Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out.
I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs;
I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it,
in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar.
Under it every kind of bird will live;
in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.
This prophetic poem brought to us by Ezekiel marks such a time in the life of the Israelites. They are in exile, everything seems lost. Homes and family, ritual and temple, the tradition is frayed and the people are broken. And then God speaks these unbelievable and beautiful words, claiming that God will lift up a living and breathing piece of Israel, a tiny sprig of their former selves and God will plant it on a mountain top. This tiny sprig will spring forth with life so abundant and glorious, so expansive and safe that the whole community, in all its mess and diversity, in its brokenness and beauty will take comfort and make a new life in it.
This is God’s promise. Even amidst rubble and devastation God will act. Ezekiel makes the claim that God says, this is such important work that I will do it myself. God will move in and breathe on even the tiniest bit of life until life begins again. It may start as tiny seed, a sprig, an ember. But life will catch on,and life will come back, and life will bear fruit. Yours will. And so will mine.
When you’re beginning again:
May you remember that God is working with you,
and never against you.
May you experience God moving in your grief and devastation,
seeking out the sprigs of new life and planting them in rich soil.
May you live in the shelter of God’s bounty
until you can once again bear fruit,
and when you are bearing fruit
may you be the shelter for the ones who are beginning again.