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September 16

Ezekiel 37, 7-8

Something to read

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.

New Revised Standard Version

To read the King James Version, click here

Something to think about

It’s not hard to imagine the rattling noise of the dry bones and for the prophet it must have been a spine-chilling moment. Prophecy doesn’t normally have such a rapid and gruesome effect!

But if the rattling is realistic enough, nothing else is. The bones fit themselves easily into place and the skeletons are immediately covered. The appearance of death has been replaced by the appearance of life.

But it is only an appearance: the vital “breath” of life is still to come. The last vital stage in creation, as set out in Genesis 2.7, is missing: “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”

Perfectly formed (after some noisy construction) yet lacking life: does that remind you of anything?  An immaculate house? A community building?  A church near you? What needs to happen for that house to become a home, for the building to become a real community centre, for the church to become a true worshipping community? Where is the breath of life going to come from?

Something to do

Take a good look at your church: where is there life waiting to be breathed into it? In its music? Its work with children? Its welcome to visitors? And now do what you have to do!

Something to pray

Lord God, we offer you our carefully constructed lives. Breathe your breath of life into them, and with it new energy to serve you. Amen.

Today's contributor is the Rev Dr Paula Clifford, a former Head of Theology for Christian Aid, now Vicar of Minster Lovell in the Anglican Oxford Diocese, and Oxford Deanery Mission Enabler.

 

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