Saturday, March 30: Holy Saturday – A Song of Hope and Bones
Written by Matt Benton, Pastor, Bethel United Methodist Church, Woodbridge, VA
Trees with light coming through. A Voice in the Wilderness

Ezekiel 37

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  (Ezekiel 37: 1-3)

Can these bones live?

That is the question.  Not just for the future of Israel, but for the direction of the cosmos.

For, like Ezekiel, we too have been led by the hand of the Lord, not to a mass grave whose bones are indistinguishable, one body from another, but instead we have been led to a tomb that had never been used before to look upon bones encased in a body very recognizable: Jesus of Nazareth, one hailed and executed as King of the Jews.  His bones are not dry, but they are lifeless all the same.  The breath of life has been snuffed out from the one in whom was light and that light was life to all humankind.

And we are asked by that very Spirit: can these bones live?

What will become of these bones?  If they stay dead, if the God-man, if Emmanuel remains in this tomb, if we will have proved successful in killing God, then all is truly lost.  We are forever condemned to live under the reign of death, the reign of sin, the reign of evil.  And then the saying that is written will come true:

By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

 If these bones cannot live, neither can ours.

But.  But!  If these bones can live, then our God in Christ will prove to be victorious over sin and death.  If these bones can live, then through Christ, God will reign victorious.  If these bones can live, we can live in hope that our destiny is not this tomb, but instead the life that is light to all humankind.  If these bones can live, then we know that our God will redeem the hurt and the pain, the suffering and hate, the violence and oppression that sin and death hath wrought in our lives and in our world.  All things will be made new.  If these bones can live, the breath of life will be eternally breathed into the children of Adam, the one into whom that life was first breathed.  If these bones can live, so too can ours!  If these bones can live, then our God can and will stitch together and renew all of that which was declared very good at creation.

If these bones can live, then the saying that is written will come true:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

Our has always been the cross.  Ours has always been the grave.  But if these bones can live, then ours shall also be the skies!

We stand before a tomb, we stand before the tomb, as the Spirit of the Lord asks, “Mortal, can these bones live?”

Sovereign Lord, You alone know.

A Voice in the Wilderness: Lent 2024

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