Ezekiel 37:1–14 (NRSV)
Chapter 37The 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. Verse 2He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. Verse 3He said to me, "Mortal, can these bones live?" I answered, "O Lord God, you know." Verse 4Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Verse 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. Verse 6I 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." Verse 7So 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. Verse 8I 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. Verse 9Then 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." Verse 10I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Verse 11Then 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.' Verse 12Therefore 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. Verse 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. Verse 14I 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 have always had a hard time throwing things out, especially when it comes to wood scraps. If there’s an 8-inch piece of trim board left, chances are I’ll put it in the garage for “when it’s needed.” But if I’m honest, I rarely go back to those leftover scraps. I’ve admired artists (like George Morrison, Grand Portage, Minnesota, Anishinaabe artist, who made paintings out of wood, or John Beaver, scrap metal sculptor in Camrose, Alberta) who take bits and pieces and make something beautiful out of them.
God our Creator is an artist, who takes the ultimate scraps—the bones of the whole house of Israel—and shapes them into “a vast multitude” that stands on its own after being cut off completely. Beyond any human artist, God the Creator breathes life into the bones and brings them back to life.
God of the scraps, we praise you for creating beauty out of the leftover parts of our lives. Thank you for breathing life into our scraps so that we, and the whole creation, may be revived. Amen.