The season of Lent is a paradox in many ways.

During Lent, we practice the spiritual work of waiting, while also continuing in our liberative resurrection work. We move toward Easter while also being mindful that the power, mystery and glory of it is with us already.

Lent is a deeply personal season of self-examination and reflection, and yet it is also a collective season carved out for us all. It is a journey we take together, even as we make room for our unique faith needs and experiences along the way.

Lent reminds us that we are working in collaboration with God and each other: in our justice work, in our sacred communities and in our everyday lives. Alignment with the way of Christ looks like collaboration with Creator and creation. We are collaborators in pursuit of bringing heaven to earth now.

Reading the interaction between God and the prophet in Ezekiel 37 (the First Testament text for the fifth Sunday in Lent) reminds us of these collaboration efforts.

Ezekiel is brought to the valley by the Spirit of God. He is led “all around” and looped into every part of the moment. He is asked questions and told to prophesy about what he sees and experiences.

Instead of God resurrecting the bones while the prophet observes, Ezekiel is empowered by God to do the life-giving work himself. In fact, it is Ezekiel’s prophesying that ultimately results in bone, flesh and breath.

Ezekiel’s posture of following, listening and acting results in life for many others. Throughout this powerful moment, God is ever near, offering Divine guidance, clarity and encouragement.

For many years, I have personally found comfort in God’s words at the end of this reading. To paraphrase, “I am going to bring you up from your graves. I will put my Spirit within you, and you will live.”

These beautiful, hope-filled words are even more powerful when we realize that every promise God makes ultimately comes to fruition through the prophetic activity of Ezekiel.

Creator working in collaboration with creation. Creation working in collaboration with Creator. This is the origin story of our faith ancestors. This can and should be our story, too.

We are not alone. We are not without guidance, clarity and encouragement. We are not without support in these times.

Though Lent can be an inward, personal season, it is also a collective moment that is meant to be shared between us.

We are not meant to walk this road alone. We are not meant to traverse the depths in isolation. We don’t have to carry our fears, worries and burdens by ourselves. God is ever near.

In this reading from Ezekiel, we see that God is always close by throughout their interaction. Further, Ezekiel’s prophetic words also point to an ever-present God who goes with us always.

Speaking to a people who were in exile, these promises of life, safety and home must have been incredibly comforting. God’s Spirit would be with them, no matter what and no matter where, meaning every spiritual resource would be with them as well.

The people would be equipped and empowered to face their circumstances because God would be with them. In collaboration, they could look to a vibrant future while also moving toward that future in the present moment.

So, the prophecy was essentially this: God is here. Even here.

And the same is true now. God is here. Yes, even here.

Among our daily stressors and deepest anxieties. Among our grief and our loss. Among political division and social turmoil. Among banks collapsing and natural disasters. Somehow, God is here. Even here.

During Lent, we practice remembering: “God is here. Even here.” We practice believing this somehow, someway.

Lent is a season of pause where we tend to the chaos of our own anxious spirits so that we can be reminded of God’s ever-nearness.

Here, we are reminded that like the ancient Israelites, we also have every spiritual resource needed to face the realities of these times and the realities of our own circumstances.

God is here. Even here. Working in collaboration with us, breathing life into us, empowering us to breathe life into others.

God is here. Even here. Filling us with the energy and vibrancy needed to sustain our work of heaven on earth.

Perhaps our dry bones could be resurrected in this season of Lent. In collaboration with Creator and creation, may it be so.

Editor’s note: This article is part of a “Lenten Lectionary” series for Lent 2023. Each week, an article will be published reflecting on one or more of the lectionary texts for the forthcoming Sunday. The previous articles in the series are:

Lenten Lectionary | I Shall Not Want? by Danielle L Bridgeforth

Lenten Lectionary | Expectations and Reality by Margot Hodson

Lenten Lectionary | Good News for Those Who Have Trouble Sleeping by Junia Joplin

Lenten Lectionary | Through the Wastelands by Christopher B. Harbin

Lenten Lectionary | Set Your Plow Deeper: An Ash Wednesday Meditation by Ken Sehested

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