These Bones Will Live

These Bones Will Live

The Day of Pentecost, Year B

Do you ever feel like planning for Pentecost is like planning a birthday party? This momentous day is almost here, and you find yourself rushing around, collecting all of the bright colored streamers and tablecloths, curating the best party playlist, and wracking your brain for how to make this one day extra special.

Ezekiel 37:1-6, NIRV

The Valley of Dry Bones

37 The power of the Lord came on me. His Spirit brought me away from my home. He put me down in the middle of a valley. It was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them. I saw a huge number of bones in the valley. The bones were very dry.3 The Lord asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Lord and King, you are the only one who knows.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones. Tell them, ‘Dry bones, listen to the Lord’s message. 5 The Lord and King speaks to you. He says, “I will put breath in you. Then you will come to life again. 6 I will attach tendons to you. I will put flesh on you. I will cover you with skin. So I will put breath in you. And you will come to life again. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”


Cardboard skeleton. (Separate the “body parts” or bones from one another beforehand. Be prepared to hand each child a different bone.)


Good morning! This morning’s scripture passage is all about bones. I have a strange question to ask you this morning. Raise your hand if you have ever broken a bone in your body. (Allow children to respond.) Raise your hand if you know of someone else who has broken a bone. (Allow children to respond.) When you break a bone, to get it to heal, the doctor might put that broken bone in a cast. Then, when it heals, the bone will connect again in all the right places in our bodies.

Today’s scripture passage is from the Old Testament and is found in the book of Ezekiel. During the time of Ezekiel, who was a prophet, terrible things happened to the people of Israel. The King of Babylon’s army took over the land. Many people were killed. Many people were forced to leave the land that they owned and went to Babylon to live. The people were so fearful in these living conditions. They were sad about their lives. They were so sad that they felt as if they were dead. They felt as dead as dry bones.

But then something amazing happened! The Spirit of God gave Ezekiel, the prophet, an amazing vision. Remember, a prophet is someone who hears from God and shares that news with others. Ezekiel saw a large valley full of bones that were dried up from too much sunlight. God told Ezekiel that there was hope for these bones. The bones would be put back together into whole bodies just as a cast helps broken bones grow together and heal in your body. These bones would again be filled with the spirit of life. They would live again! Ezekiel’s vision meant that the people of Israel should have hope even though everything had been going wrong for them. God would bring them new life.

I would like to teach you a song that will help us all remember this story from Ezekiel. The song is called “Dry Bones” or “Dem Bones.” Many different people have sung this song, including the Delta Rhythm Boys in the 1950s and Herman Munster on television in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, Schoolhouse Rock had a version on television; in the 1990s, this song appeared at the end of an Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. Have you heard of any of those performers? Ask your parents or grandparents to help you find those versions of this song.

To help us learn it, I have some props that I will hand out to some of you. I have taken this skeleton and separated the bones, one from the other. I will give each of you a “body part.” When I sing the song, whoever has that part connects it with the part that I mention. For example, if I sing “The toe bone connected to the foot bone,” whoever has the toe finds the foot and holds them next to each other. Let’s try it. (As you sing, you will need to navigate each “bone” to connect with the second one mentioned in each line of the song. If you have too many “bones,” recruit some adults or youth to help.)

Toe bone connected to the foot bone
Foot bone connected to the heel bone
Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
Ankle bone connected to the leg bone
Leg bone connected to the knee bone
Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
Hip bone connected to the back bone
Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
Neck bone connected to the head bone

Hear the word of the Lord.

Did you see what we did? We connected each bone to another, and at the end of the song, the body was intact. Individually, these bones don’t look much like a skeleton or body. But, when we connect them to one another, then it does look exactly like a body—a body that has the spirit of life, a body that is fully alive, a body that when fully put together can do extraordinary things for God!

This reminds me of how the apostle Paul describes each of us as “body parts,” in Romans 12:4-8 (NIRV):

4 Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose. 5 So also we are many persons. But in Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts. 6 We all have gifts. They differ according to the grace God has given to each of us. Do you have the gift of prophecy? Then use it according to the faith you have. 7 If your gift is serving, then serve. If it is teaching, then teach. 8 Is it encouraging others? Then encourage them. Is it giving to others? Then give freely. Is it being a leader? Then work hard at it. Is it showing mercy? Then do it cheerfully.

Paul is describing how each person in this worship space is uniquely different, but when we all come together as one body, we create the church! That means you have a place in this space. You are an extremely important part of this church. We all are! But it is important to remember that we must all come together, combining those parts, or the unique gifts that we have, to make the church a place that honors God in all we do.

When you looked at the “bone” you held in your hand, did you think what God-given gifts and talents were suggested by the body part? Maybe you held a finger bone, and you are a good piano player. How could you use that gift to honor God? Maybe you held a bone from the hand, and you are an excellent writer. How could you use that gift to honor God? What about the foot, or the knee, or even the shoulder? How can you use the unique gifts that God has given you to show others how much you love God? How can you be the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that needs to know how much God loves them? Remember, the

Foot bone connected to the heel bone
Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
Ankle bone connected to the leg bone
Leg bone connected to the knee bone

Hear the word of the Lord.

This morning, while we pray, I encourage you to think about the “bone” you held. I wonder what God is asking you to do with the unique gift and talent given to you. I encourage you to think about the extraordinary gifts and talents that God has given you. How can you use those gifts and talents to honor God today in this moment and this week until we meet again?


Lord, you created each of us and gave each of us unique gifts. Only you can bring hope of new life. Even when everything seems hopeless, you, O God, bring hope. Have mercy on those who suffer and offer grace to all. Allow us to use Dem Bones to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world every day of our lives. Amen.

Verses marked NIRV are from the New International Reader's Version (NIRV) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In This Series...

The Day of Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes