Almighty God, you have promised when two or three are gathered that you are there, May we have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts open to you prompting – Amen
Jesus tells us /“You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world”/
What do you think of when you hear that said?
I am going to make a bold assumption and say… most, if not all, here today are Christians
And so as followers of ‘The Christ’ hearing a segment from Our Lord’s most substantial sermon – whereby He declares that /“You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world”/
What do you think of…?
And how does that make you feel?
You will excuse me, considering the week of weather that we have had – that when I hear that; I think of all the salt that has been used on the roads and walkways
But then my second response is that; I think that the words wash over me – that they don’t take root
I hear them… – but I don’t really think about them – I think that I disassociate myself from that part of Jesus’ teaching
Again making an assumption, I think that many of you might have the same experience
Why is that?
Why do we hear the bible when it tells stories, (incidentally 40% of the Bible is considered narrative and if we include historical accounts then the number moves upward beyond 70%)
Why do we connect with stories but then let Jesus’ claims on *us *pass by
Here, we have God in the flesh giving *us* identity… and with that identity we are also given purpose
Why don’t we connect with that?
It is puzzling, don’t you think?
I think that there are numerous reasons why that is the case for myself, and I suspect many of you
Fill in the blanks for yourself if you hear the words of Jesus but don’t let them take root in your heart
Never-the-less Jesus says; “/YOU are the salt of the earth… YOU are the light of the world”/
So let’s take some time and get a better understanding of what our Lord has named His students
We today can buy salt in so many ways and get light by simply flicking a switch, that the metaphors have lost some of their importance
In my house alone, we have, of course, table salt used for cooking and flavouring
We have road salt used to melt away the snow and ice
We have special salt for our water softener
We even considered getting another salt to replace chlorine to keep our pool sparkling
Our ways of lighting are even more vast and diverse
Beyond the fancy & not so fancy innumerable light fixtures, the things that house the light
There are incandescent light bulbs; fluorescent, halogen, the environmentally friendly CFLs, LEDs and the list goes on and on – not to mention light from the gas fireplace or even the simple light from candles
Salt and light for us in the modern world is easy
But in biblical times when people were more connected with the elements of the world, Salt and Light carried a much more significant role
People, 2000 years ago did not have refrigerators or ice cube makers and so salt was very important to preserve food.
They preserved vegetables.
They would preserve fish for the winter time; that is, they would salt it and dry it out.
In Biblical times, they said that a man’s life was as valuable as a bag of salt and people use it as a measure of trade, people might be paid in salt
And when they offered their sacrificial cereal offerings, the Jews always put salt on the cereal offering so the cereal would not mould or rot.
When they had new babies, they would wash the new babies in salt water for medicinal purposes.
Salt water would help preserve the baby’s life.
But salt was also a /symbol/ of the preservation of life.
If you don’t have salt, all you have is decay.
It is very important to understand that.
You have to have salt to preserve life.
And Jesus said, “/YOU are the salt of the earth”/
Salt was also important in Biblical times because of war.
Wars were fought with essentially arrows and spears and swords and so there was a lot of skin wounds during warfare.
So if you were a wounded soldier, chances are it was a cut from a spear or a sword and so you had to have salt.
You would rub that salt into the wound… and it was very painful
But you needed it, to experience healing.
That was part of the way that you treated the wounds.
All cases salt is not an element useful to itself.
Its value comes in its application on other things
And Jesus said, “/YOU are the salt of the earth”/
Light was equally vital in biblical times
Without light you were as good as blind at night
Consider our homes today where we have street lights, house lights, cars lights, the glow of the TV or computer, and even the light emitted from a clock radio
Have you ever tried to make your home truly dark – it is a very difficult thing to do
But in Jesus’ day, darkness was a reality which governed their night
A simple candle light would have lite-up the whole room
At night, before one went to sleep, life was centered around the light of the fire in the courtyard
There, stories would be told, and life would be shared
Light has always meant many things – it enables us to see things,
it is a kind of energy that gives things colour,
it helps vegetation to grow,
provides solar power for electricity
and can be focused for specific uses, such as a laser.
And Jesus said, “/YOU are the light of the world”/
It is with these understandings that we approach the gospel lesson for today.
Today’s gospel lesson focuses on light and salt.
In today’s passage, it describes how we as Christians are to live out lives out in the world.
Not the way we are gathered here in this moment in our worship service.
Not even the way we gather together in our homes
In the text for today, we are invited to live our discipleship out in the world.
In our schools.
In our work.
In our neighbourhoods.
In our circle of friends.
Out there in the world which is often very dark.
Out there in the world which is often not so godly.
In the world, Christians are to be the light of Christ.
Like light the disciples as a gathered community have overarching purpose of being the mirror that refracts God’s light so that all peoples and nations can know of God’s justice and mercy.
You are to be the light of Christ in the world.
Our lives are to be an inspiration to the lives of others around us.
Our lives are to be like a beacon, that light on the hill, that shows people the way.
Our lives are to be like a lighthouse, guiding other people’ lives through nasty storms.
YOU Christians are to be like salt and light.
Martin Luther in a sermon in 1532 provided the following three understandings of salt.
The purpose of salt is to preserve.
The purpose of salt is to bite.
The purpose of salt is to pleasure and tastiness to life.
The purpose of salt is to preserve the quality of life.
Salty Christians are to preserve the moral, the spiritual and the political health of society
Because there is always the possibility (and the probability) that society can begin to decay
As we consider our society, consider the world that we hear and see on the news or read about in newspapers or magazines – the prevailing message is that the moral fibre is in decay
The media needs to create dark and violent pictures in order to sell their products, or sell their advertising space, so we don’t know if the media is exaggerating the decay
But regardless, the prevailing image over and over again is the decline of our society
To pick just two examples, we have all heard of that the divorce rate is hovering around the 50% mark
Or maybe you have heard that one out of five of our children live in poverty?
To this Jesus said, “/YOU are the salt of the earth”/
We need to help make this society a better place.
We are to help preserve the moral values of our community.