Tuesday, February 8, 2011

light and salt...this past weekend's sermon.

February 6, 2011

Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
Psalm 112:1-9(10)
1 Corinthians 2:1-12(13-16)
Matthew 5:13-20

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. 

I love to cook…mostly meals and savory dishes, not so much sweets, except for the occasional cookies or on a special occasion: a cake.  What always surprises me, when making sweets is the addition of salt.  I mean, if I’m making something sweet, why would I add salt….a tart flavor saved for chips, popcorn or French fries. 

Yet as I watched more and more cooking shows on the food network, I saw it more and more often.  Many of you may know the reasoning behind it.  It brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.  You don’t add the salt to taste the salt itself, you add the salt to draw out the flavors of the other ingredients…like the chocolate, mocha, vanilla or caramel. 

Now that I understand that, I even add a pinch to my oatmeal when it’s bubbling away on the stove, to help bring out the flavor of the oats, apples and cinnamon. 

You see, salt isn’t the showstopper here.  It isn’t the flavor you want to taste, it isn’t what you want your diners to taste like, but without it, the rest of the flavors would not be highlighted. 

There once was a king who had three daughters.  He wondered how much they loved him.  The one said that she loved him more than all the gold in the world.  The king was impressed.  The second daughter said she loved her father more than all the silver in the world.  That pleased him, too.  The youngest said, "I love you more than salt."  He was disappointed.  The castle cook overheard the conversation and decided to do something in defense of the youngest girl.  The next day she left out all the salt in the king's food.  The food was tasteless.  Then he knew what his daughter was saying to him.  She loved him so much that without him, like salt in food, nothing was good.

Salt is good…in moderation.  For if you add too much salt to a sweet or a savory dish, all you will taste is salt.  Yuck!

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

As Jesus’ message to his disciples continues on from the beatitudes, which we heard last week, he speaks to them and he speaks to us...about the call to live in the world around us.  He uses images of salt and light, two things with which we cannot live without. 
Yet these are things that help, not to highlight our good deeds and actions.  But they help us to show others God’s presence in the world around us. 
Christ’s presence in the world is an example of God’s amazing love for us. 
Jesus was born a human being and lived with us, healed us and taught us how to share this message with others. 

As salt and light in the world around us, we are not here to point out our good deeds and to save all of humanity.  Jesus was sent into this world to save us.  Jesus calls and empowers us to let Christ’s light shine through us…that we may light the path for others…that we may let the light of Christ shine through others around us.  

Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.  We hear those words at a baptism…a reminder that as we were brought into the body of Christ through the waters of baptism, that is when we received our call to live our lives to the glory of God. 

What we do in our homes, schools, jobs and in the world is not to puff up our egos, or show others how awesome we are, but all that we do is to the glory of God. 

How are you called to let your light so shine…that is glorifies God?

How are you salting the earth, the world and the community through the gifts that God has given to you? 

One of the things that stood out to me the first time I worshipped here, or should I say slightly scared and definitely surprised me happened at the end of worship. 

The worship leader says, go in peace, serve the Lord!

And I am used to people saying, thanks be to God!  But then you all add…WE WILL! 

You are reminding me and each other, that what we have heard, seen and done in this place strengthens us for ministry in the world around us.  It empowers us to share our gifts with friends, family and strangers.  It invites us into ministry in new and exciting places.  It encourages us to light the way for others to see Christ.  It allows us to use the gifts that God has given to us for the glory of God and for the good of our neighbors, our community and our world. 

I had the opportunity to hear the presiding bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson, speak at the Indiana-Kentucky Synod Assembly last June.  He commented that when he was in parish ministry at the beginning of worship, he would invite the congregation to ask one another how they served the Lord during the previous week.  At the end of worship, we are accepting a call to serve the Lord, why not share with others how we have done that when we gather together? 

Being salt of the earth is so simple we may not even realize we are doing it…anything we do to the glory of God is salting the earth. 

It may be lifting your voice in song in the choir.
It may be tutoring a child in our Overtime program. 
It may be sharing a smile or kind words to someone waiting in line for the Food Pantry. 
It may be in volunteering at a youth or community event. 
I think often salting the earth is seen in our offering that doesn’t fit in the plate. 

Think of all the ways God empowers us to be a light and a presence to others…the possibilities are endless. 

So go from this place…thinking about the places where you have helped light the way for someone…or a way you have helped season the community….and continue doing that and more all for the glory of God. 

And now may the peace which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, Amen. 

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