As early as 1966 Time Magazine published an article entitled “God is Dead” and many people, groups and some faiths would tend to agree. We in the Anglican Church may not agree that God is dead, but the church certainly is having its issues. I need not reiterate all the problems and challenges that we face as a church, but one big issue is our mentality. We are too used to being where we are and continuing as we have for many a year, and now that seeming disaster is upon us….We struggle to find a cure…more youth programs, Back to Church Sunday, praise bands and stewardship programs. All good in and of themselves, but not cure alls. Long LONG ago the Jewish people were taken into exile and all the priests, prophets and cultural types were taken with them. All those people who defined what is was to be a Jewish person in the 6th century were deported to a foreign land. People weren’t treated badly per say…they were a captive people, but they were given land to till, permission to marry and freedom to practice their religion. They were allowed and encouraged to get comfortable in a place they didn’t belong…and when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, the center of all it meant to be Jewish… the people were well on their way to loosing their identity. Some figured there was no point to continue the old ways in this new land…some wanted to adapt to the changing circumstances…some saw the destruction of the city and temple as a death knell...others clung on to the ways they left behind, but those ways were idolatrous and leading away from God. The prophet Ezekiel stood as the voice of God in this chaos. He preached about how the ways of faith had strayed from true worship and that…that is what landed them in exile. Ezekiel prophesied that returning to God would revive and restore the people of Israel to the path of righteousness and be a rebirth of the people. The faith and religiosity of the house of Israel had become fruitless, barren…other ways and other gods were causing the faithful to stray…and the once rich and prosperous people of God had become as dry and brittle as grass in drought. It was to this community that Ezekiel preached, and it was to this community that God sent the vision and message of the dry bones. The valley was full of bones, …scattered, abandoned, dry and barren. Those bones represented the people of Israel, the land, the faith, the covenant people. Those bones in exile in Babylon cried out…”we are dried up and our hope is lost” This could be the call of the prophet to us…we are lost and unsure of the way forward. The fruit of our ways in the past has dried up…the old ways seem barren, the people who filled the church have gone another way. Our Jerusalem is gone and we are no longer in Christendom…we are in a strange and foreign land…one that doesn’t allow us to keep on doing what we’ve always done to the same effect. The old ways have dried up…we can’t simply open the doors and expect that all the british folk will come pouring in. That way has died…and the bones are scattered and dried up. Yet when Israel needed hope the Lord gave Ezekiel a vision not only of despair, but of resurrection…renewal and rebirth…a vision of hope. Prophesy to these bones says God…speak the truth to them…tell them the way of God. “ Here the word of the Lord, you dry bones”…”Hear you churches of the 21st century…hear the word of the Lord”. Those old, dry bones that were the people of Israel were piece by piece, sinew by sinew, muscle by muscle built up once more…nourished and strengthened…given form and function. The word of the Lord gave new life to old bones. God’s word….spoken through the prophet Ezekiel, later became the Word made flesh. Jesus Christ, manifest in human flesh and bone and now through the miracle and glory of the resurrection present here among us…. Speaking those same words to us. “Hear the Word of the Lord” The Word spoke and said I am the way, the truth, the life…and that is what we have been given …the way, the truth and the life eternal. Form and function in our flesh and bone, nourishment to the ways of the church which have grown dry, brittle, barren and dead. God’s word was spoken that day long ago by Ezekiel, and God put those words to action. Prophesy to the wind…says God to Ezekiel…speak to the very breath of God …that spirit that moved over the waters of creation…that the spirit might breathe upon the dead and they may live. The spirit of creation, …from every corner of the earth where the Spirit works and inspires a new creation…is gathered together… the breath of God that breathed life into the first people now breathes life into a barren people. “ I will put my sprit within you” says the Lord “and you shall live”. For Israel in exile this meant a rebirth of a covenant people, a restoration to Israel and a new way of worshiping God. For us in our time it is a reminder and a promise that the Holy Spirit will breathe life into what appears to be a dry and barren people and church. That creation didn’t end on the 6th day, but that Sabbath was a day to rest so that creation could be renewed as often as is needed. The breath came and those dry old bones stood on their feet, a vast multitude …living and full of the spirit of God. God has breathed that Spirit in us, that word prophesized has been made flesh …and the people of Israel have given birth to the followers of Christ. As Israel was reborn from a people of sacrifice in one temple into a people of the book in many places…so we too have to be open to a radical rebirth of the church by the Spirit. Those dry bone of ours are being covered in muscle and tendon so that we can be a people of action…a people full of the Spirit who hear the Word spoken and speak the truth out. The people of Israel trusted in the promise and covenant of God and were indeed restored to Israel from exiles as a new and vibrant people. It is time for us to trust in God’s promises and the new covenant of Christ that we will become a new and vibrant people and the church in whatever form God sees fit will be renewed and reborn. Amen.