They said last Monday was the blue Monday, it is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Cliff Arnall, a former lecturer at Cardiff University was commissioned by the UK travel agency in 2005 to find the most depressing day of the year as a way to market winter vacation. So he figured out all the statistics and everything came together. And then he said that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year. I don’t know how accurate that is, but January is not an easy month to get through for many people. Christmas spirit and cheer has worn off and you have likely broken your New Year’s resolutions. By this time, 75 percent of Canadians break their resolutions for that year. Also, it is cold outside and your post-holiday credit card statement has arrived. So considering all of this, the third Monday in January, is the blue Monday. You know sometimes life can be depressing, especially when our needs are not met.
When our stories are ignored and where our emotions are not validated and rejected. Life can be depressing. I can be as good as that person, but people never recognize me. They always recognize that person, but they never recognize me. Always. She’s more popular than I and people listened to her and that people pay attention to her but not me. So whenever you experience these kinds of injustice or unfairness in life, when your stories are not heard, when your emotions are not validated, it can make life depressing. I read an article on Thursday about why Oscar nominations are so biased towards white actors. It was written by Cameron Bailey, you probably know him as the artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival. This was an article written by him and he said, it’s about who’s experiences count, whose stories get told, who’s emotions in the movie theater are validated and are amplified by awards and who’s are rejected or ignored. Right now there is controversy in the academy awards, which resulted in Will Smith saying that he was not going to attend a protest against the academy. Spike Lee and Michael Moore did not want to attend. because the last two years straight there was no nomination for the black actors, not a single one. There was one British woman actress actually said maybe black people are not good actors. And Michael Caine “They got to be patient”, patient for what? Anyway, we can see how black people are treated in the United States very well. When you read the book “Between the World and Me Written” by Coates, Ta Nehisi, the columnists at the Atlantic. It’s a good book. Read it. I highly recommend that you read it. It was just told as it is.
Sometimes we are insulated in our own culture, in our own small surroundings. We don’t know what’s going on out there in the world. The kind of things that black people experienced in the United States. In the book, he said, just because you have a black body and only for that reason, your life gets ignored, threatened and treated like a criminal. When we finished this passage at TBS (Thursday Bible Study), just two weeks later, a famous black tennis player, was standing in front of an expensive, luxurious hotel in Manhattan and all of a sudden police came and they pinned him down on the street and arrested him for no reason. So when you have a black body, you’re guarded, your thinking “what’s going” on all the time. So when you receive that kind of unfair treatment, and injustice in your life, even if you receive only one unjust action in your life, you will guard yourself. Sometimes it can be depressing. Life can be depressing. When this happens we shrink, we become small. We get angry. Why are these things happening to me? When you receive that kind of unfair treatment anger rises up within you. But soon I realized that the anger does not remain as anger. If anger remains as anger. It will be energy or power, but the anger does not remain as anger. Anger turns into helplessness and powerlessness. Immediately you feel angry, but soon that anger turns into helplessness and powerlessness.
That was what the Israelites experienced at the time of Ezekial. They were invaded by superpowers around them. I’m sure many small countries in the world experienced that the by the superpower country, the United States. Especially with this oil crisis and all that, a lot of small countries will be affected by that. Israel at that time was invaded continuously and threatened continuously by the superpower countries around them. You know, when I was in seminary, I was seriously thinking about studying Jews and Koreans because they share a similar history and similar experiences. Korea was also very much invaded and threatened continuously in their history, thousands of years by the superpower countries around them. And they were once also invaded and then colonized by them. And the Israelites experienced getting colonized as well. They lost their land, their identity, their home and their families. They were completely cut off from their hope. They said “We have no hope. We have no temple. We have no nation. We have no identity. I lost my family, my sisters and my wive’s were raped. We have nothing to look forward”. That’s how they felt. At first, they felt angry, but soon that that anger turned into helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. Ezekiel saw that powerlessness and helplessness in this way. This is what he said. “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 bowls”.
Restoring the Spirit
Ezekiel was a prophet and he also experienced this kind of injustice, powerlessness, and helplessness. Somehow in a vision, he saw dry bones in the valley. It was like the spiritual condition, mental condition or national condition of the Israelites at the time. The dry bones in the valley, but Ezekial proclaimed this: “Yes, I see dry bones in the valley, but God did not leave them there alone in the valley. God did not ignore them. God did not ignore the injustice God did not ignore people who are oppressed by the power of this world”. That’s why God sent Jesus Christ to us. When we suffer from our own sins and misery, and then the difficulties and the way we are suffering in the valley, God did not leave us alone. God sent Jesus Christ. Jesus came down into the valley and then lifted us up. And that’s what Ezekial proclaimed God is not going to leave them alone there. God saw the helplessness and powerlessness of his people and God chose Ezekial and told him “Go and restore the spirit”. That is our God. Whenever you are helplessness, powerlessness, and hopelessness, God will lift you up. Restore Your spirit. God told Ezekial to go and restore the spirit of my people, and Ezekial said “How? How do I do that? How do I restore the spirit of the people”. And God said “Speak to them. Speak to them. Speak the word to them. Prophesy.”
“Does that make any difference? They are dead and dry bones. Speaking to them. They don’t even listen to me. They can’t even listen to me. Speak to them?” (Ezekial talking). “Yes. You speak to them” (God responding). And Ezekiel, spoke prophesy to them and this is what happened when he did this. The breath came into them and they lived and stood on their feet a fast multitude. When I wrote that tears flowed from my eyes. I wrote this on Thursday at 5:00 in the morning. As soon as I wrote the tears flowed from my eyes. Dry bones, dead bones stood up. They overcame their helplessness and hopelessness. They stood on their feet, got opened their dark graves and brought them up from their graves. Yes, life can be gloomy. Life can be difficult. At times we feel that life is not fair. We become weak and small. We shrink and we feel a tremendous loss, and experience hopelessness. I’m not going to sit there. I’m not going to live like defeated soldiers. I’ll protest that. I’ll never do that. I hope that you never do that either. We need to stand on our feet. We are not alone. God is with us. God speaks to us. We have God’s word with us. They’re the people who live by the word. You are Ezekiel prophesying to each other. We need to prophesy to each other. We need to bring each other out from our graves. We should be Ezekiel to each other. Let us not put others down. Who are you to do that? Let us not kill each other’s spirit with our poisonous attitude.
Be a Prophet
Our circumstances can be gloomy, but we have each other and we have God and we have this community. Prophesying, that’s what we do. We breathe life into each other. Prophecies are not about fortune telling about the future. Prophecy is speaking breath into each other. Simple words of encouragement. We speak to each other. That’s what prophecy is. Whenever we gather together, we need to prophesy to each other. At the prayer retreat, I realized how powerful words can be. Words have power. We share our words of encouragement with each other. Every Friday we gather together. We prophesy to each other. During TBS we prophesied to each other. Every Wednesday, women gathered together. We prophesy to each other. We strengthen each other. We empower each other. I realized that the words have the power. If you don’t have the words, you cannot resist. You cannot protest against your own powerlessness and helplessness. The world is full of injustice. How can you reconcile that? How can you reconcile and live on? If you have the word, then you’ll have the power to protest against that. That’s why the scripture says gather together as often as possible, so if you have every opportunity to learn the word, come. Only on Sunday, it’s just a ritual. You got to learn about the word. You got to speak the word to each other.
Let us be a prophet to each other and we’ll stand together on our feet and will fight against injustice that is going on around us.