On Easter Sunday, at our Sunrise service, we read the powerful story from Ezekiel as well as the traditional story from the Christian scriptures. The truth is the Bible is filled with resurrection stories. When we come to this important celebration of Easter, we can sometimes pretend as if the account of the resurrection story of Jesus we read from one of the gospels is the only one.  But the Hebrew people held this visual, dramatic and wonderful story of the valley filled with dry, dead bones as a central image of hope for a scattered and desolate people…a central image of resurrection. It is a fabulous tale conjuring up all the wildness of myth and science fiction and wonder that stays with a person, and has, for literally thousands of years. It stays with us in part because it is so visual. Bones laying in dust.The  Voice calling across the dry land. Femur and backbone and elbow all coming together to form an army of beings or a dance troupe of upright skeletons. Then the sinew forming and the muscles clothing the bones. Can’t you just imagine it? It is the stuff of great movies.and a story to inspire and transform.

And there is the constant question: Can these bones live? CAN THESE BONES LIVE?  This is God’s voice challenging Ezekiel. To imagination.To action. To hope. Hope that the Spirit will do what the Spirit, the breath, the RUACH does, and has always done since the beginning of Creation. “BREATHE!”, says the Voice. “BREATHE!” “Breathe life into what was dead in this direction. Breathe life into what seemed impossible in that direction/ Breathe life into what looked beyond any sign of ever knowing life again right here in this time, in this place.”

This story of resurrection has withstood time because it is our story and the story of all who have come before us and all who are likely to come after. This story of resurrection continues to be told because it is the fuel of every hope we have. What was, what is dead, lifeless, hopeless, desolate comes to life once again.

Perhaps, it feels to some that it is a message that is needed now more than ever. I wonder if others, throughout time have felt the same. For this is a story that calls us from every direction to come together as the broken, dried up, hopeless people we can become and to stand upright.These are the words that urge us to call upon God’s Spirit to Breathe life into us. To put flesh and muscle on our skeletons and to send us into the world as God’s creative, imaginative, makers of mercy and justice and peace. This story of dry bones and hope dried up tells of the resurrection that comes again and again to those who call upon God’s life giving Breath to BREATHE….BREATHE…BREATHE….when the world seems harsh and difficult and even impossible. It is the resurrection that opens our hardened hearts and allows green to spring from bulbs long buried. It is nothing less than the rebirth of HOPE…that gift that always propels us toward new life…

Artist and poet Jan Richardson offers this blessing for this kind of hope..

So may we know
the hope
that is not just
for someday
but for this day –

here, now,
in this moment
that opens to us:

hope not made
of wishes
but of substance,

hope made of sinew
and muscle
and bone,

hope that has breath
and a beating heart,
hope that will not
keep quiet
and be polite,

hope that knows
how to holler
when it is called for,

hope that knows
how to sing
when there seems
little cause,

hope that raises us
from the dead-
not someday
but this day,
every day,
again and
again and

***I was asked to share these words that I spoke at the Sunrise service and so here they are!

Thirsty People

We are a thirsty people. I was reminded of it this week when we gathered around a beautiful labyrinth painted to resemble a beach and the water that lapped against it and on it. We gathered, a thirsty people, to pray for those around the world who live with a scarcity of water. Or water that stands stagnant and poison. Or water that is laced with chemicals too dangerous for children or other living things. Or water that must be carried for long distances in fragile and fractured vessels by women whose work is already heavy and thankless.

I was reminded of the thirst we humans share when I prayed this prayer written by Edward Hoyt, CRS:

And was we gaze upon this land that so thirsts for your water
Let it remind us of all the thirsts of the world:
The thirst for justice
The thirst for peace
The thirst for opportunity
The thirst for reconciliation
The thirst for hope.

So many thirsty longings. We know that our bodies can live quite a long time without food. Though hungry, our bodies will continue to feed off itself as muscle and fat wastes away. But we perish without water…that element that makes up the largest part of who we are. Our thirst is what can be our undoing.

I am thinking now of the children of Flint, Michigan and all the other places where literal water has been harmful to the growth and future of those who call it home. I am thinking about all the children who are thirsty for nurturing words, kind touch, affirming actions. I am thinking of the wise ones, old with years, who ache for companionship, who suffer the dehydration of loneliness. I am thinking about all those who are thirsty for another chance to prove their worth, to show what they can do, to offer their gifts. I am thinking of all those who thirst to be seen, to be heard, to be known.

We are a thirsty people. Our thirsts run deep and our connections are often frayed. But I believe we harbor within a cup of compassion that is held out to us by the One who breathed us all into being, the One who longs to quench thirst and bring life.

And when your blessings rain from the sky
As assuredly they will
And we kneel again at the pools and fountains
Teach us to cup our hands
And gently,
in solidarity
Turn first, and share with one another.

May it be so. May it be so.