Please make a special effort to be in church for Palm Sunday on the 13th.
Today’s Lenten Lunch is at St Paul Lutheran Church at 12 noon.
Art UMC members will be helping the Food Bank distribute hope, love, prayer and food. Please arrive about 2.45 pm so we can review how we pick the boxes, and pray together. We try to finish promptly at 5 pm. We will work next week on April 14th-16th (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). We need everyone to help make this service to God a success.
Jack Sikora has a birthday celebration on Apr. 11th. Jackson Calhoun will be one year older on Apr. 15th and Jordan Dyess will celebrate his birthday on Apr. 16th. Have a really great party!
Pastor Cliff announced that Jack and Lynn Sikora arrived safely at home in Connecticut. May God continue to watch over them and bless them greatly.
Ladies of Mason: It is time to start making cookies for the Kairos Prison visit after Easter. Start now; we need a great many hundred dozen cookies. Package them and leave them in the church freezer. They will be picked up on Sunday, Apr. 27th.
Pray for those working on the Art Church ramp, a Mason nursing home, and community jobs.
Choir practice for Easter is on Apr. 9th.
Continue to pray for Marian Leifeste, Etta Marie Mutschink and Dorris Ann Pierson.
The Mason Community Choir will be performing the Easter Cantata at St Paul Lutheran Church on Palm Sunday, April 13th, at 6 p.m. The Gospel scripture for the 5th Sunday of Lent was Ezekiel 37:1-4.
Pastor Cliff titled his message “Ruthless Trust”. These are the words of Pastor Cliff.
Some brief context: The Jewish people experienced two major exiles, the Assyrian Exile and the Babylonian Exile. After Solomon’s reign, Israel lost their unity, and split into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom was composed of ten tribes, and was known as Israel. The southern kingdom was composed of two tribes, and was known as Judah. We talked about the first major exile - the Assyrian Exile, in 722 B.C. when we were understanding who the Samaritans were, and why the Jews considered them the worst of the worst and mortal enemies. Assyria conquered the ten northern tribes of Israel and took them into exile.
The Babylonian exile took place in 597 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar crushed Judah including Jerusalem. It is described in 2 Kings 24:13-14: “all the treasures of the house of Yahweh, and the treasures of the king’s house, and all the vessels of gold. He carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen; none remained, except the poorest of the people of the land.”
So, the land promised to Abraham was gone. King David and all that “power” was gone. Solomon’s Temple was gone. And now, even the citizens of Judah went into exile. Nothing was left.
God had called Ezekiel to be priest and prophet to the Jewish people. Today’s reading is when God calls Ezekiel to look at the destroyed kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the valley of dry bones. Ezekiel, chapter 37, verses 1 to 4: “The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. God led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.” Then God asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign LORD,” Ezekiel replied to God, “you alone know the answer to that.”
Then God said to Ezekiel, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD! (Ezekiel 37:1-4)
God took Ezekiel to the valley of dry bones. So there Ezekiel stands, in the valley of the dry bones, when God tells Ezekiel: in verse chapter 37, verse 9, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’ Ezekiel obeyed God, but only because he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
In the 5th Sunday of Lent, we are invited to trust God. We get to hear God say, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones-- all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ Therefore, prophesy to them and say, This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the LORD. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land.’ (Ezekiel 37:11-14)
In that valley of dry bones, there was no one there to hear that except Ezekiel. And God heard Ezekiel’s obedience. Ezekiel trusted in GOD. God used King Cyrus of Persia to allow the Jewish exiled remnant to return to their homeland and to rebuild Jerusalem. You can read about that in Ezra.
In the 5th Sunday of Lent, have you asked God to use you to bring life to the dry bones in the Kingdom of God? You are called to repent from ever saying “that’ll never happen”. The first words of Jesus were: “The time promised by God has come at last! The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
That is our God. I pray that we can all ask God to fill our dry bones that we might see, and build, the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. This is our prayer. Amen.