continued to speak to them through prophets such as Ezekiel.

That’s the context for this morning’s lesson. God is telling God’s chosen people that God has not abandoned them. God will breathe life into them. The dry bones that Ezekiel sees are the “whole house of Israel,” they believe their hope is lost, they feel that they are cut off from the love of God. God tells them:

I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:12-14)

They will live again in their own home.

Next Sunday, we will live and remain in our own home. We survived one of the biggest challenges this congregation has ever faced. Hallelujah!