It is my unproven; unscientific; anecdotal belief that most people in our Nation know a handful of Old Testament Bible stories, even if they don't know they know them. Obviously the Creation story and the 10 Commandments — even if they don't know the Moses part of it !. Thanks to A.L.B. they know about Joseph and his coat, they might know 'Passover' is something to do with Religion but not sure what, thanks to Heaven Almighty (and toddlers toys) they will know about Noah; his ark and the 2 by 2, some might know something about Lions and I believe 'most people' know about this Sundays Old Testament reading, probably without knowing it is from the Bible.
The song Them Bones; Them Bones them Dry bones....may be a little dated, but the ankle bone connected to the knee bone is still recited by generations of people. SEE the LINK in this Email if you want reminding about the song. or allegory to far and suggest that 'our nation feels God has abandoned them in this Covid 19 crises' because many of our nation abandoned God years ago — just like many of Ezekiel's people. But there are some similarities in a state where people feel isolated; unable to do what they feel they should be doing; unable to worship in the way WE would wish to do. "How do we worship God in a strange land?" says the BONEY M song.
Ezekiel's people learnt that they could still worship God where they were and WE can do the same. They could still pray and sing with those close to them and so can we. They couldn't use YouTube or the internet but WE can. They couldn't email each other with messages of love and hope but we can. They didn't even know about Jesus and the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, but We do.
We know, as the Lazarus story tells us, that Jesus Wept when his loved ones died, he felt their pain and anguish. We too can weep with those who are facing real difficulties and pray for those who fear or face bereavement. Jesus also showed HE has the power to conquer even death and give an ETERNAL HOPE.
So, lets reflect on how WE can breathe HOPE into our communities, even in isolation. How can we 'keep peoples spirits up'? We can light candles; we can colour rainbows; we can make phone calls and send emails — or face time for those cleverer than Ezekiel and me ! We can still sing songs, just like they did in Babylon, as well as pray. We can even tell people we are praying for them! Some of us may be able to deliver practical aid in medicines and food. ALL OF US can save lives by Social Distancing and remembering what Emmanuel really means..... even if we live alone we are never alone.
Of course for Ezekiel's vision to become a reality his people DID return home and returned to COLLECTIVE WORSHIP and that has to be our vision too. A time when WE can all return to worship together as the BODY of Christ. We are all CONNECTED to each other, not isolated bones but part of a living body of Jesus.
Let us do what we can to BREATHE NEW LIFE into our communities so that we can worship together one day, with new people added to the body through their experiencing Christ's Body at work.
Finally back to the Heaven Almighty film about Noah and the Rainbow which concludes with 'god' telling Noah that ARK really means Acts of Random Kindness. Wouldn't it be great if, from this Virus, ARK became a sign of HOPE and New Life by becoming known as Actions of Regular Kindness where Christians take the lead in showing LOVE IN ACTION, not just in CV19 times but in the New Age to come!.
God Bless and keep safe... Rev. Keith