The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel chronicles a ministry to exiles. The overwhelming picture that Ezekiel, prophet and priest, paints in the 48 chapters of his testimony is the image of a God whose abiding presence provides hope to hopeless people.
Perhaps the best known of Ezekiel’s many visions is that of The Valley of Dry Bones. Having been “set down” by the hand of the Lord amidst a valley of dry human bones the prophet is questioned by God: “Ezekiel, can these bones live?” Ezekiel answers, “O Lord God, you know…” God commands the prophet to prophesy to the bones and say to them, “O dry bones hear the word of the Lord… I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with 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.” When Ezekiel pronounces as he is commanded suddenly “there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.”
Recently I met Naomi Natale. Naomi has a vision too. It’s an incredible vision and one soon to come to life. On June 8, 2013 1,000,000 handmade bones crafted by students, artists and activists from around the world will be laid on the National Mall to raise awareness about and honor those lost and those striving to survive genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma and Somalia. In Naomi’s vision each bone represents a call to action, a story, a voice. In my vision each bone represents the hope of God for hopeless people.
In Ezekiel’s vision of The Valley of Dry Bones God, through the prophet, promises the exiles that the spirit of the Lord will “open your graves, and bring you from your graves.” By this the hopeless will know that God “has spoken and will act.”
Can we participate in God’s promise?
You can learn more about Naomi’s vision at onemillionbones.org You can also help by joining an effort we’re putting together at St. Alban’s. We are going to make some bones. I’ve got visions of Albanites and maybe even Episcopalians from across the Diocese gathering for a day of bone making on the Cathedral Close and then gathering to lay down dry bones on the Mall on June 8. Each bone we make will raise one dollar for political action and advocacy.
Rev. Matthew is talking to the youth and young adults at St. Alban’s. And now we are talking too. It’s gonna take about 4000 people to bring Naomi’s (and Ezekiel’s if I can be so bold) vision to life. In the process we’ll prophesy to the many thousands for whom these visions can bring voice; to those who cry, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Stay tuned and let me know if you’d like to help.