Thursday, December 10, 2015

Advent 2015

"From Brokenness to Life"


             During the season of Advent, we're called upon to be reminded of certain realities.  Among those realities is the brokenness of our world, which stands in contrast to the biblical vision of God's plan for our world.  One of the most striking pictures of brokenness in the writings of the prophets is the vision of Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones, found in the thirty-seventh chapter of the book of the prophet Ezekiel.  Perhaps you remember the story.

             After a long siege and a series of bloody battles, Israel had been defeated and overrun.  The magnificent temple had been left a heap of ruins.  Israel's leading citizens had been deported hundreds of miles to a place none of them knew, surrounded by people who spoke a language they didn't understand, and worshipped gods that they'd never heard of.

  There was a prophet, Ezekiel, who was commissioned to remind his friends that God wasn't through with them yet - that they still figured prominently in his plan to heal the brokenness of the nation and the brokenness of the world, regardless of the apparent hopelessness and helplessness of their circumstances.

  It happened through a vision.  As Ezekiel gazed across the valley he could see the bones of Israel's soldiers massacred years before in the final battle for the survival of the nation.  By now the bones were whitened by the rays of the sun and lay in disorganized piles, disconnected from one another.  A more stark depiction of brokenness can scarcely be imagined.

  God showed Ezekiel how his power and spirit could overcome the brokenness of those bones and reanimate them.  Not only that - by the power and Spirit of God, flesh would come upon the bones, and these skeletons would become living beings again.  Ezekiel's job was to prophesy to the bones, and that's what he did.

  I believe that here we have a picture of what God wants to do in and for our world.  Do we need to be reminded that we live in a broken world?  A world that is disintegrating on so many levels?  A world in which we are disconnected from one another by our perceived differences, which we permit to obscure the multitude of ways in which we are alike?  No, we don't need to be reminded, do we?

  It's not too much of a stretch to affirm that the coming of the Messiah, for whom we are preparing during this season, is God's word to the world that brokenness isn't the final answer.  That what God was demonstrating for Ezekiel reflects his vision for our world as well.  Our task as God's people is the same as that of Ezekiel:  to tend to our own brokenness, and to prophesy to a hurting world that God himself has come into our world to heal it and make it whole.


- Howard Pendley


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