The gospel is an excerpt from Jesus’ infamous ‘Sermon on the Mount’.
Jesus speaks of being a light, which is the emphasized imagery of this Time after the Epiphany that perhaps you have grown weary of hearing…
Well, pause and take a deep breath.
I am not talking about the light, instead the SALT.
Jesus tells the gathered crowd to be the salt of the earth,
but what does that mean?
I am intrigued at times about how language changes throughout the decades, not to mention the centuries and the millennia. For example:
If someone is ‘salty’, they are upset of bitter about something minor.
But, does Jesus want us to be bitter about insignificant things?
I don’t think so.
Or reflecting on my Western States Youth Gathering adventure with a friend from church, I can not help but recall ‘salt’. We noted youth, sorry ladies but primarily female youth, who were sweet as sugar when chaperone eyes were watching but behaving inappropriately and vindictively when those eyes were not. We nicknamed them ‘salt’, because although appearing to be sugar, they were something different. We might say they wore a mask, were two-faced, or the popular and often deserved criticism of Christians as being hypocrites.
But, does Jesus want us to be two-faced, hypocrites? I doubt it.
So, lets talk about salt itself for a moment.
Salt, especially in the ancient world, was precious.
At times, it we worth more than precious metals and gems, including gold.
Salt is not only precious, but it is a preservative.
Salt preserved food, especially meat, in order that it would remain ‘good’ longer.
Salt permitted food to serve the purpose of providing energy and strength longer.
Salt is not only a precious preservative, but it also improves or enhances.
- If you are uncommon and struggle with low blood pressure (like me), salt will improve your blood pressure level by rising it to a healthy, safe level.
(Hence, I always have a salty snack in my purse.)
- If you have the more common, high blood pressure, you should refrain from over-indulging in salt.
BUT, whether you have low, normal, or high blood pressure, we can agree that salt improves/enhances flavor. This is the reason you cannot find unsalted chips, pretzels, popcorn, etc. Trust me, I tried (for the Time with Our Young).
SO, when Jesus told us to be the salt of the earth…
- Jesus is telling us we are ALL precious.
All people, all creatures, all creation are precious and entitled to respect and dignity, because ALL are precious in God’s eyes even if we look, talk, act, think, believe, or love differently than one another.
- Jesus is telling us to preserve HIS mission and the Kingdom of God
that is here, near, and not yet fulfilled.
Jesus’ mission was a continuation within the prophetic tradition, which as our Isaiah scripture reminded us, is that God does not desire our sacrifices, burnt offerings, or fasts that allow us to stand proud saying “look at how good I am”. God desires that we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, shelter the poor, and break the bondage of injustice and oppression. Jesus commissioned us to continue HIS life, ministry, and mission through our baptismal commitments to seek justice, to act with compassion and mercy, and to love and serve all but especially the vulnerable. This is the mission that Jesus called us. This is the mission we are called to preserve.
- Jesus is telling us to improve and enhance.
Martin Luther taught and wrote that we are to drown, to kill, and to die to the old “Adam” (self) each day in our baptismal waters, in order to be raised, resurrected with Christ anew, improved, and drawn further and further into the one God has, is, and will continue to call us to be. Yet, each morning we awake to find the old “Adam” alive and swimming again, thus this process does not end until the moment of our death.This is not simply “self-help”. We are called to not only improve ourselves, but to enhance the entire world through the mission and baptismal commitment to seeking liberation and justice, acting with compassion and mercy, loving and serving all, but especially the vulnerable, not only within these walls but in our community and throughout the entire creation!
This requires more than one little salt shaker!
It requires a whole collection of salt shakers!!!
May we be precious salt shakers, who preserve Christ’s mission
and the Kingdom that is here, near, and not yet fulfilled!
May we be precious salt shakers,
who improve and enhance ourselves, the world, and entire creation daily.