It seems like such a silly question.  Standing in a valley of dried up skeletons Ezekiel is asked “Can these bones live?”

These bones? Can they live?
(Personal photo)

The answer is obvious….isn’t it?

Not in this week’s reading.  Good thing Ezekiel is smart enough to defer to God’s answer.

You can read the passage here. The Working Preacher commentary is here and the podcast is here.

Here we are in the middle of Advent. Here we are preparing for birth. We might expect to be talking about trees dancing with joy (oh right, that is next week) but instead we are talking about a valley that reeks of death and desolation.  What’s up with that?

Well the valley may reek of death, but the story abounds with the promise of life, of rebirth, of re-creation, possibly even of resurrection. And that means hope.

Even where death seems to have had the final victory God brings life and hope. That is Gospel.

Ezekiel speaks out of exile, out of a place where the people wonder if God has forgotten them. “They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’” In response God says the nation will be reborn from the skeleton of what was.

An image comes to my mind. When watching home renovation shows they often talk about a house having “good bones”. A house which does not have good bones may not be worth renovating. Bones are the foundational piece, they form the structure on which all is built.  God is not creating a new nation, God is rebuilding the nation from their base foundation.

What are the “bones” of our faith communities, what does God have to build on as new life arises?

As we stand in the midst of Advent, as we await the birth of the one who brings hope and peace and joy and love and life, do we stand here with hope or with despair? When you look at the world does it appear that God is in charge and actively bringing about change or does it look like God is absent, that God’s voice has gone silent?

  • As you look at your community, where do you see dry bones?
  • Where do you see the bones starting to twitch, to be reconnected?
  • Is the wind of life starting to blow? In response do we stand in the teeth of the gale or do we seek shelter from it?

PS: Be honest now… who has this song running through their head when they read this passage:


Gord Waldie is an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Canada, currently in Northwestern Alberta. He shares his life with his partner and their four daughters and blogs (periodically) at Following Frodo or shares his “churchy-stuff” at Ministerial Mutterings


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4 thoughts on “Narrative Lectionary: Dance Bones Dance! (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

    1. At first I thought it an odd choice for Advent (which is why I actually moved it to November. But upon further reflection I think life in the face of death meets the Advent spirit quite well.

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