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    • Feb8Wed

      Tasty and lit up!

      Bringing zest and spice to the table of the world February 8, 2023 by Sebastian Meadows-Helmer
      Filed Under:
      Pr. Sebastian

      You are the salt of the earth.

      You are the Light of the World.

      These words of Jesus to us are some of the best known words of Jesus.

      They almost fail to jolt us and inspire us anymore.

      How about this way of saying it: you are tasty and lit up!

      Or as in Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Gospel text:

      You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.

      You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.

      Now that’s more like it!

      These are radical words that Jesus is addressing us with.

      They inspire us to get up and get going, and be radiant, spicy followers of Jesus, 

      not Wonder Bread consumers of Sunday religion.Let’s talk a little about salt and light today.

      One of the first things that’s interesting about these two proclamations is that Jesus does not say: You should be the salt of the earth, and you should be the light of the world.

      Because that’s what we tend to hear when we read this passage. 

      But Jesus says instead: you are (already) salt and light of the world. What a difference!

      You already are salt.

      As good Lutherans, we would say: Yes, amen. We are through our baptism.

      It is a reality. As God’s children, we are marked by the sign of the cross.

      We cannot help being salt and light for the world.

      Another interesting thing to note is that Jesus is using second person plural here. 

      He’s saying you all (plural) are the salt and the light of the earth.

      You all. 

      You, the community of the gathered

      Jesus is addressing us as a community, challenging us.

      Not just as individuals.

      What is our mission as a congregation?

      How are we, as a group, as a church, salt for the earth?

      Certainly a good question to ask on Foundation Sunday.

      I think our mission statement points us in the right way: 

      Being salt is “sharing God’s love as a caring faith community.”

      You all are the salt of the earth!

      And of the whole earth, not just KW or Ontario.

      But if the salt lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? 

      It is then good for nothing.

      Wait a minute….can salt lose its saltiness?

      Well, that depends who you ask.

      Some scholars say this is referring to impure salt, 

      maybe salt that wasn’t refined sufficiently (in Jesus’ time),

      (that would include lots of other rocks and minerals in the mixture that weren’t salt,)

      and then from this impure mixture masquerading as salt, sodium chloride (pure salt) has leached out.

      So that’s how salt could lose its saltiness…because it really wasn’t pure in the first place.

      Others disagree, and say that salt can’t lose it’s taste,

      that actually, pure salt is always salt. It cannot lose its flavour.

      Think of it, even if you put salt in’s just diluted. 

      The water has become salty, even if by a very small amount. Sodium Chloride will always be sodium chloride, even in solution.

      But, assuming Jesus is talking metaphorically, in picture language, 

      and not as a chemist, 

      then how can one lose one’s saltiness?

      Perhaps by adapting too much to the secular world: 

      using too much business talk, administrative talk in the church. 

      Some might say we need more word of God, 

      Gospel talk, Bible language. 

      Some might say sermons are too bland, with not enough fire 

      (although hold the brimstone). 

      One of the problems these days with the term “salt of the earth”, 

      is that we don’t think how jarring and strange 

      it must have sounded for Jesus’ listeners.

      These days we say “oh he’s a salt of the earth person..he’s a good person”. 

      It’s a sort of nice comment.

      These days, salt is very cheap.

      A buck a box.

      But in Jesus’ days it was incredibly valuable. 

      Wars were fought over salt. 

      Slabs of salt were used as currency.

      So in Jesus’ time, saying: you are the salt of the earth, 

      it probably had a very different effect to the hearers’ ears.

      The image we should be using instead is:

      you are the cayennepeppers of the world

      you are the habañero peppers of the world!

      You give zest and spice and heat to the world!

      That more adequately captures the spirit of Jesus’s words.

      You add spice to the life of the whole world.

      What if Jesus were speaking our language?

      Would he say to us:

      -You are the apple pie of the world

      -you are the fresh baked bread of the earth

      -you are the Lindor of the planet

      While all those examples are pleasant,

      I think hot spice is probably the closest image that we should use.

      I think as Lutherans we could use a little more spice in our faith lives.

      A little more getting out of our shell, 

      -risking a little more to talk about our faith,

      -dancing a little more when a drum plays in church,

      -praying a little more often and more fervently

      -hands in the air, even if it’s just … a finger….or two…

      You are the light of the world.

      We certainly have many hymns about light this morning: 

      Our Gathering Hymn:talks about how new light is streaming in this place where we gather,

      And in a minute, in the Hymn of the Day:

      We are called to rise, and shine because Jesus brought us freedomn, light and life and healing.

      All these hymns hopefully get us into the mood of talking about light.

      In Ancient Israel, God (and God’s light) was the source of light.

      In Christianity, we say that Jesus is the light of the world.

      But here in our reading,how are we to understand that we are the light of the world?

      How can this be?

      Some would say:

      -the church is the light of the world by genuinely proclaiming Christ as Lord.

      -or manifesting his life in its life.

      But the one I like best is:

      The church is the window through which the light can be seen.

      I’d prefer just to be a window or a mirror to Christ’s light, 

      than to claim to be the light, Jesus’ words notwithstanding.

      It’s a lot more manageable idea to be the window for Christ’s light.

      Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.

      Salt in soup dissolves, but gives taste.

      Self-giving leads to greater life.

      Salt and light don’t exist for themselves: but for others.

      Salt in a saltshaker is all nice and good, 

      but only when it comes in contact with the food is it of any use.

      As followers of Jesus we are called 

      and invited to bring our zest and spice to the table of the world.

      To inspire, help and nurture those who are in need 

      of what we have to offer.

      To glow, and provide light for those who are blind 

      or are stumbling around in darkness.

      To let people know they’re loved.

      To point to the source of our hope, Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

      So that people on the street say: wow, those are salty people!

      There are exciting ways to be salt and light in our congregation

      and also in our community.

      I’m sure we can continue to find ways.

      You are tasty and lit up.

      Let it show!


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