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Dry Earth, Dry Bones

This morning at New Life, we had a very short worship, and scurried to our cars as the storm blew in. We sang, we prayed, and we heard the story of Ezekiel and the dry bones. It was short, but good. Here's the sermon for your reading pleasure. Ironically- it is about dry times!

 

 

Dry earth, dry bones. 

Sermon: Carmen Retzlaff, New Life Lutheran, Dripping Springs, Texas, 4-2-17

Ezekiel 37:1-14

 

The hand of the Lord came upon Ezekiel, who was in exile from his homeland. In his vision, Ezekiel feels the hand of the Lord upon him, bringing him out and setting him in the middle of a dry valley, filled with bones. 

 

After weeks of water stories in the Gospel of John this Lent, we find ourselves in a desert so dry it seems devoid of life. Desiccated. Here at New Life, we are northeast of the great Chihuahuan Desert of North America, but not into the fertile coastal plains of East Texas. The Hill Country is sparsely forested in some areas by great live oaks and ash juniper. Many native grasses once grew around them, along with dry-climate plants like prickly pear cactus and agarita. We’re high enough above the Trinity aquifer to be decidedly arid, though subject to the climate of Texas famously referred to by meteorologists (as I first heard from Jeff W.)  as “drought with periods of flooding.” 

 

The green-but-arid climate of Babylon, the city of exile from which Ezekiel prophesied, and of Jerusalem, the longed-for home, both resemble the Texas Hill Country. Dry but not desolate. 

 

Between those two places - Babylon, the new home of the people of God, and Jerusalem, the one they missed, was one of the driest places on earth, the Arabian desert. 900,000 square miles of desert, which did and does dictate travel and population patterns in the Middle East. As the crow flies, Jerusalem was about 500 miles from Babylon, but travelers followed the arc of the Euphrates River, and the Fertile Crescent, making the distance about 900 miles.

 

Between two great arid but fertile cities, a vast and dangerous desert. Between the emotional and cultural desert experience of forced exile and home, was a physical desert of sand. They could not cross the emotional distance nor the physical one. 

 

Into this dryness and longing, God sends a vision to Ezekiel, a fiery, dramatic prophet. God says to the prophet, “Prophesy to these bones, and