Daily Devotion 27 May 2020

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Ezekiel 37:1-6 ‘The Valley of Dry Bones’

1 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. 2 He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ 4 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 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.’

This wall, not far from where I live, has been stunning of late. I really don’t get how the wall itself – just brick, flint, some mortar – can pour forth this mass of purple flowers and plants: seemingly life and beauty from dead rock. (Someone will doubtless write to me and describe how the seeds of the plants cling on, or are embedded somehow into the surface, and the flora is consequently sustained and flourishes). Maybe I’m happy not to understand at all how this happens, and just enjoy that it does!

What, you might be thinking, has that got to do with this particularly unusual piece of the Bible – Ezekiel’s vision is a certainly very strange one! The prophet Ezekiel – alive during the long exile when the Hebrews were scattered or contained in Babylon, sees the dead of the house of Israel rise again. The prophet receives from God words of hope, the possiblity of new life and restoration for God’s people once again.

At the time of writing, I don’t know accurately when our society will more closely resemble ‘normality’ (whatever that is). I don’t know specifically how and when our church doors may be reopened and we can worship physically together once more. I don’t know for sure the full extent of the hurt that people across Eastbourne, our country, and indeed the globe, will have suffered, nor understand all the healing that will be needed. But I do know that the Bible is full of stories, visions and accounts of hope and life restored – even when death or despair might seem to be winning. Ezekiel saw it in dead bones; Martha and Mary saw it in their brother Lazarus, walking out of a tomb. The disciples saw it in a Risen Saviour who proved God’s love.

We will see new life and new hope come in many ways, because the God of the prophets, of the earliest followers of Jesus, of the early church, is the same God now. You and I can also see God at work in our midst now – consoling, comforting, bring peace to troubled souls and guiding all who open their hearts, in ways of compassion and care. In places where lifelessness and darkness seem to abound, God ushers forth life and beauty and love.

Lord God, bringer of life and love,
grant that we might hold fast to your promises.
May we listen to the words of the saints,
remember your faithfulness to your people,
and be ready to see your signs among us.
Help us to be ambassadors of hope in Eastbourne,
bringing light and beauty to those in need.

Reflection, Image and Prayer © 2020 Paul Tabraham.
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