April – Pastoral Letter

Written by | April, 2011
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Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!”
Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!”
Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!”

“Oh, hear the word of the Lord.”Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:11-14)

This familiar Negro spiritual gives a graphic picture of God’s power to restore dry bones to life. The priest Ezekiel was given visions of the kingdom of Christ against the backdrop of God’s chosen people being taken into the Babylonian captivity. The people of God were being whipsawed between carnal overconfidence and fleshly despair. Ezekiel laid bare the spiritual rebellion of Judah and the need for God’s chosen people to repent of their disobedience. Ezekiel warns the early captives that Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed. The nation of Judah had become a valley of dead bones.

To counter the despair of God’s people who had lost all hope, the Lord pictures the miracle of His breathing life into these dead bones. In a remarkable picture these bones came together bone to bone. And then tendons and skin covered these bones. Still there was no life in these dead, dry bones. The Lord then breathed “life” into these dead bones. “Breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.” It is a remarkable picture as this army of dead bones came to life.

At first glance, it may seem that Ezekiel is picturing that great day when all the dead will come out of the graves and live. “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” Sometimes the children in confirmation class try to visualize the physical resurrection of the dead in pictures from a bad horror movie. They think in terms of Ezekiel’s graphic picture of the bones, the tendons, and the skin coming together on that great day of resurrection.

However, Ezekiel’s picture gives God’s Old Testament people the hope of spiritual life. “‘I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the LORD.” The Lord God promises that He will not abandon His people in Babylon. He will breathe spiritual life into the deadness of Judah and return them to their land. Ezekiel points to the coming of the Messiah King who would establish an everlasting kingdom. Out of the deadness of the religious and political life of Israel the dynasty of David would come life. The fulfillment of this picture of dead bones coming to life is found in those who are a part of God’s people through faith in Jesus. Jesus promised that the Spirit would breathe life into His Church, and not even the gates of hell would be able to prevail against it.

This Easter we see the dead bones of our personal lives and the dead bones which is the CLC. The message of the prophets reveals the hopelessness of our spiritual condition. We were born dead in sins and trespasses. Overconfidence in our powers and our righteousness leads to dead and dry bones. By nature we are dead bones needing the Spirit to breathe life into our dead bones. Our organizational forms (congregations and church body) tend to follow the pattern and history of Old Testament Israel. We look at our growth as measured by numbers over the last fifty years, and there has been very little. We see members taking for granted the means of grace and gradually losing their first love. We are tired of the struggles to apply the fellowship principles to real life, and our knees grow weary of the race that is our life. There is always the tendency to use evangelical practice as an excuse for not dealing with problems within our ministries and congregations. Sinful despair and overconfidence in ourselves lead us to complain, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!”

The Spirit breathed life into the dust pile that was Adam. Jesus brought the dead bones of Lazarus to life. God brought spiritual life to Judah and the house of David through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit breathed life into the Church of God on the day of Pentecost. God is able to bring life to our dead, dry bones.

This Easter then we rejoice to see the Spirit breathing life into our dead bones. The Gospel is being proclaimed to the ends of the earth. People are finding rest for their souls in our ministries. Jesus will continually revitalize His Church, His people, and His pastors. Rejoice this Easter in God’s message of physical life for dead bones like Lazarus in the grave. But also rejoice this Easter in God’s message of spiritual life for dead bones like we.

Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun’
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun’
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun’
Oh, hear the word of the Lord.

A Blessed Easter Celebration to You and Your Families,

Please remember Pastor Kevin McKenney and his family in your prayers

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