Bones, bones, everywhere and not a drop of blood, not an inch of skin, not a gasp of breath. Just bones. Just the dried out remains of a life that once was lived but now is not. Tell me, son of man, can these bones live?
Look, there are the bones of feet that once marched across a stage to receive a diploma; that walked down an aisle to become bone of another’s bone, flesh of their flesh; that ran alongside a child’s bicycle when the training wheels were removed. Yet now the bones of those feet do not march, do not walk, do not run. They have been bleached under the sun of grief, immobilized by the pain of lost love, lost life, lost hope. Tell me, son of man, can these bones live?
Look, there are the bones of hands that once played with toy trucks or dressed Barbie dolls, but those hands grew. And as they grew, the fingers on those hands gripped bottle after bottle, pushed needle after needle into their skin, until those hands lost all control and did unspeakable things that marred and scarred them. In the valley of their addiction their bones bake under the heat of a relentless sun. Tell me, son of man, can these bones live?
Look, there are the skulls of women who have been abused by men, others who have used men, and still others who have simply given up on life and crouched down to die in this valley of despair. There are the swollen skulls of men whose pride has puffed them up and the flattened skulls of men who have beaten their heads against the wall in frustration with a dead-end life. In the middle of this valley of abuse and hopelessness and pride, these skulls sit. Tell me, son of man, can these bones live?
O Lord God, you know. You know whether these bones can live. You know whether there is hope for the hurting, forgiveness for the failures, resurrection for the dead. So, tell us, Son of God, can these bones live?
O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus he says to these bones. Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause 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. I will fill my lungs with the breath of life, and exhale that Spirit into your lungs. I will lay upon you the sinews of my salvation, and will cause the flesh of forgiveness to come upon you, and graft upon you the skin of my love.
Look, here are the feet of the Son of God who walked a lifetime in our shoes, who did for us what we could never do for ourselves. His feet walked the straight path of the Father from which we have gone astray. His feet did not trample others, did not run to shed innocent blood. And he walked this path for you. What he did, he did that his doing might be credited to you. Oh how beautiful are the feet of the Son of God, who walked in the law for you; the feet pierced by a spike for you; the feet that stomped upon the head of the ancient serpent that you might be victorious over your foe.
Look, here are the hands of the Son of God who reached out to touch the leper, the pariah, whom no man dared to touch. Here are the hands that would not pick up a stone to cast at the woman caught in adultery. Here are the hands that stretched out on the cross to receive the nails, and then stretched out those nail-scarred hands to beckon Thomas from his doubt. These hands heal your hands. These hands of the Son of God reach out to lift you up, to make you new, to love you back to the wholeness of the children of God.
Look, here is the head of the church, who died at the hill called the Place of the Skull. Here is the head who humbly bore a crown of thorns to crown you with life. Here is the head struck by the soldiers that you might be embraced by the Father’s peace. Here God bows his head and gives up his Spirit that the Spirit might uplift your weary heads, forgive you, and raise you to new life with Christ on Easter Day.
O dry bones, can you live?
You will live!
You do live!
You live now in Christ!
There is now no condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus. The skeletons of your past, the skeletons in your closet, are all gone. Christ has taken them away. He has wrapped you with the muscle of his mercy, clothed you with the skin of his salvation, poured into your veins the liquid of his love, and breathed into you the Spirit of life.
You say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.
But God says: Behold, you are not dried up. You are washed in the waters of my saving blood. You hope is not lost for, look, I myself am your hope. You are not cut off for nothing can sever you from my love. Nothing.
In Jesus Christ your bones do more than live; they thrive in his grace. For he raises you from the death of your sin, makes you part of his resurrected body, and pours his Spirit into you. You are forgiven. You are alive.
You are in Christ, his Spirit is in you, and you are the Father’s child.
What we need in our fragmented world, full of hurting people, is the love of Jesus Christ, who welcomes home sinners with a grace that knows no bounds. My book Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, is packed with reflections that go that extra mile of grace. Again and again, they present the Christ who is crucified and risen for you. Please take a moment to check it out here. You may also be interested in my collections of hymns and poetry entitled, The Infant Priest, which you can purchase here. Both books are also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you for your prayers and support!