Service for the 5th Sunday in Lent.
Call to Worship
In the valley of bones,
the Lord comes to bring life.
In the valleys of our lives,
the Lord comes to bring life.
Come Lord and breathe on us today,
Inspiring us to live in your Spirit,
and in you love.
Inspire our worship
as we gather in your name
Readings : Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:1-45
Today is the 5th Sunday in Lent, and the Lenten journey this year has been full of twists and turns.
We began the journey worshipping together in the sanctuary, enjoying being physically with each other.. Little did we know that things would change so quickly.
Now we are faced with LOCK DOWN.
All the things we took so easily for granted in the past have been stripped away, and we are left wondering how much things will have changed when we do come together again.
Some aspects of life will have changed forever, other things will be as ever they were.
If like me, you are still able to get out for a walk, you will be seeing little glimpses of Spring, and we just a little hint, of Easter on the horizon, and in two weeks we shall join our voices together to proclaim “He is risen!, He is risen indeed!
But we’re not there yet...........
Still two weeks to go, including the walk through Holy Week.
However our readings for the 5th Sunday in Lent do point us to the Resurrecting power of God.
The readings show Ezekiel standing before the valley of the dry bones, and Jesus calling Lazarus out of his tomb.
Ezekiel is called up by God, given a vision of a deep valley filled with bones.
This is Israel, he’s told.
These are the people of God. All dried up and parched.
Dismantled, lying down, without life, without hope.
But the Lord is not finished with them.................
“Prophesy to these bones,” Ezekiel is told. “Say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.”
And there before his eyes, something amazing happened: A noise, a rattling. Sinews, and ligaments and tendons. Muscle and skin. Eyes flicker to life. Spines straighten. Hand and feet touch the ground again.
The bones come together and flesh appears on them. And they’re filled with God’s breath. And they walk. Dry bones now full of life.
And then we’ve got this other story. Jesus’ friend Lazarus is sick. And he takes a little too long to get there. Lazarus is dead. In the tomb. And it’s already been four days.
The two sisters, Martha and Mary, think it is the end for their brother, but not Jesus. He stands at the threshold of the tomb. And with a loud, clear voice he commands: “Lazarus, come out.”
These two stories are not the same as a resurrection. It’s not yet Easter, after all, and yet they give us hope.
And through these stories, Christ’s resurrection is starting to come into focus.
And it is something different.
Something more powerful.
Jesus emerges from his tomb different, glorified, beyond the limits of our understanding.
In two weeks we shall shout out once again Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!
It is still a great mystery to us.
But, we will begin to ponder anew how God can and does turn things around.
New life can come from the dust and ashes of death.
There are times in our lives when God takes something dry and broken and forgotten in our lives and restores it, puts it all back together, puts flesh on it, breathes new life into it.
And there are times in our lives when Jesus and those we love stand at the entrance to whatever tomb we’re lying in and call us—command us—to come out; waiting to welcome us back to the world of the living.
. Resurrection doesn’t just happen on Easter Sunday. It is happening today, at this moment, in the body of Christ, and out there in our communities. Even when we’ve lost all hope.
As we prepare to begin that journey with Jesus next Sunday through the streets of Jerusalem, as we shout our hosannas, as we wash one another’s feet or hands, as we gather around the cross and remember the sacrifice—we remember that there is always life in the midst of death…these bones do live.
Jesus gives us the ability, the imagination, to see the possibilities in the world. We have hope that though things may seem dried up, though it may be a pile of lifeless bones, there is hope there is promise.
Come out, he says. Come out and live.
Let us pray,
Breathe on us breath of God, fill us with life anew,
This is our prayer dear Lord for our world, where so many are feeling helpless and hopeless this day.
We pray for those who are sick in body mind and spirit, for Your healing breath to flow through their very being.
We pray for those who are suffering loss of any kind, that you would breathe your comfort into them and around them.
We pray for those who are seeking to help their fellow brothers and sisters in any way, giving thanks for their compassion and love.
And so, Father God, we place ourselves into your hands for this day, for this coming week, and for all eternity. Amen
Go gently into this coming week, my friends, and may God bless you and keep you in his care. Amen