“Then he said to me, “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.’” So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.” Ezekiel 37:9-10
This past weekend Pastor Marilyn referenced a vision a friend had about dry bones. This vision was in reference to the story of the valley of dry bones found in the book of Ezekiel chapter 37. Something in this message of dry bones sparked my interest to revisit this scripture and reflect on it more as it relates to the times that we are living in today at First Church in Watertown. In the scripture, the prophet Ezekiel is taken by the spirit of the Lord to a valley of dry bones and the Lord asks Ezekiel if the bones can live. The Lord then asks Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones that the breath would enter the bones so that they would come alive. The Lord asks Ezekiel twice to prophesy over the bones. The first time the bones are covered in flesh and skin. But the second time, the breath enters their bodies and they stand up and become alive.
Throughout this scripture the word “breath” struck me as a key word for us to focus on today. In our world today of a COVID pandemic, many who are sick with the virus are struggling to breathe. Essential workers who need to wear masks for hours on end have shared how difficult it can be to breathe while working in a mask. In our own community we have seen weather extremes and high winds blow up dust storms that have made it hard for us to breathe even in our wide-open spaces. And still others, who are practicing physical distancing and self-isolation due to fragile immune systems may have felt at times like the walls in their homes were closing in, making it hard to breathe as well. While in the news, we have heard of others experiencing physical oppression, crushed to the point where they could not breathe. Breathing and breath, such an important part of living and life.
But this story of dry bones, which seems so focused on death and hopelessness, instead shows us how the spirit of God breathes new life into dry bones. We see how the spirit of God renews and empowers these bones to become living beings, pulled up from their hopelessness and despair to live out their divine purpose as the chosen people of God. The spirit of God speaks to the bones through the prophet Ezekiel and the Lord acts to make the bones come alive to live a life renewed by the spirit. And this same spirit of God which breathed life into the dry bones of old in the Bible, is still blowing amongst us today in our times as well. This same spirit is being spoken of through our pastors and prophets today to bring new life to those who hear and receive the breath of this spirit. This same spirit is available to each of us today to be renewed for a new purpose as well. And this same spirit is working through each of us to renew and bring hope to others.
This coming week, I would challenge you to take a moment to practice some deep breathing during your time of meditation and prayer with God. As you breathe, imagine you are being filled with the breath and spirit of God. As you breathe, imagine that First church is being filled with the breath and spirit of God bringing renewed life and purpose during this time of pastoral transitions. As you breathe, imagine that the spirit of God is blowing among us during these times of altered ways of doing everything in our lives. Breathe in deeply over and over again to never forget how the spirit of God is always with us, breathing new life in and through us with a message of hope and a sense of purpose for all.
Children’s Ministry Coordinator
THIS WEEK’S ANNOUNCEMENTS:
THE WAIT IS OVER—-PASTOR JEN STARTS HER MINISTRY WITH US ON JULY 1st!!
While we are extremely excited to welcome Pastor Jen, given COVID 19’s continued presence in our community, our welcome for Pastor Jen will need to be modified. Our Leadership Team is holding a Welcome Parade on Thursday, July 2nd from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. In order to help Pastor Jen get to know us, we encourage you all to bring a card and include a picture of you and your family with your name on it. Note: Map of parade route below.
We will continue to hold in-person worship service on Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 10am. We will continue streaming ONLINE worship services on Saturday night at 5pm and Sunday morning at 10am. To participate in any of the ONLINE worship services, please go to the Church Facebook Page at: www.facebook.com/watertownfirstumc or the Church Website at: www.watertownfirst.church/watch. *Please note, we will have worship on both Saturday and Sunday as usual this 4th of July holiday weekend. Hope to see you there!
“On A Journey” is our July sermon series led by Pastor Jen Tyler. We hope you will join us for worship either in person or online.
Coverage during Pastoral Transition: Between Pastor Sara’s departure and Pastor Jen’s arrival, Pastor Marilyn Spurrell will be providing coverage. You may contact her through the church office. Please call 605-886-4427 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Church Building: The church will be available for scheduled small group gatherings and appointments. For now the church will be closed during unscheduled times. Appointments/gatherings can be scheduled by calling the church office at 605-886-4427 or emailing the Church Office at: email@example.com.
Church Office and Pastors Continue to be Available: Our office manager is in the office to answer phone calls during normal office hours Monday-Thursday and a pastor is available in case of a pastoral emergency 24-7.
NOTE: Pastors are still unable to visit in person at Prairie Lakes Hospital. We can visit via phone. Please contact the church office if you or a loved one is hospitalized.
Church Finances: We’ve had a number of questions about how COVID-19 will affect the financial health of the church. The church’s financial health will be dependent on its members and friends making an intentional effort to continue to give. There are several methods available for giving. You can mail your tithe and offerings to the church at: First United Methodist Church, PO Box 1416, Watertown, SD 57201 or give online at: www.watertownfirst.church/giving-back.