Monday, March 10, 2008

Sermon Ezekiel 37: 1-14 "I See Dead People"

Sermon Ezekiel 37: 1-14  “I See Dead People”


Wal-Mart is an interesting place. Not only do I spend half of my earnings in there, it is one of the best people watching venues in all of America. Everybody goes to Wally World. Admit it! You know it’s true! While I was there the other day I rounded a corner and ran into a good friend of mine, Pastor Don Palmgren from Church on the Rock. We were enjoying a few shallow pleasantries when… Movie Clip – I See Dead People

… a dirty, young man began to walk up the aisle. I could tell by the pale color of his skin, the weaving gait and the glassy look in his blue eyes that he was an addict. As he approached us he recognized Don and said hello. Immediately, Don asked him how he was and very honestly that young man relpied, “Not so good, I’m in over my head, I can’t get out” hopeless, desperate, empty. There before us in flesh and blood stood a walking dead person.


It was a dark room in the high school. A girl of sixteen, mother left her with friends a few months back, never knew her dad, now homeless, with no where to go except to juvi. Here sat someone overcome by the consequences  of others sin, circumstances she couldn’t control. She looked me in the eyes, a very healthy, pretty face and cute little outfit on… Movie Clip – I See Dead People …and said, “What have I got to live for, nobody wants me?” hopeless, desperate, empty. There on a small couch with her knees pulled up to her chest in a little ball rocked a flesh and blood dead person.


I sat in the bleachers of a 5th grade girls traveling basketball game. And one of the fathers sat next to me and as we cheered on this little team he began to talk about his day. Drive to the city at 6 AM, work in an office until 4PM, drive home, pick up kids, grab a bite of fast food , hit one of the many sporting events, where he sometimes meeting his wife unless she’s carting another one of the children to another event. Then a mad dash home, everyone shower and to bed. His head hits the pillow and he barely mumbles good-night to the love of his life much less giving thanks to or even thinking about God… Movie Clip – I See Dead People …without looking up he said under his breath, “some life huh?” Then barely audible he added, “No life really” hopeless, desperate, empty. There was zero indication that this man had called out to the GOD WHO COMES THROUGH. There beside me in flesh and blood sat a dead person.


Sunday after Sunday they went to church. They smiled and they shook hands. They attended Bible study and potlucks, IMAGE IS EVERYTHING. And each time they left the building he opened the door for her, she would nod her head in thanks and they headed for the car …

Movie Clip – I See Dead People ... loathing each other. The marriage started out wonderful, fun, fulfilling but as time went by they began to hate everything about the other. It was an empty relationship AND NOTHING GOD CREATED IS MEANT TO BE EMPTY. They stayed together for the kids, the kids grew up. Then they stayed together for the grandkids and the family. Now, they just stayed together and they had no idea why … hopeless, desperate, empty. And when they would sit across the table from each other there in flesh and blood were dead people. 


Text Ezekiel 37: 1-14


Ezekiel was kidnapped along with about 10,000 of his Judean brethren and taken to exile in Babylon. His wife died sometime after this gruesome event. And there he was homesick for a community that had been burned to the ground; longing for a wife whom he had buried; and called to be a spokesperson to his own people about impending doom. How much worse can it get? What a hopeless, desperate, empty existence. The Lord takes Ezekiel and drops him right in the middle of a valley where there was nothing but old dried skeletons. This would be a CSI nightmare. Thousands upon thousands of bones scattered, unburied, and long dead. As he began to walk through the valley Ezekiel could hear the crunch, crunch, crunch under his feet and felt nauseated. And God asked Ezekiel “Can these bones live?” What a crazy question, “Can these bones live?” Of course these bones CANNOT live, Ezekiel just mashed three dozen into the ground as he walked 20 feet. The worms have even left the area! There’s nothing left but dry, white fish food. IMPOSSIBLE!!! But Ezekiel happened to be CLOSE ENOUGH TO GOD TO KNOW HIS VOICE, so he answers, “O Lord only You know.”


And God says, “I hope your voice is well oiled today because I want you to preach to these parched, dehydrated, dried out bones. Say to them, “I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live. I will lay flesh on you and cover it with skin. You shall live and know that I am God.” Now, old Ezekiel may have stood there blinking unbelievingly…  But He GOT UP AND GOT OUT, choosing obedience, doing what God told him to do. He began to proclaim, to holler, to shout and to stomp around like any good preacher. But then I think he got quiet as a mouse, stood still and trembled with excitement because all of a sudden those bones began to make a rattling sound, move, then dance and came together. Bone to bone, then flesh and skin covered them over. What a sight, it was incredible, unbelievable, there laid people.


Ezekiel looked around in confusion. Where did God go? We got bone, we’ve got tendons, muscles, veins, hair, teeth and eyeballs but there’s no life. Just flesh and blood dead people… Movie Clip – I See Dead People. Then the voice… that Ezekiel knew and trusted said, “Hey, Ezekiel call the breath, my breath, my ru’ah and tell it to breathe on these stiff, dear departed, dead carcasses. Ezekiel didn’t have to be told twice he begins to prophecy to those corpses and the breath of God Almighty went into them and a vast multitude lived! Nothing is impossible for God!!!


That same day at Wal-Mart I saw Tomas with his son, who he has brought with him faithfully to church. As a matter of fact for many years now Tomas has brought friend, after friend, after friend and along with the entire Hispanic class, lead by Laura they have introduced those new folks to the life giver. The walking dead are dead no longer. As a matter of fact they’ve gone to different states, even different countries with the sweet taste of Jesus in their mouths and his breath in their bodies.


Just a little while after I had sat with that pitiful teen-age girl, I attended a band concert at the High School. At that event Jesse Strickland and Sadie Welhoff, proclaimed life to the friends who sat around them. And Ben, a brand new Christian, introduced me to friends he’s introducing to the life giver. We have young people, teachers and administrators walking those halls with the ru’ah of God respirating through them and from them.


At the same time as the father of that 5th grader was lamenting about the dead busy-ness of his life. There were families sitting nearby who had learned to depend on the One who breaths the Spirit in them and on them …then follow his leading with the stewardship of time… enjoying abundant life as a family. A breathing example that God can show us how to be alive in the midst of the circumstances of everyday living.


And the couple who stayed together as dead people…swallowed their pride, got on their knees and asked for forgiveness from God and each other. They begged for the Spirit to fill them and God in his mercy did it, overflowing their love for each other. And now at seventy they are an inspiration to struggling couples, breathing out what God breathed into them.


Do you realize those dry bones didn’t know God, but God sent someone to them that did know Him … to proclaim Him to those cadavers. And there are young people, old people, church people, busy people and street people who are hopeless, desperate and empty, the walking dead are all around us. “I see dead people.”


I would venture to guess that there are dead people in this very service today. People who are dead in addiction and it can be any kind of addiction: drugs, alcohol, porn, … or even work or family.

I believe there are dead people here today who because of the circumstances beyond their control feel like there’s nothing to live for.

Maybe there are dead people here because life has gotten so busy, so overwhelming you don’t even have time for relaxing with the people you love the most much less with the Lord.

Could it be that there are dead relationships all over this building, oh, you’re committed but it’s empty? If so, the Life Giver is ready to fill you with His Holy Spirit and give you breath, please…please open your heart and receive it.


And for those who are in this place who have received this life already, we are the Ezekiels of today. We proclaim God’s Spirit to the dead and He will give life. The miracle of the valley dry bones can happen in our work places, our shopping places, our schools, our homes, our church, anywhere … that Holy breath can come to the flesh and blood dead.  When God breaths into a person, they are filled with life. When God breaths into me and into you we have life! It doesn’t matter how dead, impossible, improbable, unachievable, hopeless, despairing or empty a life is … God can resurrect it. The flesh and blood dead made alive.