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.
A really wonderful thing has happened at the Cathedral in recent days. You may have seen it in the news. Our beloved Stone Mason, Joe Alonso, who has been at the Cathedral more than 35 years, made a wonderful discovery. It turns out that back in 2006, in anticipation of a possible spread of the Avian Flu, the Cathedral purchased more than 5,000 N95 masks. That’s right 5,000 masks! This was well before my time, but it seems we did it to make sure we could pastorally care for people and protect visitors even in the face of a bird flu outbreak. Well this week we had the distinct joy of donating the vast majority of these masks to two local DC hospitals to help with any possible shortage. It is a wonderful bit of grace during these difficult days, and my wife Melissa tells me that it is God winking at us.
I think she is right. Moreover, I think God winks at us all the time but perhaps we just don’t catch it. God’s grace is everywhere – during the best of times and during the worst of times. We may be living in a valley of dry bones these days, trying to stay safe while listening to reports of the virus’ spread, worrying about our friends and family, and wondering if we will have jobs when all of this is over and done. All of these concerns are very real, but we should trust that our God is hard at work in the midst of them breathing new life into our valley of dry bones in ways we may not see. This promise of new life, of hope springing out of hopelessness, is a fundamental part of our faith. It does not take away our worries or solve our problems, but it grounds us in the truth that there are things deeper and more lasting than any struggle we may face in this life. I can see glimpses of this grace all around me, little things that serve to remind me that love in fact does win in the end. Yes, we are living in a valley of dry bones, but new life is coming, and we need not fear.
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer)
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