The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Organized religion in secular, Western countries has been on a decline that shows no signs of stopping. Most of those remaining are often struggling to survive. Spending most of their energy on survival, less energy is available for secondary matters such as those of spirit. But with logistics being attended to while spiritual activities go by the wayside, can these struggling organizations really be called ‘religious’? Is such a title shallow and arbitrary? Are our current religious establishments just dried up remnants of organizations with real spiritual value from days gone by? Are we just dry bones from bodies that were once alive and active with matters of the spirit?
In America, I feel organized religion is fighting death, fighting to be more than dry bones, even though it seems to become more of a threat every day. In the reading from Ezekiel, it takes two attempts to bring the bones back to life. One attempt brings the bones together and recreate the bodies that once were. But they are not alive. In my opinion, that is were organized religion is now. The ground work is laid, the organization and structure are there, but that spark of life is still largely absent. We need living word, will, and action to move the spirit and create organizations that live in this world rather than function as relics of fossilized traditions.