Can These Bones Live?

Dear Minster and Friends,

The prophet Ezekiel was once confronted with an unusual sight and God asked him a question: Can these bones live?

The sight was a valley filled with bones: “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 to and fro 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? I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’ ” (Ezekiel 37:1-4)

The last few weeks have been so hot and dry that usually soggy moorlands have burst into flames and open fires have been banned across parks and heathlands throughout the country. The human bones that lie on the valley floor in Ezekiel’s experience have had all memory of life bleached from them, all vestiges of moisture have become a memory, so that even the sinews and joints have been cleaned. These bones served only as a memory of the lives that once were represented – like an unearthed ancient mass grave, conjuring thoughts of horror, regret and tragedy. So the question is almost rhetorical – ‘can these bones live?’. The answer is a clear ‘NO’, but Ezekiel knows that the God of Resurrection and Life is in the frame and so he takes nothing for granted – and so unfolds a beautiful sound of bones and joints coming together, the sight of sinews and muscles and skin, and then the eventual rush of the breath which turns these former bones into a living army.

This vision was a down payment of the resurrection future that was to come, it spoke of the resurrection of Jesus, it spoke also of the resurrection from the dead that Paul made clear would follow (1 Cor 15:20 ). It also gave us a picture of how God will build his church – the picture is painted of the transformation from dry and lifeless bones and turned into an army. Without the Spirit of God we are lifeless and disjointed church buildings and theology, just bleached by the sun, dry and signalling the memory of what once was. But when God begins his work we are shaped and formed, joined and jointed, our blood vessels connect to our lungs, our brain to our nerves, our skin clothes our body, muscles give strength and organs filter toxins…but then we still need the breath. We need God IN us, a people of God need the Spirit of God to complete the process moving of bundles of bones to teams that will confront evil and protect the weak and vulnerable.

Old buildings, ruins and abandoned homes remind me of the valley of bones – for there is no life there any more, just scars and paths that remind us of the lives of communities, employees and families for whom these buildings were once offices, or homes or places to pray and build life. Dereliction leaves a trace on our environment like the trails that snails and slugs leave behind on a patio. Last week I was shown around an empty church building, it had been deconsecrated, stripped of its items…leaving just two dead and disconnected keyboard organs, strewn like driftwood in the hall. They once were instruments used nearly every day to lead the Lord’s people in worship.  A bundle of dry bones on the valley floor.  Can these bones live? I think we should answer as Ezekiel once did ‘You alone know, Sovereign Lord.’

Restoration of buildings is, of course, not the necessary outcome of a move of the Holy Spirit – God is still much more concerned with the putting together of lives, and bringing resurrection to people more than places. At an individual level, as well as a church, we should remember that he loves us, and is constantly at work to join together the body of Christ, bone to bone, sinew to sinew and to fill the body with the breath of the spirit. The Lord builds and restores and creates spirit-filled troops from a rag tag of war graves and bones, and it is our job to listen and watch, but also to realise that God is moving the pieces together, attaching us to one another, bringing our hearts and nerves together, and breathing His spirit into His people to give us His life. This is not always a comfortable process, it can be noisy, we may not enjoy the way he is assembling us and shifting things in our life  – but make no mistake, he is building his church, assembling people from bones, and breathing his life into the people of God and then we await our orders!

So please sing with me, pray with me; for each other, for our church, for our nation:

Through the eyes of men it seems there’s so much we have lost
As we look down the road where all the prodigals have walked
One by one the enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slaves

But we know that you are god yours is the victory
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see
So with the faith you’ve given us
We’ll step into the valley unafraid, yeah

As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive

God of endless mercy god of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter bring us back the wayward son
And by your spirit breathe upon them show the world that you alone can save
You alone can save

As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive

So breathe, oh breath of god
Now breathe, oh breath of god
Breathe, oh breath of god now breathe

Breathe, oh breath of god
Now breathe, oh breath of god
Breathe, oh breath of god, now breathe

As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive

We call out to dry bones, come alive
Oh come alive

With much love,

Frog

COMING UP

Tickets are now available for The Minsterfest!!

To book tickets go to;

https://www.tickettailor.com/events/theminsterfest/177086/

Tickets can also be purchased THIS SUNDAY at the back of the tent or through the events section of our website. Tickets need to be booked by Wednesday 11th July.

We are planning to have a day together to gather as a community with lots of fun activities for ALL AGES!!

Visit https://theminster.org/event/the-minsterfest/ to see Tash, Ollie and Anna explain why they’re excited for The Minsterfest and also areas we need people to serve!

We are going to have a session for adults and children, mini olympics, dodgeball tournament, zorbing, ice creams, a big BBQ together, board games room and late night worship!!
See the full programme below.

Those feeling adventurous can camp overnight, with breakfast together the following morning!

If anyone has any garden games they would be willing to bring, particularly jenga, can you please email Anna at anna.churchill@theminster.org and if you have any board games you would be willing to bring then please email Rebecca at contact.us@latimerminster.org

We hope to see you there!!