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Can We Breathe?

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Can We Breathe?

Ezekiel 37:1–14 NRSV
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. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 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.” 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. 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. 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.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. 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.’ 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. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. 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.
Intro:
Back to back social injustices have compounded the trauma we were already experiencing.....
Ahmaud Arberry
Breana Taylor
The young black man in ramble park falsely accused by Karen with a bogus 911 call
George Floyd
And now we are experiencing Pentecost Sunday amidst Protest!
Ezekiel 37:1–2 NRSV
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. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.
According to the text.....
Ezekiel is now transported into this valley that is full of bones by God....
.....and God exposes him to what is a very hard reality as it relates to Israel and Judah
Because.......
.......at this time both Israel and Judah are ruined politically. Assyria has scattered Israel, and Judah has just been captured by Babylon.
(pause)
And the bible says....
God wants Ezekiel to walk around and take a look at some bones in this valley.
....and the text makes it very clear to us that Ezekiel is not seeing this valley of bones without God’s guidance
Because it says,
“God led me all around them!”
Meaning,
God is responsible for revealing to Ezekiel what he is looking at......
....and Ezekiel says that as he is walking around this valley his assesment of the situation is the fact that,
“........the bones are very dry, and that they are many.
(pause)
And Freedom family,
.......there has been another exposure to our very own reality regarding systemic racism in our country
(pause)
And,
God has most recently walked us around via mobile video recording and showed us....
.........and, this time it’s George Floyd with one white officer dropping his knee into the neck of our brother.
........while the other two officers are placing their knees in his abdomen, and lower sections of his body speeding the process of asphyxiation.
(pause)
And one thing that I am completely convinced of is the fact is that,
EVERYBODY has seen this!
(pause)
And it was not so much because everybody wanted to see it......
.........but God has led us all around this valley, and opened the eyes of Governors and grandmothers
.......and while some are reluctant to admit what is going on
.......the majority of us are now finally admitting that,
......these bones are dry, and they are many!
(pause)
And then the daunting task that God is assigning to us becomes evident in the question that is posed to Ezekiel in verse 3.
Ezekiel 37:3 NRSV
He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”
According to the text God asks Ezekiel,
“Can these bones live?”
Now.......
I need for us to see that God knows who God is talking to when God is speaking to Ezekiel...
Because God calls Ezekiel a “Mortal”
.........which means “Adam”
.......which means Humankind
.....which takes us back to the creation where God creates Adam
And there is only one emphatic point that I want to bring out here regarding God calling Ezekiel Mortal prior to asking him this question....
Because in Genesis 2.7 it says,
Genesis 2:7 NRSV
then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
In other words,
Ezekiel......
you are alive because of God’s doing!
You are formed because of God
You are breathing because of God
And so your humanity.......or your bones,
did not come from the hand of another person......
........but it came from God.
(pause)
And so.....
.......now that we have established this let me ask you a question,
“Can these bones..........live?”
(pause)
And on this week,
As God has led us all around the bones of our Nation.....
.....I have been listening to this question that sounds so simple, but at the same time,
.....it sounds so HUGE!
(pause)
The question has been REWORDED slightly, but at its core definition it has the very same meaning,
....because the question has moved from,
Can these bones lived?
to the wording of our African American community
Can we.............breathe?
(pause)
And all this week this question has galvanized conversations of clergy, leaders, families, and individuals
.........who are wondering and reinterpreting this question out loud, and to themselves,
How many marches do we have to march?
How many lives have to be lost?
Is not the responsibility of the police to serve and to protect.......
.......and if so why is his KNEE on my NECK when I am handcuffed and not even moving
(pause)
Oh......I hear the question
“Can these bones live?”
Even when Governor Coumo of New York says,
30 years ago my father spoke out against this, and 30 years later we are still here!
(pause)
Oh........I hear the question..........
When a white woman named Melissa McCrery who is married to a retired police officer speaks out urging that something has to be done......
Oh........I hear the question,
When Prognosticators of the Social Gospel are bombarded with the painful reality that as they are continuing a message of hope that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr proclaimed,
we are waking up from a “COLD SWEAT” because our Dream.........still feels like a NIGHTMARE!
(pause)
“Can these bones live?” or in the words of our 2020 vision of our current valley....
“Can we just breathe?”
(pause and expound)
And just like Ezekiel’s response,
We struggle........
We should know the awnser............
........We know that God is the giver of life
.......We know that God is the sustainer of life
.......We understand that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, and above all that we could ever imagine, ask, or think!
(pause)
But at this point......
......our response is just like that of Ezekiel,
(pause)
Because in my spiritual imagination I hear him saying....
God you know what..........
........I aint got an awnser for this one!
(pause)
......and all this week some of us who would really be completely honest would truthfully say,
.........this one is above my paygrade!
(pause)
Because......
I can’t tell you why we are here at this sad table again for the third time in three weeks
I cannot guarantee that the “REFORM” that is necessary, and the justice that should be ordinary will come swiftly........
(slight pause)
And that’s what I hear Ezekiel saying,
I hear him honestly saying.....
“God I really don’t know......”
(pause)
But.......
.........there is one thing I am sure of!
(slight pause)
“God..........
.........YOU KNOW!”
(pause)
In all of your omnisicient wonder......
In all of your omnipotent splendor.......
In all of your omnipresent Glory.......
(pause)
And.....
When life is PITCH BLACK......
.........and we are standing in what feels like IMPOSSIBILITY
......and we are struggling to find awnsers that we already know the awnser to!
(pause)
“God.............
..............YOU KNOW!”
(pause)
And watch the text.......
.....because in the next verse God starts talking again......
Ezekiel 37:4 NRSV
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
In other words I hear God saying to Ezekiel,
Ok......now that you understand my Soverignty
.......let’s talk about your strategy!
(pause)
God says to Ezekiel,
I want you to start talking to this dead situation, and I want you to say exactly what I tell you to say....
(pause)
God says to Ezekiel,
Step One - I need you to gain the attention of a dead situation!
And while we do not condone the destruction of public property and the wreckless tearing down of our very own communities
.........the reality remains that filing an insurance claim is much different from filling out a death certificate!
And..
........there is indeed a PROPHETIC awakening that must take place through what we are watching as a PENTECOSTAL PROTEST
......whereby the Spirit is quickening the Church and the Community to talk to this dead situation of Injustice that says,
“Hear the Word of the Lord!”
(pause)
In other words.....
Everytime the LIES OF INJUSTICE show up
......we have to STAND up in RIGHTEOUSNESS even higher
......and STAND on God’s WORD even higher
(pause)
And I hear God saying to Ezekiel.......
.....this is a Prophetic word that encourages truth telling
......because my WORD is truth
.......and if you start here we can start moving in the correct direction of TRUE RECONCILLIATION!
(pause)
And then God says to Ezekiel in verse 5,
Ezekiel 37:5 NRSV
Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
And so here’s the next part Ezekiel,
Tell the bones,
“God is going to cause breath to enter, and you shall live!”
(pause)
In other words.......
Without God speaking breath into the situation.........
.........the bones cannot live!
(pause)
And so God says........
“I’m getting ready to give you your second wind.........
........and I need you to live with what I’m getting ready to put inside of you!”
(pause)
And in my spiritual imagination I hear God saying,
I’m not giving you breath to die........
I’m giving you breath to live..........
I’m giving you breath to VOTE
I’m giving you breath to Speak against these injustices
I’m giving you breath to encourage and empower love and community
And so......
Everything you do with this breath needs to be associated with PROMOTING LIFE!
“And I promise you that............you shall LIVE!”
(pause)
Watch the text......
Ezekiel 37:6 NRSV
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.”
In other words......
I’m going to REBUILD you!
Everything you need to REVIVE you back to where you need to be......
God says,
tell that dead situation........
........it’s time to get dressed!
God is at WORK!!!
(pause and expound)
Look at it now....
Ezekiel 37:7 NRSV
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.
Freedom family.......
Get ready for the NOISE!!!!
(pause)
Because according to the text........
Once Ezekiel does as he is commanded.........
The entire valley started making a SOUND!!!!
(pause)
And if we really want to see a DEAD thing LIVE
Let’s DO what God told us to do!
Let’s speak PROPHETICALLY to our community, our leaders, and all socioeconomic systems and declare the WORD of God........
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.....
AND.......
........LOVE your neighbor as yourself!!!
(pause)
And so.....
.......you can’t say you Love God
..........but you don’t Love ME!
And....
........I can’t say I LOVE God
.......but I don’t LOVE You!
[OPTIONAL EXPOUND]
You can’t say you Love God.......
....by using the same knee you bend to pray
........and bending it into my neck!
(pause)
And...........
God says to us,
......that when we speak prophetically to these dry bones
(pause)
The Truth is going to make a NOISE!
.........and Ezekiel says in the text,
.......that the NOISE is distinct enough to have a SOUND that he recognizes...
He said,
It sounded like something was RATTLING in the BONES causing them to come together BONE to BONE
(pause)
And the foot bone connected to the leg bone
......and the leg bone connnected to the knee bone
.......and the knee bone connected to the thigh bone
......and the thigh bone connected to the hip bone
......and the hip bone connected to the back bone
........and the back bone connected to the neck bone
......and the neck connected to the head bone
(pause)
And the whole time there was a SOUND being made..........
........as LIFE was coming back
.......as the COMMUNITY of BONES were connecting
.......a SOUND was being made
(pause)
And......
Freedom don’t be afraid of the sound!
Because SOUND just means that something is in the PROCESS OF CONNECTING!
(pause)
And then the text says in verses 8 - 10.........
The bones are connected......
and the bones are fully dressed
......but we are not done yet!!!!!
Because at the end of verse 8 is says,
Everything is in place but we’re missing one MAJOR thing!
(pause)
“but there was no breath in them!”
(pause)
And Freedom here is what I hear God saying in my spiritual imagination......
We cannot afford to STOP at the point of CONNECTING the BONES.......
Because......
Life is not LIFE if we’re just here existing.......
(pause)
And the bible says....
........... that God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath....
And Ezekiel prophesized to the breath...........
And once EZEKIEL commands the breath
the bible says in verse 10......
“And the breath came into them!”
(pause)
Now Ezekiel let me ask you again.......
“Can these bones live?”
And I hear Ezekiel saying.......
God when you spoke.....
......I repeated it! (emphasize)
(pause)
And when I repeated what you spoke......
.......ACTION started happening swiftly!
(pause)
and the bible says.....
“And the breath came into them!”
Now watch the text......
“And they lived.......
.......and stood on their feet,
.........a vast multitude!”
(pause)
The text says......
When the Bones caught their Breath
.........they stood on their feet!
And so.....
Here’s my question..........
Now that you have caught your BREATH!!!
...........What are you going to do with it!?!?!?
(pause and CLOSING)
Because whatever you do with it...........
......according to the text involves causing these dressed up bones
..........to STAND UP ON THEIR FEET!
And so here it is......
“Can WE BREATHE?”
(pause)
Oh.....
.......And let me be VERY CLEAR just in case you missed me on this!
(slight pause)
I am not suggesting that we are to ask permission to BREATHE
.......because God has already granted us that right
(pause)
But........
What are we going to do with this BREATH that we have?
Because........
There is some VOTING that needs to get done!
There is some Truth Telling that needs to get done!
There is some STANDING that needs to get done!
And there is some SAVING that needs to take place!
....................................COMPLETION.........................................
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