Year A, Lent 5, 2017 – It’s Alive!
Hello and welcome. Lightning flashes and thunder booms. The electrodes and gizmos in the lab hum and hiss while sending bolts of energy into the air. And into the hideous figure that is strapped to the operating table that has been hoisted to the top of the castle’s high tower. The mad doctor stands beside it all, wide-eyed with anticipation. The table is lowered, and the doctor checks the body for any signs of…. Wait. Could it be? Yes. Yes! It’s alive. It’s ALIVE!! BWA HA HA HA!!!!
As a species we are fascinated by stories where mere mortals struggle against the inevitable power of death. Ghosts, vampires, zombies, and of course Dr. Frankenstein are chilling characters of life and death gone wrong, and we love to be terrified of them. But in this week’s scripture lessons we find a very different way into the same question of whether death really has the final word. Ezekiel finds himself in a grisly valley full of bones, and God tells him that they will live. Paul writes to the Romans that focusing on the flesh leads to death, but the Spirit gives life. And Jesus demonstrates to his friends the truth that he is the Resurrection and the Life by raising Lazarus from the dead.
Lent is a season when we confront our mortality and sin, eagerly awaiting the coming Day of Resurrection when in Christ we will be justified and made truly alive. These stories point us right at that Day.
This week’s texts are:
Ezekiel 37:1-14 [01:59]
We found so many things to do with this passage! Time dictated that we limit ourselves, so we tried to keep it to four Smarts, but we just couldn’t pick between the last two options, so here are five. In Word Smart, we suggest playing with some words that illustrate the dryness of the bones. Sam Spade makes an appearance in our special effect. For Eye Smart, pull out the maps! You might go with images of valleys full of bones, but keep in mind that the bones are human ones. With the amount of human devastation happening all over the globe both now and in the past century, we urge some sensitivity to going this route. We also have a short video of an artist’s interpretation of what Ezekiel saw. Keeping with dryness, we have a link to the effects of dehydration in Body Smart. We suggest leading a guided meditation as a special effect – which also pulls in Eye Smart and Self Smart folks. Music Smart is a rich treasure of illustrations; we have links below, and I am certain you will be able to find many ideas on your own! And finally for Nature Smart, we thought illustrating the dryness of the bones with natural desiccants might grab your naturalists, plus the special effect could be fun!
- Smarts – Word [03:02], Eye [04:12], Body [05:57], Music [07:14], Nature [09:37]
- Ezekiel 37 worksheet
- Links in Ezekiel 37
- Eye Smart –
- Body Smart –
- Dehydration is serious stuff.
- Music Smart –
- Dem Bones James Weldon Johnson
- A version by Shirley Caesar
- Delta Rhythm Boys sing the version with which we’re most familiar
- National Taiwan University Chorus for something different
- Fats Waller has a bluesy version
- A clip from The Singing Detective
- A poem – Coming Back to Life Again
- A poem – Turn Again to Life
- A.P.P. the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project
- Nature Smart –
Romans 8:6-11 [11:41]
Paul wants the Romans to understand that the way they live is a life or death matter, and he wants them to choose life. We look at the phrase “set the mind” in Math Smart (and also Eye Smart, which is not in the podcast, but we added some links below). We have an illustration and two special effects that might help engage the logical minded in your congregations. I was intrigued by how the phrase “dwell in you” worked in three Smarts for this passage, and in Body Smart, you may use the illustration how athletes or yogis or other people who use their bodies a lot get “into the zone.” We also have a video you might want to use as a special effect. For Music Smart, there isn’t anything particular in the passage itself except for Paul’s insistence that a life of discipleship is something that is practiced all the time – like a musician might always be playing an instrument or composing. David composed a free verse poem of the passage that is linked below. For Nature Smart, we have a natural analogy that will really get people’s attention if you do it as a special effect! Be sure you have a fire extinguisher handy, and take all proper precautions. For People and Self Smart, we return to the phrase “dwell in you” and have some questions for you to use.
- Smarts – Math [13:01], Body [15:16], Music [16:33], Nature [17:15], People [18:38], Self [19:56]
- Romans 8 worksheet
- Links in Romans 8
John 11:1-45 [20:18]
Keeping with the sheer amount of stuff we gathered from the two previous passages, here is yet another bountiful harvest. We have an illustration using double exposure in Eye Smart and a special effect you can download below that shows all the movement happening in this chapter. (Hint: LOTS). We have two suggestions in Music Smart and two very interesting articles in Nature Smart. The Jews coming out from Jerusalem to mourn with Mary and Martha made me think of all the times people arrive at houses with casseroles or cookies as an expression of sympathy. In People Smart, we have some links for really great ideas you might want to look at and maybe even incorporate into your caring ministry if you aren’t already doing something like them. I was very impressed. In Self Smart, we wonder what it would be like to have Jesus love you so much he would tremble and snort and weep at your grave.
- Smarts – Eye [21:40], Music [22:57], Nature [24:15], People [25:31], Self [27:03]
- John 11 worksheet
- Links in John 11
- Eye Smart –
- Music Smart –
- Nature Smart –
- People Smart –
- Self Smart –
Image Credit: Copyright: patrimonio / 123RF Stock Photo. Used by permission.