Lent is probably my favorite time of the year. Thanks to my youth pastor and mentor of 15 years, Steve Case, I take this season very seriously. As a young person in his youth program, Steve worked hard to involve us in the Lenten journey that leads to Easter, however, he did this by making Good Friday real for us and for others.
The way he used to explain it to us was that you couldn’t have Easter without Good Friday. That is, “you have to have a dark to stick the light in.”
I must admit, this Lent has already felt like a really long and really dark Good Friday service. It’s as if I see death and dying everywhere. So much so that I have had a hard time celebrating all the light and new life that is around me.
They say Spring is here but I do not yet feel it.
Instead, I feel as if my bones are dry. And the sinews that once made them strong and the flesh that once covered and protected them has been torn away, bit by bit, revealing something weak and riddled with disease.
Ezekiel 37:1-14 speaks of something similar – a valley of dry bones. As one of our focus texts for this 40 day period, I have been confronted by this image over and over again. A valley of death and dying. And yet, in the story, the Spirit of God asks, “can these bones live?”
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. [The spirit] led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and lo, they were very dry. [The spirit] said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?”
This question is more real for me this Lenten journey then it ever has been. And sometimes I worry I won’t make it to Easter to experience the Resurrection I so desperately need.
I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then [the spirit] 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.”
A few weekends ago, I attended the Louder Than A Bomb Team Finals competition hosted by Young Chicago Authors. LTAB is the largest youth poetry slam in the world where over the course of a month, nearly 1,000 youth from more than 100 Chicago land area schools will come together to participate in an Olympic style poetry competition, in hopes of being one of the four teams on the finals stage.
This is one of my favorite events of the year, so it has become an annual event for our youth group #sorrynotsorry (is that still a thing?). Each year we go together to hear the stories of these young poets and prophets. And like every year before, these young people PROPHESIED to us!
Speaking new life to topics like bullying, teen suicide, mental illness, family separation, poverty, racism, gun violence, and environmental destruction. Check out the group piece below entitled “Wreck-It Rahm,” which has since gone viral.
And check out WBEZ 91.5 for live recordings from years past.
Hearing these young prophets speak was like a taste of Resurrection for me. They prophesied to my bones! Each poem was dedicated to honoring their dead by confronting so much of the death dealing powers in their lives. And yes, each poem provided a resounding YES to the question, can these bones live?
If you haven’t been to Louder than a Bomb before, I suggest you put it on your calendars for next year. And if you can’t make it to Chicago for this event, take time to find a taste of resurrection near you. God is doing amazing things all around us, all the time, no matter how dry our bones might feel.