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September 17

Ezekiel 37, 9-10

Something to read

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.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

New Revised Standard Version

To read the King James Version, click here

Something to think about

The climax to the story is marked by God’s repeated command to prophesy. It’s an awesome command because it calls upon a power that is God’s alone, to give life to the lifeless. 

And it’s an awe-inspiring scene that results, as the bones that previously filled a whole valley become a great crowd of people. So the parable, that is yet to be interpreted, comes to a nicely rounded conclusion.

Yet the prophet can be under no illusions about his role in all this: he remains simply “mortal”. And that is a healthy reminder to all of us who are called to Christian ministry or to other forms of service.

Admittedly we have in this parable only the bare bones (sorry!) of a story. But isn’t it striking how economically it’s recorded. “I prophesied as he commanded me”: there’s no hint of the prophet seeking thanks or status as a result of what happens, he simply does what he is called to do.

Ultimately, the key actor in the parable is God the Creator. God pours out his life-giving power through the prophet, but it’s a power that envelops all creation, coming from every corner of the earth. In the face of that, the prophet is a very insignificant mortal indeed.

Something to do

Find a child’s windmill and put it somewhere where it will catch the wind: use it as a reminder of God breathing on the world. If you don’t have a windmill, make one, by tying an old CD, or something similar, to a garden stick.

Something to pray

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you
for all the benefits that you have won for us,
for all the pains and insults that you have borne for us.
Most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day. 
Amen
St Richard of Chichester

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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