“You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.”
Just after hearing that they were blessed, Jesus reminds those listening up there on the hillside of their essence – which is salt and light. And we too, reading this, are reminded of our essence as salt and light – we are salty-light-bearers in an often stale and dark world – essential for life.
And when we listen deeply, we can’t help but know that we are part of something radical and transforming.
As salt and light, we are part of bringing about God’s kin-dom here on earth.
Kin-dom. . . that word . . . has long translated it as “king”-dom. In fact, from its original context it is better understood as Commonwealth – for the “common well-being” of all. Kin – family, siblings on a road to make the world a better place for all, particularly for those who face suffering and injustice.
“You are salt of the earth; you are light of the world.”
Jesus names them and us who are listening – to be salt and light – two elements essential for the continuation and enhancement of life and the coming of God’s kin-dom on earth.
We need salt in our diet, science has shown this, right? Just enough to work with the other minerals, to balance the body. Besides that, salt is a flavor enhancer in cooking. It's one of the only spices that can enhance and bring out the other flavors in a dish. Too much and it overpowers things.
And, if you have ever forgotten the salt when baking . . . things sort of fall flat, often dull and tasteless, you know?
Salt is used to preservative as well. Back in Jesus’s day salt was essential before refrigeration, for preserving foods, meats, fish, vegetables and even fruit - otherwise they decay quickly.
Salt is life altering.
Oh, did you know that if it sits around by itself, doing nothing. . . . salt does lose its potency in time, it gets stale. And it can pick up flavors of other things it sits near in the pantry. Old salt does go stale, its flavor changes.
And Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” . . .
Then he said, “You are the light of the world. . .”
A single candle lit in a dark room is transforming. It’s been shown that a single lit candle in a field on a dark night can be seen from more than a mile away. Cool, huh?!?
In the dark days of fall and early winter, many folks suffer from seasonal affective disorder, and use special lights as therapy. The human body and mind need light to thrive.
Both salt and light enhance their surroundings and are essential for life.
So, I wonder, if Jesus were speaking to us today, what would he point to that needs our saltiness, and our light. When Jesus entered into God’s movement, he was speaking to the first folks who would go on to start the church. But first, he had to call attention to their saltiness and their light within.
Jesus was actually calling people back to relationship with the loving God that had gotten lost in prestige, pomp and practices focused on personal recognition for piety, and forgotten to give God the glory.
In all the temple building and rule-making, the faith traditions were not focused on bringing about a better world for all. Jesus came to fulfill the original invitation, the original laws and words of the prophets written way back in the ancient scriptures – the invitation to enhance the divine connection of humanity with their Creator God.
Followers of Jesus are created by pure grace, out of the will of God. Like when we pray, thy will be done, not mine. By letting go of our own will, our own limited imaginations of what the world can be, what church might be like, . . . by letting go of our will, we might give space to notice God’s grace and ourselves as salt and light.
Thy will be done, not mine.
What might it mean to explore what it looks like to be salt and light for the world today?
To be salt and light in our world, today??
We know that salt and light are essential; salt for taste and light for finding one’s way and holding us together. They are good for the world; they are good for the soul.
And salt and light are common, often overlooked, not drawing attention to themselves, and yet essential for life.
As a church, our goal is not to be valued by today’s standards; our worth is not measured by our budget or staffing, or if we have the most popular youth program, professional choir like if we were part of some franchise.
We don’t do the work of church for our personal benefit, or to get glory.
Like ordinary salt and light, our goal is to be beneficial and useful elements in the world, enhancing what we touch. And in this we give glory to God.
This is our purpose.
As God’s beloved we are invited to live in humility of being who we truly are, salt to spice things up and light to shine into the darkness to show the way for a better world.
As salt and light, Jesus provides us a glimpse of our purpose and a chance to look at how we are doing and what we might do now. . .
All with ears to hear, with hearts to listen to Jesus’s instructions heard this: “you are the salt of the earth – be true to yourself, don’t get stale, don’t lose your flavor, be true to yourself and your neighbor.”
“Oh and let your light shine. Show others God’s glory. Speak up when injustice arises for your neighbor, when you see unfair practices, uneven laws when they negatively affect your neighbor.
Keep watch and stay the course – keep your light of justice for all shining.