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Dem Bones is an old spiritual song, often sung to children,“Toe bone connected to the foot bone, Foot bone connected to the heel bone…’ Often forgotten, that is actually a gospel song, a spiritual, a “hymn,” so to speak. First publicly recorded by the  Famous Myers Jubilee Singers in 1928.

The lyrics are inspired by the tale to be found in Ezekiel, and the Valley of the Dry Bones. The rest of the lyrics actually go, Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around, Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around. Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.

And  eventually, “Dem bones, dem bones gonna rise again. Dem bones, dem bones gonna rise again.Dem bones, dem bones gonna rise again. Now hear the word of the Lord.”

A bit funny how much I cherish that song of old, how quickly it makes me smile, how profound it really is, how much it has taught me. Those are resurrection words, indeed.

“Sound” doctrine can have different meanings, one definition not detracting from another, but “sound” as in hearing, rhythm, repetition, and emotion, the fragrance of long forgotten things. Much of the bible was once sung by memory, having no printing presses at the time.

Watch the rabbis even today, still singing God’s blessings over people, “The Lord bless you and keep you;  The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;  The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”

I’m a huge fan of subjectivity, well, a fan of the Lord’s subjectivity specifically, the way He can use anything and anyone to speak to us. All in good humor here, but it can take some practice to learn to listen to Him, to recognize His voice, to know the difference between your own subjectivity born of simply eating bad pizza and a body probably soon coming down with the flu, and learning to grow still inside so you can actually hear what is not necessarily being spoken out loud to everyone else.

Music is a venue that is easy for us to understand. Most of us know what it is like to hear a love song, to close our eyes and to be carried back to another time, to the memories and emotions we felt when we first heard the song. Others are not necessarily all hearing the same thing we are. It is kind of personal and tailored to us and our adventures as individuals. It doesn’t happen on an intellectual level, on an intellectual level a song is just going “do wop,” sometimes literally, and those who have never been carried away by it are like,  I have no idea why this song is evoking anything in people at all. I sure don’t “hear” it.

God’s voice is a bit like that too, He speaks to each of us differently, in our own language. He’ll never contradict His word either, we have bibles to help us understand His character, His nature, to get to know Him, to weigh things against.

So it’s rather challenging for me to try to explain what “Dem Bones” means, the significance of that song, but through it I have learned that everybody serves a purpose in God’s kingdom, even our enemies, even the bad people. Everybody serves. All in good fun here, but some do seem to serve as a good warning.

Naturally I do not understand everything, but I do know that without Caesar suddenly demanding a census, prophecy would not have come true and Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem. Perhaps the wise men who came bearing gifts, provided the funds needed to flee to Egypt. King Herod, while sure issuing some evil edicts, did rebuild the temple.

The 23 Psalm is sometimes described as, “having confidence in God’s grace and care.” That can be challenging in the midst of a broken world.

The realization that even the bad guys will serve a purpose in God’s kingdom and in His plan, really helped to set my mind at ease, to help me trust in the Lord more. Seldom, so seldom do I remember to thank the Lord for enemies and for annoying people, and for those who seem to be just standing in the way of all decent human progress, but that really is the right mindset to cultivate.


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