Dem Dry Bones: Preaching, Death and Hope

by Luke A. Powery. Fortress Press, 2012.

Much preaching today avoids the topic of death except in funeral sermons. This book by a pastor and scholar asserts that the sermon that cannot deal with death - the “big” death all mortals face, and the “little deaths” of daily suffering and disappointment - cannot provide the hope people seek from the sermon. Drawing upon Ezekiel 37 and African American spirituals, Powery paves the way for a homiletical approach that James Forbes calls “a ministry of raising the dead.” He argues that spirituals, or “musical sermons”, offer unique insights into the way hope works. They provide a vocabulary for expressing hope despite the nearness of suffering and death. He says, “The Gospel truth is that life is real but so is death, and death is the context out of which hope grows.” “Dem Dry Bones” is for preachers who seek an authentic voice to address life’s tough realities.