Sermon – 02-09-20 -Epiphany V – Cycle A
Scripture: Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 112; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Matthew 5:13-20
Sermon Title: “Being Salt!”
The article in the Reading Eagle served as excellent coverage for our endeavor to do what we perceive to be God’s will in freeing ourselves from the burden and cost of maintaining a building that served generations in the past but is not a serving us well in 2020.
So we are very grateful to the Reading Eagle for taking the time and spectacular space to aid us in this goal that most of us agree is a necessary step in serving God well in Berks County.
If I had reminded myself strongly enough that, most times, subjects and the press come to stories from different angles, I would have been more proactive in telling the story from a “salt and light” angle (Matthew 5:13-20).
As was shared in the sermon on February 2, we are a mission-minded and mission-acting congregation, not a maintenance congregation. To keep ourselves from falling into a maintenance-minded congregation, we need to shed the money-eating and time-eating building. Some aspects of this move genuinely pain us and slide us into grief mode. But, to be the salt and light that we are challenged to be, we need our energy and financial resources to be used as Jesus is commanding. Else we will perish.
We have a great relationship reservoir that is flowing and not stagnant. May God help us to increase the energy and the vitality in our loving relationships with each other and, most importantly, a vibrant relationship with God – Father, Son Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
You came today so that we can share this salt and light idea from Matthew. The gospel is a living bunch of words. Let’s receive them.
Jesus said, “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.”
I say, “Let us not lose our saltiness!” How can we keep it? It will not keep itself. The Holy Spirit is the way. Jesus is the way. The father is the way. We cannot keep the salt by ourselves.
Think of the salt as what the world notices – like in the Super Bowl, in politics. Are we going to let the Super Bowl and politics steal all of the salt? Because few of us live in a monastery or in a cloister or in catacombs, the world catches our attention because we work in it, we watch it on TV and in movies of one variety or another. We even have friends who have the kind of salt that leads them away from God. Because we are not alert, we fall into the groove of their salt and find ourselves not analyzing the difference between church salt and world salt. We find ourselves knee-deep in the muck of social media.
How can we know what is God’s salt and what is the world’s salt? We need to ask God? We need to listen to God? We need to watch which works – God’s salt or the world’s salt.
What does salt do? Is it good or is it bad? We are told it causes high blood pressure. On the other hand, we are told that we need enough iodine for our thyroids and salt is a good source of iodine if iodine has been added to our cooking and table salt. Wow! But, Jesus says, we need to be salt if we want to be his followers, if we want to catch the attention of the people in the world who are waiting to hear that we have the light. We do have the light that overcomes darkness!
Without salt and light, our lives are flat and dark. We may be dazzled by the Super Bowl entertainment, by movies that are not approved by Jesus. We seek salt and light just as the world seeks salt and light. But, the world’s salt will do us no good – it only increases our blood pressure and leaves our minds crippled! The world’s light only lasts for a split moment in time and then goes dark and life goes flat.
Politics is exciting until we realize that we are being led by people who are not following Jesus. It is mind-boggling to read and listen and follow candidates in search of one who is worthy to follow and support. Have you found one who does not use foul language, the one who does not put another down, the one who is advocating a balance of realism and idealism? Please tell me. I have not yet found that person in this herd of candidates. I want to find that person. After all, there is a verse somewhere in the Bible that says God chooses the leaders of the world. “How can that be,” I say! I need to search for the context of that statement. By whom was it spoken? Did God direct that statement? What was happening around that statement? “Wisdom,” I cry out. “Come to us. Find us.”
I picture a sive – you know the kind we use in the kitchen to press the matter to be separated for different uses. I see all the world’s wisdom, all the world’s salt, all the world’s attractions in a sive mixed with God-salt, God-wisdom. It is all there. All the grains of salt, all the brightness, in one big sive. We want to separate the usable wisdom from the unusable wisdom. We want to see what is pure enough to pass through the holes in the sive. That is the goodness; that is the holy salt and the holy light. Pure!
Then, what do we do with this pure salt and light, this wisdom. I know! We find beautiful jars with lids that we make as tight as possible. We certainly consider this salt and light and wisdom to be precious. We shall not lose a pinch or a beam or a morsel! Absolutely, treat it as the holy of holies. Sure! Preserve it like pickles.
Oh help us, God! From our Hebrew reading for today: “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.” I can perceive God to continue, “Unscrew those lids. May the salt and the light and the wisdom escape from those jars and flow into the streets and the by-ways as a river. May this river heal the physically and the mentally and the spiritually sick. May the river reach out its arms and hand clothing to the unclothed children of God. May the river assuage the thirst of the thirsty and fill the souls yearning for the word of God.”
God continues in Isaiah 58, “Then you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”
I say, “Congregation of Zion UCC in Womelsdorf, are we ready to be the salt and light that God is waiting for us to be?” Amen