March 22, 2020 – 5th Sunday of Lent
Call to Worship
Can these bones live? Only God knows.
Bring your bones, your dry bones to hear the prophecy of Ezekiel.
Know that God is God.
Know that God’s spirit is within you and live!
Let us worship the living God!
Hymn – “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”
Good and gracious God, the world around us is in chaos.
Forgive us for our limited concerns.
Expand our hearts so that we might care for those beyond our sight and knowledge.
Help us to understand in new ways our interconnectedness.
Forgive our selfish behavior as we hoard our love for one another.
Remind us of your grace.
Assurance of Pardon
Nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing. Not a virus. Not even ourselves.
Friends, believe the good news of the Gospel, in Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Hymn – “Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley”
Prayer for Illumination
Open our eyes that we may see, glimpses of your truth. Illumine us.
Scripture: Ezekiel 37:1-14 (the Message)
The Valley of Dry Bones
37 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. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 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.”
7 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. 8 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. 9 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.” 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
11 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.’ 12 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. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 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.”
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Imagine you are Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones. Close your eyes and imagine what you see, hear, feel and smell. Let this imagining stay with you for a bit, and then say out loud to the dry bones…
Dry bones, listen to the Message of God! “God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
Close your eyes again. What do you see, hear, feel and smell?
Who are you prophesying to? Where are the dry bones in our world? Where are our dry bones?
Where does this dryness come from?
STAYING CALM in a STORM
By Elder Gail Banks
Mark 4:35-40 That day when evening came, he (Jesus) said to his disciples, “Let’s go to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was at the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” – NIV
Being in the uncharted waters we are all facing today, I believe we can relate to this scripture reading. While crossing the Lake of Galilee, a storm came. Not just a gentle rain, but a violent storm with fierce winds, heavy rain and huge waves. The disciples were terrified. Can’t you imagine them crying out – perhaps screaming above the noise of the storm to Jesus, “Wake up! Help us! We’re going to drown!!” Jesus woke and calmed the storm! They witnessed a miracle! What a humbling experience.
Notice Jesus did not say, “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” He said, “Why are you afraid? Don’t you have any faith?” With Jesus with them, they should have had fearless peace in their hearts, staying calm in the storm.
Good message for us to hear as we face so much uncertainty at the present time. Jesus did not promise to calm every storm in our lives. What he did promise, through our faith, Jesus will help us to keep calm so we will have strength to endure the storm.
“Do Not Fear” – easily said because as humans we are afraid. Anxiety takes over, worry moves in. The ‘what if’ comes into play. Life becomes almost at a standstill, sometimes we even panic. What we must always remember: Jesus is telling us to allow fearless peace to come into our hearts, knowing that God IS with us. Having the faith allows us to KNOW God is with us at this time. God will give us the strength to make wise choices and we WILL weather this storm. First, pray for all those who are ill as well as all their caregivers – doctors, nurses, and hospital workers. Pray for all those who must be ‘out in the world’ ie. truck drivers, folks working in drug stores and grocery stores, etc. Be in prayer, asking for guidance where we might be able to help. And give us strength to be able to follow the warnings so we and our families may be safe.
By allowing the peace that only God can provide to live in our hearts, we will get through this trying time together.
Let us pray,
Merciful God, as humans we often are brought down by fear. Let us really hear Jesus’ words assuring us You are with us in every situation, guiding us, giving us strength to endure while surrounding us with Your love. Like those in the boat with Jesus, we are in awe. Thank you for always being with us at all times. Amen.
Hymn – “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”
Where is there dryness in your world where you might prophesy? Who needs to hear a word of hope? Who needs to hear a life-giving word?
Prayers of the People
This week, as you pray for those whom you know, pray too for those on the frontlines of this current crisis. Pray for communities around the world as we seek to find solutions to the virus, as well as the economic fallout. If you have a specific prayer you would like the rest of the congregation to pray for, please leave a comment below.
God has prophesied to those dry bones in the valley, and God has spoken to you.
Even though we may be apart physically, know that in the Spirit, we are together.
Prophesy! Speak to those who are dry that they might have hope and live.