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September 18

Ezekiel 37, 11-12

Something to read

Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, thus says the Lord God: 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.’

New Revised Standard Version

To read the King James Version, click here

Something to think about

If we had been thinking that Ezekiel’s parable was all about people being raised from the dead, these verses put us right in dramatic fashion. The dry bones are in fact living people – the people of Israel living a miserable existence in exile, resigned to a life of unhappiness and despair.

And we now see that, through the prophet, God is answering their laments, their prayers for a different way of life.

For years now, Christian Aid has declared its belief in life before death. These verses are a bold picture of what this means. In the world’s poorest countries there are people who feel they have no life (their bones are 'dried up'), who have no hope, who are desolate.

Offering hope, the prospect of a different way of living, is nothing less than opening up their graves, metaphorically speaking, and bringing them out into new life, enabling them to fulfil their dreams – resurrection from a living death.

Although the language is figurative, the references are very precise: this is no abstract theorising. The people are reminded that they are God’s people, an echo of the language of the covenant promises, and that God will guide them home.

Something to do

Make a list of people you can think of whose 'bones are dried up': refugees from Zimbabwe, Somalia, DR Congo, asylum-seekers in the UK, people living in extreme poverty, and so on. Find out more about one of the groups on your list.

Something to pray

Make me a channel of your peace. Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, only light, and where there’s sadness ever joy.

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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