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April 23, 2017

Sermon: Presbyterian Heritage in Cuba: New Life

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Scripture Lesson

Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:38-44

The Valley of Dry Bones
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 bones. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.’

Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

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Sermon Outline

Rev. Jonathan Swanson
Presbyterian Heritage in Cuba: New Life
Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:38-44

I. Introduction: Hagar the Horrible
II. Heritage Sunday
III. Ezekiel’s hope (Ez. 37:1-14)
     A. A people in exile (37:2, 586-563 BC)
     B. The vision (37:1-10)
     C. The interpretation (37:11-14)
     D. Observations
         1. God creates new life (37:10)
         2. Israel has a future (37:14)
IV. At Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:38-44)
     A. Lazarus is really dead (11:39)
     B. The raising (11:43-44)
     C. Observations
         1. God creates new
         2. Lazarus has a future
V. Cuban Presbyterian heritage
     A. The beginnings (1890)
     B. The War of Cuban Independence (1895-98)
     C. Fidel Castro (1961)
     D. In 1990
         1. God brings new life
         2. The Cuban Presbyterian Church has a future
VI. Central Presbyterian Church
     A. The situation
     B. God creates new life
     C. Central has a future
VII. Conclusion: Elie Wiesel: Whom do we trust? (John 11:40)


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