New Life from Dry Bones
None needed, but a marionette or a puppet could be used toward the end
I have two stories to tell you this morning. The first story is from the Bible. It is a story of a great prophet who lived thousands of years ago. His name was Ezekiel. Some of the stories about Ezekiel are very strange, almost like today's science fiction stories. Today's story might be a little scary except that it has a really good ending.
Let's use our imaginations. We have to picture a very strange scene and it might help us if we think of the movie The Lion King. Have you seen that movie? Think of the scary scene where Simba, the young lion, is lost in a scary place. He finds himself surrounded by lots of animal bones. Do you have that picture in your mind now?
Now instead of Simba walking around among all these bones, picture a man from the Bible. That's our prophet Ezekiel. In the Bible, Ezekiel finds himself in a desert valley surrounded by dry bones. How did he get there? Well, he didn't just get up one morning and think "I know, I'll go looking for a place that is full of bones!" No, according to the Bible, Ezekiel is sort of teleported into this barren valley full of bones. He just finds himself there. He must feel lonely and scared. It is just he and the bones. Oh, but we can't forget. God is there, too!
God asks Ezekiel a question. He says, "Ezekiel, can these old dry bones live?" Ezekiel doesn't know how to answer this question. After all, he's talking to God. So Ezekiel answers very cleverly, "God, You know the answer."
He's right! God does know the answer and God tells Ezekiel that he will make these old dry bones live again. He will add muscle and skin to them and breathe life into them and what appears to be dead will walk the earth again. And they will be God's people.
If you, listen to the words we use in our worship today -- in the Bible readings, in the sermon and in today's hymns, you will hear a lot of talk about breathing life into people.
Today is called Pentecost. It comes roughly 50 days after our Easter, but back in Bible times it was 50 days after the Passover. It was a holiday for the Jewish people long before it became a Christian holiday. But something very special happened one particular Pentecost many years ago, just after Jesus rose from the dead. On this particular Pentecost, God took advantage of the fact that many Jews were gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration of Jewish Pentecost. They weren't dead like the bones in our Ezekiel story, but even so, God came to them and breathed new life into them and changed them. God took a group of rattled and confused followers of Jesus, He breathed His Spirit into them and they were brought alive in a new sense. They were filled with energy. They had new insight. They understood each other in a new and different way. They bonded together and began something that today we call the Church. That's why today, we call Pentecost the birthday of the Church.
Remember, I told you I had two stories to tell you. I think most of you probably know the second story. It is not from the Bible, but it is a good story all the same. It is the story of Pinnochio. Who can tell us something about Pinnochio?
Yes, Pinnochio was a puppet. He was nothing but a few sticks of dry wood screwed together. He was like a pile of dry bones. But after a long series of adventures, which bring him closer to his father, the puppet maker, life is breathed into this puppet and he becomes a real boy. As a real boy, he can love his Father and serve his Father like he couldn't do when he was a puppet. Let's imagine ourselves as lifeless puppets. Our Heavenly Father is looking down on us and he is breathing life into us. Once again, God will make dry bones walk on this earth to serve and love the Lord. More than that, these dry bones will run, skip, jump and dance for the Lord. Let's see you move your bones with new life from the Lord.
Now I have a fun song for you. (Dry bones)