Theatre of Faith – Suspending Disbelief
Ezekiel 37: 1-14
1 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. 2 He led me to and fro among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’
I said, ‘Sovereign Lord, you alone know.’
4 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 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.”’
7 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. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 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.”’ 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.
11 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.” 12 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. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 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.”’
What is going on? The play is entering an odd place and our hero is having an existential crisis and needs to learn a crucial lesson about themselves and the people they represent. Something needs to happen and it needs to happen quickly. It might be that the play enters a dream sequence or something happens that doesn’t appear to make any sense.
At the point the prophet Ezekiel has a vision, and finds himself in the Valley of the Dry Bones, he is at a crisis point. The people of Israel are done for and all hope for the future appears to have gone, however, the vision that Ezekiel has is dramatic and it makes a clear point. The vision is strange and other worldly and requires the belief in how things normally work to be suspended. This vision casts a valley of dry bones coming back to life and points Ezekiel to hope for a future based in God.
In the Theatre of Faith it sometimes feels as if we have to take a step into something that is beyond normal reality, but that is the point. With God the unbelievable can be made believable and the seemingly impossible can become possible.
When we can see no way of challenging and changing earthly problems help us to suspend our disbelief. Help us to remember that with you anything is possible and even a valley of dry bones can come back to life and dance.