Isaiah 58.1-12; Psalm 112; 1 Corinthians 2.1-12; Matthew 5.13-20
This identity, this reality of being salt and light means that we are already enough. No matter what comes next, no matter how being salt and light plays out in our lives, we are enough. We are God’s beloved. We are God’s children. We are a welcome member of God’s family. We are salt. We are light.
Because this is who we are, it leads to us doing salt-like things. It leads to us behaving like light. What does it mean to be salt-like? Well, salt does not exist for itself. We don’t sit down to a delicious bowl of salt for breakfast. Salt, in the right amount, brings out the flavor of the thing it is placed with. We, when we are salt-like, draw out the flavor, the purpose, the God given gifts of those around us. When we share an encouraging word, we are salt. When we share of what we have with those in need, we are salt. When we work for a healed world in any way, we are salt.
The following is a poem by Ken Rookes called “You are the salt.”
The salt gives of itself,
accepting its modest part,
and knowing that its culinary duty
is not to dominate,
but to enhance.
Its freedom is generous,
it is there for the other;
as it imparts its saltiness.
The master gathers his followers;
calls them salt, at large upon earth.
The disciple pours out self
recklessly, to enhance the justice,
to build the peace; knowing that hope
is an elusive costly thing,
and that the apparently foolish vision
of a world seasoned and shaped by love,
was never imagined.
Beloved children of God, know that you are salt. Continue to be salt for the world.
And alongside salt, we are also light. What does it mean to be light? Light, like salt, does not exist for itself. Its purpose is to illuminate other things. Light’s function is not to be seen, but to let things be seen as they are. We are light in any moment when we can show people how much God loves them. We are light every time we tell the truth. We are light every time we use our God given gifts to heal the world in any way.
The following is a poem by Hafiz called “The Sun Never Says”
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
With a love like that,
It lights the
Beloved children of God, know that you are light. Continue to be light for the world.
We flavor and illuminate, not for the credit or attention, but for God and God’s world. There is a reason we heard these words at Elizabeth’s baptism this morning. In our baptism we are called to let our light shine for the sake of doing good in the world so that we may all understand who God is.
We are only able to flavor and illuminate by the grace of God. We did not turn ourselves into salt and light, God made us this way. Designed us with a purpose in mind. God uses the ordinary again and again to make the world extraordinary. Salt and light, bread and wine, simple water. With these simple things, love continues to grow and flourish in God’s world.
We start from a place of grace. And then we struggle. We struggle because we find our ideas about being salt and light are not all the same. We differ, sometimes greatly, about the best ways to illuminate the world, draw out the best in others, and care for God’s good creation.
While I don’t have any simple solutions about how to deal with the stuggles, Jesus guides us today when he reminds us that the law is not eliminated, but fulfilled in his coming. So often, when we hear that word law, we think of the rules that tell us ‘no.’ We need to remember that much of the law found in scripture is about loving our neighbor. While our salvation may be fully reliant on God’s grace, whether or not we feed the hungry and care for the least among us is reliant on our actions. Our saltiness. Our light.
For we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, not just the salt of a community or congregation, the light within the groups of people who are like us or agree with us. Our saltiness and light is meant to go forth into the entire world. Take a moment to think about it. We have all encountered many people throughout our lives who have given us encouragement and love, who have shined a light onto and into our lives. We have people we could name and undoubtedly someone would name us. And those people have come from many areas of our lives – our whole world.
Although salt and light are humble in their work, pointing to something other than themselves, by very nature of being salt and light, they will be noticed. Don’t forget that Jesus said today, in the midst of talking about salt and light, that we are a city on a hill. When we are salt and light, the world will notice. And the world will find hope. That is where I have found hope, the people in my life that have been salt and light. They are the reason I stand here today, in a pulpit, wearing this collar, after repeated encounters with toxic church communities.
They, and we, are God’s hope unleashed on a world that needs it so badly. Jesus’ disciples, the salt and the light, you and I – we have proclaimed and prophesied and comforted in the face of broken systems and broken relationships and broken lives. We are givers and receivers of hope. God’s hope. As we go forth, let us remember our identity and our call: to let our light so shine that people may see good work, find hope, and glorify God in heaven.