This Week’s Theme
The Valley of Dry Bones
At a time in the history of Israel when many doubted God’s desire to restore his people, Ezekiel prophesied to the nation, in exile. Deprived of her land, with her population in exile in Babylon, it must have been easy for the people to think that, for all intents and purposes, they were gone, dead, over as a nation. Without a land, a king, and a temple, she seemed hopeless, finished.
In the midst of that depressive state, the hand of the Lord came upon Ezekiel the prophet. God brought him out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set him down in the middle of the valley, which was full of bones. The Lord led Ezekiel around them; there were many, many bones on the surface of the valley, and the bones were very dry.
The Lord said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” to which he answered, “O Lord God, you know.” The Lord then commanded Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon 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.”
With this, Ezekiel prophesied as he was told, and as he prophesied, there was a sound, a rattling, and the dry bones on the surface came together, bone to its bone. And as Ezekiel looked, sinews came upon the bones, and flesh and skin covered them. However, no breath was in these bones; they were mere flesh-covered skeletons.
Then, the Lord again told Ezekiel, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’” On obeying the Lord, prophesying as God commanded, breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
The Holy Spirit of God, given as a gift to the Church after the ascension of Christ, is the Lord and Life-giver of God’s kingdom community. Without the Spirit, we are lifeless, hollow, shallow, dead. With the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, we now can know God’s heart, experience victory over sin, understand the Scriptures, overcome the flesh, and defeat the devil’s lies. Now, Christ is in us, and we can honor God through the Spirit who now has made us God’s children.
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Breath of God, without you we are dead, dry bones! We confess that apart from you we have no life. Give us life in Christ, the conqueror of death. Fall fresh on your people and on our world.
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.
Praising Our God
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
Listening to His Voice
Chronological Reading for the Day
Thursday: 1 Chron. 26-28
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling
Responding in Faith
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Departing to Serve
Make us, O blessed Master, strong in heart, full of courage, fearless of danger, holding pain and danger cheap when we lie in the path of duty. May we be strengthened with all might by thy Spirit in our hearts.
~ F. B. Meyer, 1847-1929
Encyclopedia of Prayer and Praise, p. 93.
Affirmation for the Day
Meet us in the valley of despair, O God, and help us to stand on our feet as your army.
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Thank you, Holy Father, and Jesus our Lord, for granting us the gift of the Holy Spirit, which you have put within us, and through whom we live.
For Your Weekly Journey
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
Why Jesus Came into the World, John 9.1-41
Phillips, Your God Is Too Small