In the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (37:1-14) there is the famous story of the valley of dried bones that comes to life when the word of the Lord is spoken to them. It is, of course, a metaphor, a story of the very real effects of the word of God.
In the passage God explains the meaning of the vision to the Mortal. God explains that the bones are the House of Israel because they have lost hope. The bones can represent any people without hope. In the vision God blows a fresh spirit over the dried bones and they come alive which is good but there is (as always) an added bonus. God promises to continue to be their God and to give them land. In other words, the promise made to Abraham is renewed; a promise of a relationship with God and a promise of land (a community, a place to call home).
In a time when people answer surveys by saying that they are spiritual but not religious we have to wonder what’s really being said. Such a large number saying that they believe in God hardly indicates a time of dried bones. But such large rejection of faith communities is cause for concern.
I believe that God calls us into community; to be a people gathered; to be a people who proclaim the Word of the Lord. It is true that we need to do some rebranding, to communicate that we are not an exclusive and judging people but a community love and mercy. It’s not enough to say so – we have to be so. We have to be the community God calls us to be – loving and merciful.
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.