You may wish to light a candle and place it before you as you begin.
to the goodness of God.
Testify to the love of Christ.
Testify to the presence of the Holy Spirit.
HYMN: Every time I feel the Spirit
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJxTxWlCv5k
FIRST READING: Ezekiel 37:1-14 (CEB)
A reading from: Ezekiel
37 The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones. 2 He led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry.
3 He asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?” I said, “Lord God, only you know.”
4 He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! 5 The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. 6 I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.”
7 I prophesied just as I was commanded. There was a great noise as I was prophesying, then a great quaking, and the bones came together, bone by bone. 8 When I looked, suddenly there were sinews on them. The flesh appeared, and then they were covered over with skin. But there was still no breath in them.
9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.”
10 I prophesied just as he commanded me. When the breath entered them, they came to life and stood on their feet, an extraordinarily large company.
11 He said to me, “Human one, these bones are the entire house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely finished.’ 12 So now, prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims: I’m opening your graves! I will raise you up from your graves, my people, and I will bring you to Israel’s fertile land. 13 You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, my people. 14 I will put my breath / spirit in you, and you will live. I will plant you on your fertile land, and you will know that I am the Lord. I’ve spoken, and I will do it. This is what the Lord says.
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.
Gospel: John 20:19-23 (CEB)
A reading from: John
19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
Word of God, word of life. Thanks be to God.
The time and place for our reading from the Prophet Ezekiel is about 550 BCE in Babylon. Ezekiel is a prophet who sees visions and dreams and acts out them out for his community, a sort of multi-media demonstration. It seems there is a community of supporters who write down what he says and does, so we have lots of his visions and activities to explore.
The visions and demonstrations all point to a future where the despairing Judeans are sent back to their homeland from exile in Babylon. In this reading, Ezekiel has a vision of a valley of dead bones. Nothing grows there, not even weeds, it seems. God and Zeke have a conversation about life and death. First, God puts together the bones into human form, adds skin and organs and muscles. The valley is now filled with bodies, not just bones. But the bodies are just lying there.
God says, “Can these bodies live?” Zeke says, “Only you know that. It’s up to you to put life in them.” God replies, “Say to the wind, blow your breath and spirit into these bodies so they can live.” And the bodies come to life.
God has a purpose in this vision. It’s to assure Ezekiel that God has the power to return the entire household of Israel to their homeland. God says, “The people of Israel feel like they are lost, dead. They are so depressed, it is if they have no life in them. Now go and preach to the people that God knows how they feel and promises there will come a time when their lives and land will be restored to them!” And here, the vision ends.
I suppose the disciples are feeling just as depressed and lifeless on that day, the third day after the crucifixion. Their vision of the future with Jesus has been nailed to the cross with him. Deflated, depressed, scared, they huddle together behind locked doors. Suddenly, Jesus enters the room.
“Peace be with you,” he says. And he breathes on them, giving them the Holy Spirit / Breath/ Wind. And then, just as God told Ezekiel, Jesus says, “Now, go and share this Spirit / breath/ wind with everyone else.
We have been given this same Spirit/ breath / wind. The Greek word pneuma means “air in motion.” It is up to us to keep the Spirit/ breath / wind in motion, reaching out to others with Jesus’ Holy Spirit. As we share the peace with them, we pass on the Spirit. We pass on the breath of life and the winds of promises kept. Amen
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,
but in these last days, God has spoken to us by the Son.
In Christ Jesus we meet the God who knows our weakness and bears the wounds of the world. Therefore, let us be bold as we pray, trusting that God draws near to those in any kind of need.
Individual prayers are offered silently or aloud.
Into your wide embrace, O God, we place all our prayers, spoken and unspoken, trusting that you will receive them into your heart of mercy, Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior. Amen
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
HYMN: Now it is Evening
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LdnT4TpJD8
Now go forth
with the song of the seraphs in your hearts.
Depart to rejoin the wayward world we live in.
Go in peace as children of the Almighty Creator,
Scripture from Common English Bible © 2012
Liturgy from ELW Annual Liturgy License 26504
And Abingdon Worship Annual 2021