Worship at Home for Sunday, March 26, 2023

Dear Friends,

We are nearing the end of the Lenten Season and our preparation for Easter. This Sunday we reflect on the valley of dry bones from Ezekiel and the raising of Lazarus.

New These Days devotional guides are available for April, please let me know if I can deliver one to your home. If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

  • Eastern Association Meeting Saturday, March 25 at 10am at St. Peter’s in Washington
  • Youth to Lost Valley Lake on Sunday, March 26, talk to Carol Nowack for more information.
  • Bell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • Wednesday Lenten Worship at 6:30pm
  • Confirmation after Wednesday Worship, No Choir on March 29
  • Sunday, April 2 is Palm Sunday and Confirmation


Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture: Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45

Sermon: These Bones Will Live

Bones, what do you think about when you hear the word bones? Do different phrases pop in your mind such as: dry as a bone, bone weary, chilled to the bone, bad to the bone, good bones, bad bones. My pets keep trying to dive into the trash can for left over chicken bones. Doctors will order up bone density scans to ensure that a person’s bones are still strong. Broken bones hurt and take months if not years to heal. Calcium supplements are often recommended for making bones strong.

But what a about a field full of dry bones? What sort of catastrophe would cause a valley to be filled with dry bones and why did the hand of God bring Ezekiel there? The book of Ezekiel is filled with many visions that are troubling like this one. Did you know that some Jewish traditions say that only those over 30 may read the book? With scenes like this it is understandable that it would be felt that only a mature person would be able to handle visions like these.

Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet who lived in the time when his hometown of Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. He was living in exile in Babylon when the hand of God set Ezekiel down in a valley full of very dry bones. If this had happened to me, I would be terrified. When God asked Ezekiel, “Mortal can these bones live?” Ezekiel gave the only answer he could, “O Lord God, you know.” (Ezekiel 37:1-3)

I have never been placed in a valley of dried bones, but I have known fear and despair. I have known times when I was afraid to move because my emotional and physical state was like a field of dry bones. Could my dreams that had died  with my loved ones in the valley ever live again? Would there ever be life, hope and joy?

Then God commanded that Ezekiel speak words of prophesy to the bones. If it was me, I would wonder about this. You mean that you want me to speak to a bunch of bones. The last time I checked, bones don’t have ears. But this is God, so okay. This is what God said, “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 up on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath I your and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord. “ (Ezekiel 37:4-6)

Ezekiel repeated God’s words to the bones. And guess what? The bones stood up, regained their human form, became filled with God’s breath, and lived. What was a valley of despair turned into a valley of life. Still a bit frightening, but in a hopeful sense.

The story about Lazarus being raised back to life by Jesus is one of death and despair returning to hope and life. The deep grief that Mary, Martha, and their community felt over Lazarus’ death was real and relatable. All of us have grieved for loved ones. Grief can feel like being in a valley of dry bones that only God knows will live again. Then Jesus did something that only God can do, Jesus called for Lazarus to come out of the tomb. And Lazarus did. Jesus truly is the resurrection and the life.

Our community suffers from grief. Each of us has our individual losses that leave us distressed. Currently we are suffering from community wide sorrow, loss, and confusion. Police officers in small rural communities are not supposed to be shot. SWAT teams are for big cities. We are frightened and standing in a valley of dry bones.

But we have each other, and we have God. God is working through all of us to heal. We are healing in the fund raisers that our held for the Sullentrup and Griffith families. We are healing as we console each about our fears, griefs, and concerns. God is there with us in the hugs, prayers and promises. God will bring new life into our lives, church, and community. Jesus is the resurrection and the life we will all stand and live. Dry bones are no match for a Holy Spirit empowered life.

Prayer: God breath your breath on us today and empower us to really live. Amen.

Prayer list: Elizabeth, Cheryl, Dave, David, Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, Bobby, Kevin, Jim, Darryl (doing better!), Marilee, Beverly, Jim, Jenny, Jaqueline-Dixon’s daughter, Kirk, Barbara, Mitchell, Mahala, Mary, La Rae, Bud, Tyra, Marilyn, Tom, Jeff, Jesse, Kate, Kyle, Carmen, Sandy, Gary, Terry, and for peace.

Special prayers for: Officer Sullentrup and his family
Danny Rice as he mourns Bernice Rice

The Mason Griffith family as they mourn.