Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live… Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act.Ezekiel 37:5 & 14
God did what God promised to do in Ezekiel 37 with the valley of the dry bones vision. God is truly God. When we realize what took place in that the exiles did return, we should also realize in that action the Lord’s continuing work and present reality.
The Spirt of God that was present, is present, and will continue to be present with us.
In the Gospel of John, we see the word “paraclete” translated as “advocate,” the Holy Spirit is our advocate. Advocates are great, we have some within our congregation whose profession it is to be an advocate. But the role of the Holy Spirit is more than just an advocate, the Holy Spirit is our comforter, helper, guide, intercessor, companion. These are all embodiments of the Holy Spirit that is with us.
Jesus says in John 14 that He is sending another “paraclete” because Jesus sees His ministry as that of a “paraclete,” the Holy Spirit continues the ministry of Jesus.
Pentecost is not a celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit, we see the work of Holy Spirit throughout the Old Testament, but Pentecost celebrates that the Holy Spirit is now universally available. This is in part why Pentecost is a celebration of the church’s birth. The Holy Spirit is poured onto all flesh. That is the newness of Pentecost, this universal outpouring.
To be a scattered people, whether it was the Jews in exile in the Old Testament or in our current day with the many churches who have been in exile during the pandemic, the Holy Spirit was and is and will continue to be with us, breathing life into us when needed.
When we regather in July it won’t be the beginning of church, it won’t be the Holy Spirit rejoining us, it will be the continuation of us being the church all along and having had the Holy Spirit with us all along.
When we regather, we are not recapturing part of what church was before. When we regather, it is the Spirit of God continuing to guide us, advocate for us, comfort us, teach us as we begin a new season led by the Spirit.
The people of Ezekiel’s restoration struggled to embody hope, as have all of us at times. But empowered by the Spirit, we are called to hope—truly, to faith, hope, and love.