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September 14

Ezekiel 37, 1-3

Something to read

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’

New Revised Standard Version

To read the King James Version, click here

Something to think about

'Can these bones live?' Those could have been the words of the apostle Thomas when he heard that Jesus had appeared to the other disciples in his absence. Or they could be the words of anyone who has watched someone die: the spark goes out and the person we knew is no longer there. Is that a process that can really be reversed?

Yet it is not us asking the question, but God. So the prophet is open to giving a different answer that is far short of a direct 'no', even though he is not contemplating a recently dead body but an endless dump of dry old bones – a landscape of utter desolation.

What is more, the prophet can’t be said to be looking on the scene with complete objectivity. He has been 'brought out' by the Spirit. And when the Spirit goes into action, real change is in the air. Just think of the Book of Acts and all the extraordinary activities of the Holy Spirit recounted there.

The prophet is aware of the Spirit’s power in showing him the scene in the first place, so his only possible response to the question is a simple one: 'God, you know, I have no idea.'

Something to do

Think of somewhere you know that’s run down: an urban wasteland, an overgrown patch in a garden or allotment. Do something to improve it – clear a few weeds or sow some seeds. Ask yourself, can these bones live?

Something to pray

Lord God, may I be ready to bend my will to yours: ready to be led by your Spirit, ready to hear your voice, ready to admit that your knowledge of life and death is far greater than I can ever understand. And being ready, may I respond in faith.  Amen.

Today's contributor is the Rev Dr Paula Clifford, a former Head of Theology for Christian Aid, now Vicar of Minster Lovell in the Anglican Oxford Diocese, and Oxford Deanery Mission Enabler.


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