Writing to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul echoes the poetic truth from Psalm 130: “We cannot live by our own strength. We cannot save ourselves—who could stand if we tried? To focus on gaining salvation by our own flesh is to focus on death, but to focus on what the Spirit can accomplish is to focus on life” (ap).
Paul then references an image Jesus uses in John 15: “You are in the Spirit, because the Spirit abides in you. You belong to Christ, because Christ dwells in you. Because the Spirit is in you, life is in you, because God gives life through the Spirit just as life was given to Jesus for the resurrection” (ap). Like a vine that relies on its roots and branches to have life, God, the Spirit, and Christ work together for life. “Remember,” Paul says, “that you are part of the vine and the roots and the branches—you cannot have life on your own” (ap).
Some days, I lose sight of the Root that grounds me in God’s mercy. My spirit feels tossed and tumbled by self-doubt, by envy, by the rat race that says I am only good enough if I am ahead of everyone else.
Some days, I lose my perspective on the Vine that flows with Christ’s love. My hope is short-tempered, my grace for others is limited, and I wonder whether people will ever stop warring with one another.
Some days, I fail to remember that I am rooted in the Branch of the Spirit’s delight. My fear overthrows my faith and my heart loses its courage to fly because it sees the risk of falling.
Yet somehow the Spirit encourages me to set my mind on joy, Christ reminds me that love will never run dry, and God points out that I don’t need to chase after peace.
Triune God of Root, Vine, and Branch, I confess that I lose perspective too easily and forget to love my life in you. Amen.
Ezekiel sets the stage for the readings this week. In a vision, the prophet sees a seemingly hopeless situation, yet God restores flesh to the bones and brings them back to life by breathing into them. The psalmist calls out to God from the depths of devastation and waits confidently for God’s redemption. Paul plays off the double meaning of the Greek word pneuma: “breath” and “spirit.” Just as Ezekiel’s dry bones are brought back through the breath of God, so are we raised through the Spirit of God. The Lazarus story provides a bookend resurrection story for the week. Here Jesus demonstrates in the physical realm the spiritual realities described in the other passages. These resurrection stories point us toward Jesus’ resurrection and ultimately the promise of our own.
Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. When have you heard from God directly or through others in times of devastation? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 130. How can you listen for signs of hope and look for God’s voice?
Read Romans 8:6-11. What helps you remember that you cannot save yourself and to put your trust in God?
Read John 11:1-45. When have you been disappointed in God’s timing or response? What would be different now if God had met your expectations then?
Responda publicando una oración.