Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hebrew Text for the Feast of Pentecost, 20 May 2018

Ezekiel 37:1-14        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.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

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. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 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.

Reflection        What an extraordinary promise spoken to us, to all of God’s people, through the lips of the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. Who is this prophet that pours words of prospect and promise into the hearts of the dislocated, despairing and depressed? Ezekiel, whose Hebrew name means, “God strengthens” is esteemed as prophet by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike and promises renewed life to all of us.

The Spirit of God does not exist as an abstract concept that we are meant to grasp with our minds. The Spirit of God is the breath that compels the words that spill from Ezekiel’s mouth, strengthening Ezekiel to speak with passion, passion born of the Spirit, the Spirit that gives life, that makes old bones dance. Of course this means the Spirit of God also breathes through each of us. It is God’s breath that anoints our being, the very source of our lives.

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the day we acknowledge the Spirit of God breathes life through each of us, every language, culture and nation; “I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” But, there remains a  question we must ask ourselves, “For what purpose does God strengthen us?”

I believe we are strengthened to worship and depend on God so that we can live righteous and ethical lives. We are accountable to God for how we live. We are liable if we fail to care for one another. Through our prayer and worship our minds are opened and our hearts transformed to receive the wisdom of the prophets and be strengthened to use every breath of our lives to live righteous and ethical lives.  How are we doing?

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