Don’t play games with me. Some of us want to say that to the weather as winter whips back around and declares itself the winner this weekend.
Depending on the tone, “don’t play games with me,” could go different ways in our imagination.
1) The threatening tone of a mafia boss or overworked parent.
2) An impatient,” cut to the chase” of a busy or distracted colleague.
3) The pleading tone of someone afraid.
Maybe you can imagine more.
The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. -Ezekiel 37:1-2
It’s easy to imagine Ezekiel wondering, “What kind of game is God is playing with me.” There’s even a riddle,
He said to me, "Mortal, can these bones live?"
I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know."
The “game” becomes interactive……
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD."
Ezekiel decides to play along…..
So I prophesied as I had been commanded;
and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling,
and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.
Are you tempted to play yet? Maybe the sound track has started running in the background, “dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones”
But the big win is not quite in sight.
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."
And now Ezekiel is all in, swept up in the Creator’s playful anticipation.
I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them,and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
Wow, just, WOW! As Ezekiel catches his breaths, God gets very real.
"Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD…..I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live….. -Ezekiel 37
In our present reality gamification has become a way of life in marketing, health care approaches, education, work strategies, investments and more. "The gamification techniques are intended to leverage people's natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, …. to make existing tasks feel more like games. "
A life of discipleship offers an alternative to a life trying to navigate ever changing rule of the game. Discipleship is the quiet joy of sustaining passion over the long haul, when it’s not all fun and games. It’s a life of learning to stay with God's often odd approach until the moment of transformation comes.
Jesus wasn’t playing games with Mary and Martha in the raising of Lazarus (better late than never). His tears were as real as theirs (John 11:1-45). He wasn’t just fooling around when he delayed getting there. His confidence in God’s purposeful presence is clear. It’s even obvious that Jesus knew he’d ticked people off by not playing by expected rules and now they weren’t playing games abut wanting to stone him. Yet he speaks in apparent riddles:
"Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them."…. "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him."
Neither Thomas nor Martha were in the mood for games. But because they loved Jesus, they stuck with him while they tried to watch and learn.
Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."……When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him."
And in God’s very real play of creation,
Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
And Martha takes her turn as Ezekiel had so very long before.
She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."
Then, with thanks, Jesus entered the dance that Ezekiel had experienced so many years before.
…..he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." (John 11:1-45)
Easter has come. Easter is coming. It’s our turn.
BONUS Family activity: Arts & Crafts for Kids : Q-Tip/Cotton Swab Skeleton
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.