Summary: There are places we dislike, graveyards and dead churches. Each of these places have the same message. This sermon helps us to overcome this message that might be crying out in our congregations




Have you ever walked through a graveyard at night? It is a quiet place. It is a place of reflection and fear. It is a place that we avoid at night. We do because of all the dead bodies in the ground. You are reminded of the silence voice of the dead. You cannot hear it but it screeches in your ears. The message is loud and repeated. The message is what keeps us away from graveyards at night. The message is “you will die too.”

Have you ever walked through a dead church on Sunday morning? It is a quiet place. It is a place of reflection and fear. It is a place that we avoid on Sunday morning, but not because of dead bodies in the ground, but spiritual dead bodies in the pews. In the church building, you are reminded of the silence of the voice of the dead. You can hear it in your ears. The message is loud and repeated. The message is what keeps you out of dead churches. The message is “you will die too”.

If you are like me you want nothing to do with a dead church. Dead churches are all round this nation. I have been in them. I have preached in them. And I have seen congregations die. And to be part of a dead church is to be part of dying yourself. In certain congregations you get the sense that a church is dead or not. There is this feeling in the church. It is an atmosphere in the building when you go to worship.

Recently, my father-in-law was traveling to Edmond to see the family for Christmas. On the way back they stopped at a little church for worship services in the morning. When they showed up there was maybe two people at the building. They went in and sat down. As soon as they did, an older lady, the only person in the church at the time turned around and asked “Is your church liberal or conservative?” No hello, no where are you from, but just a point blank question. Liberal or conservative---what is the answer? Nick said “conservative” which in these cases is the best answer because probably this is what the woman was hoping for. After the answer the woman shot back, “we are a liberal church.” After the services where the man who was to preach did not show up, and after a man got up and gave a lesson from the moment. The people left. Nick made a wise comment. “This was not a liberal or conservative church, it was a dead church.”

And what do you do to insure that this congregation never becomes part of the living dead. Fortunately God gives the answer in a vision to Ezekiel. It is the vision of the valley of dry bones. It is a vision of how people who are dead can come alive again. The text tells the story in Ezekiel 37:1-14 “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. And He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, Thou knowest." Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, ’O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’ "Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ’Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. ’And I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’" So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew, and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ’Thus says the Lord GOD, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life."’" So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ’Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ "Therefore prophesy, and say to them, ’Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. "Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. "And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it," declares the LORD.’"

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