Lent 2014: Connect Week 1

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Note: Ezekiel is the Old Testament Lesson associate with the 5th Week in Lent. Because of the rhythm of the school year and a project where different groups creatively present the Scripture in worship during Lent, we are “flipping” the texts for Lent 1 and Lent 5 this year.

Have you ever experienced an injury, say an ankle injury, and had to go to the doctor? Upon inspection the doctor looks up at you, begins explaining the long, slow process of rehabilitation, talking about the long time and makes the observation,  “you know sometimes, its better to break an ankle than to sprain it.” I understand that what is implied in that observation is that ligaments stretch and sometimes fray, that joint stability is sometimes very difficult to obtain after a connective tissue injury. Sometimes things gets out of joint and its very difficult to get back to full strength or snug, much less back in alignment.

I believe that we all have places that are quite right in each of our lives and could use a little strengthening, snugging up, or alignment. Going back to the orthopedic analogy. Maybe something is not quite right, not ideal, and maybe something is really askew, has been for quite some time. Many times we can put things back right by ourselves, although sometimes it can be painful (like Mel Gibson’s should in the Lethal Weapon series!).

Sometimes we need help. One time I dislocated my shoulder skiing. There was no way I was getting up by myself, much less getting down to the bottom of the hill on my own volition. I needed someone’s help, in this case I volunteer.  Sometimes we need a professional.

Sometimes when things aren’t quite right in our lives, we can try force things back and go about our lives. Many times we do this and it usually works, though sometimes it can hurt. Other times we need help and there are plenty of resources to which we can turn. And other times we have places in our life where we know they are utterly broken, there’s nothing to be done. Maybe time has passed, so much time that we feel like those areas of our lives never healed, they are just the dry, disjointed bones of our life that might have crumbled to the point where we cannot remember what it was… or maybe who we were then.

But friends, I tell you, there can be new life. The dry bones of life can become new life.

One of the reasons I love institutions like Murphy Harpst in Rockmart, a United Methodist Women’s institution, is that they step into the juvenile justice system and stand, almost literally, between teenagers and jail. They take children whom the court system has worked with and are about to say there’s nothing to be done but put them in jail. Murphy Harpst believes that new life can happen in the lives of these teens.

Intown Collaborative Ministries has a key focus that we hold out to all whom we come in contact with that there can be a better way forward. You do not have to be abandoned to your current situation. For the folk we work with at Intown, we say “God doesn’t want anyone to be hungry, anyone to be homeless”

There can be renewal. There can be new life.

During Lent, we shift into a different season of the church and a different way of being in the world. I believe we approach this time with a little more introspection, a little more contemplation. Maybe part of that is to spend time appraising that which is our life, look at the places where we are confident in our all the various parts and pieces that makes up our life.

  • Maybe with a different rhythm we will see—maybe for the first time, maybe reminded anew—that there is something that is just not right.
  • maybe we can spend this season of Lent finding a new rhythm that will put right what is wrong
  • maybe we find something in our life, in our relationships where we could use a hand
  • And maybe, just maybe, we stumble across something that has been robbed of life and tossed asunder for so long, that we have abandoned all hope or forgot that part of our live.

Into all of this we proclaim the promise of Ezekiel’s vision: there can be new life. Ezekiel’s message to those who were exiled and thought that the promises made to them by God held no claim was this: that contrary to all evidence, God’s will restore life, God will bring new life.

  • Today in Sunday School we began looking at the plight of the Palestinian Christian community and that community’s cry for recognition, for help. The truth is, there are no easy answers. Nonetheless, we hold true to God’s vision of the possibility of new life.
  • I think that part of who we are as a Christian Community at Druid Hills is we are a place for folks to connect to the story of Jesus when they have given up on church, given up on God. Here, this community is not just a harbinger of new life, and incubator of new life, but we as a community of faith ARE new life.

This is hope, this is the good news embedded in Ezekiel’s vision:

  • Nothing can be rendered unsalvageable.
  • Nothing can rob life so as to render it unable to be restored by God.

The journey of Lent is not just one of solemn introspection. It is one that goes to Jerusalem, and yes to the cross, but also to the empty tomb. And, ultimately the story is one of new life.

This Lenten season, we are using the theme of “Connect”. Over this season, much of what we do be it worship, our learning opportunities, or even our wednesday night activities, we’ll be offering different ways to connect, connect to your own journey in a new way, connect to each other, and connect to God. It is our hope that in all we do, we will connect with this story, this hope, this promise.

Today, we are reminded that we are not left alone, we are not left desolate, we are not rendered to the valley of dry bones. God comes to us in Jesus, not only offering the idea of hope but infusing new life to our common life and individual lives in a fashion that knits us together, that connects us in such a fashion that we are once again whole as individuals, whole as a body of people who follow Jesus, and whole with God.