The northern kingdom had been defeated by the Assyrians.  Nebuchadnezzar had captured Judah, the southern kingdom, destroyed the temple and the remnant of God’s people had been stolen away to Babylon.  But Egypt had its pleasantries and accouterments: permission to marry and exchange goods, elect officials and freedom to assemble.  And the chosen ones got comfortable rocking in the easy chair of captivity.Still, as Craig Barnes says, “No matter how nicely we decorate Babylon, it is still not our home.”

Ezekiel 37:1-14 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 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. 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. Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 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.

How does God call these dry bones to new life?

Congregational Responses:
Skeletons and cadavers can be created, but only life can be animated by the breath of God.
God breathes into the bones just as God did at the beginning of creation, just as the Holy Spirit did at Pentecost.
Ezekiel is trusted with the word made flesh, the miracle is only happens with his spoken participation.

We have become a people addicted to homelessness; bleached by keys to the wrong door, brittle from receiving mail at the wrong address, calcified by residing in the wrong zip code.How does God call these dry bones to new life?  Ever since Adam choose to live east of Eden, God has sent prophet, priest and poet to tell us that we are on heaven’s housing list.  The residence where the coin is found in the cracks, where the lost sheep is back grazing with the flock, where the Prodigal is all smiles in the front yard picnic, and our dry bones finally rattle and bang across the threshold of the Promised Land.  The story of salvation, even more than dismantling evil and atoning for sin, is simply a homecoming.  Salvation is the call to come home.

Garrison Keillor remembers being a school boy in snowy Minnesota.  And Mr. Detman, the school principal, feared that the buses out in the county would get stuck in the snow, stranding the children.  So Mr. Detman instituted a storm house policy where every student was assigned a residence, a nearby place of safety within walking distance.  Garrison got the Kleckles, a husband and wife who lived in a cottage by the lake, a fairy tail of a cabin just on the other side of the thicket where the warm fire glows, where the welcoming hearth invites.  Keillor liked to imagine that the Kleckles had called Mr. Detman and asked that he be their storm boy, insisting, We want the skinny kid with the funny glasses who loves literature.  We want our home to be his home.

We displaced bag of bones, as Frederick Buechner says, “are homesick for a place we have not visited, for a Savior yet unmet.”  But take sinew and take flesh, take breath and take heart, Jesus has already called Mr. Detman and asked for you and for me.