Engage all senses
Ezekiel 37: 1-14 (NRSVA)
1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. 3 He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ 4 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on 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.’
7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ 10 I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
11 Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 14 I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’
I always enjoy the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, even if I don’t always understand very much of the content. The latest were given by Professor Dame Sue Black, the eminent forensic anthropologist, and I am actually now reading her book
‘Written in Bone’, subtitle: ‘hidden stories in what we leave behind’.
Our very bones can tell stories – we have more than two hundred of them, and each
has its place and function, its history and its legacy.
Sue Black has been involved in many criminal investigations and some of the stories can only be described as grisly, but the dedication and meticulous care given to respecting the dignity and story of people of whom sometimes very little remains are both inspiring and affecting.
The dry bones to which Ezekiel was instructed to prophesy joined up and came to life again. This does not literally happen to us, but there are ways in which our senses allow us to bring ideas to life, through art and music, poetry and theatre.
Sometimes people who have an impairment of one sense have a very highly developed compensating sense. Ethan Loch who won the piano heat of the 2022 BBC Young Musician competition has been blind from birth, but has phenomenal hearing skills.
Our bodies are special unique miracles.
Now go and read Psalm 139! It uses poetic language to describe what Professor Black sets out as science
Verily, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
God of creation,
of our bodies,
of our minds,
of our souls,
give us grace, we pray,
to know you in the very fibre of our being,
and to give you our all.