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September 19

Ezekiel 37, 13-14

Something to read

‘And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 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

To read the King James Version, click here

Something to think about

God’s promise contradicts the words of the people back in verse 11: they are no longer without hope, “cut off completely”. Yet the place they are going back to is, on the face of it, a far cry from the comforts in Babylon – it has been reduced to ruins, and many years of rebuilding lie ahead.

God doesn’t suggest anything different. Instead he promises something greater than material prosperity – a new relationship with him, his spirit within them, which means truly living instead of merely existing.

And their return from exile means that the people will know for sure that God keeps his promises, knowledge that will sustain them throughout all the years of reconstruction.

New relationships, whether with God or with other people, are life-giving. They are the inspiration for a new way of living that is completely different from mere existence that denies life as surely as the grave does. For the people returning from Babylon, their own soil was a symbol of that new life.

Today, poor people may have other symbols – a village well, a malaria net, a cow or a goat – all signs of a promise kept in the past and of new life and work in the future.

Something to do

Think of something that for you means new life, such as a photo of a baby, a young plant, a toy tractor or farm animal. Put it somewhere where you can’t help seeing it.

Something to pray

Thank you, Lord, for your life-giving power. Thank you that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is within us, enabling us to hear your voice calling us to share in your work in the world you created. 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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