the one about salt and light...
February 10, 2020, 8:42 AM

Sermon from February 9, 2020

Text: Matthew 5:13-20

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, this past week we were supposed to have our semi-regular meeting of Nerd Word (rescheduled for this coming Thursday). Now, some of you might be thinking, ‘What in the world is Nerd Word and what does it have to do with Jesus today?’ Throughout my life, there have been people who have said that the stuff that people think up and write about – especially in the science fiction and fantasy realm – like Star Wars and Harry Potter – are places that no person of faith should involve themselves in.

And truly, it has (at times) been heartbreaking to hear that. In my life I’ve been called names because of my love and great infatuation with those worlds and realms. I still remember being called a ‘heathen’ and a heretic by a neighborhood kid when I was 8 or 9 years-old because I was pretending to be a Jedi. It would also become frustrating when those who bashed those stories didn’t seem to either understand or take the time to actually read or watch those properties.

We can find so many parallels and insights into faith through these fantastically imaginative places, people, and stories. It’s the best part of what Nerd Word does. In fact, Star Wars – as a whole – has helped me understand what we read today from Matthew’s gospel a little more.

In each of the three separate trilogies of this film franchise, we are introduced to nobodies from nowhere. They have been told that they are worth almost nothing. Anakin was born into generational slavery. Luke was born into poverty and had to sacrifice his dreams to survive with his aunt and uncle. Rey was abandoned as a child and had to discover how to live on her own.

Yet, each one was told that they were special. They had gifts. They had a presence. They had a power. They could do amazing things and a lot of what they were able to do came down to trust. Trust in themselves and trust in what others were telling them.

With that trust and hope, they were able to literally move objects, stand up for justice, and make wrongs right.

Each of them was told that what others thought of them – because of what they were, how they lived, or what they did – didn’t define who they actually were. There was more to them. And with that knowledge, faith, and hope they were able to do incredible things.

This morning in our gospel reading, Jesus continues on with his sermon on the mount. His sermon of throwing the world on its side in who and how it lifts up those others have cast down.

Last Sunday, we read the very beginning of that sermon as he told those around him that they were blessed. Essentially telling them – no matter what anyone has told you before – you are holy. You are set a part. God is with you.

This morning, Jesus continues in putting a spin on what was conventional thought. He has told those who have been told they weren’t anything special – because they mourned, or were timid, or thirsted or were hungry – that they are indeed set apart.

He doubles down on that thought and tells them that not only are they blessed, but they are also salt and light.

When Jesus tells his disciples and the others around them that they are ‘salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world’ it meant something far more than how we view those things today.

During this time when Jesus is preaching this sermon salt was vital to life and society – far more than even how it is viewed today. It was used in far more ways than we typically view salt today. Today we usually use salt for one thing – to enhance or bring out additional flavors in our meals. And that’s a wonderful thing! I grew up in a family that didn’t season anything and I am just now discovering how deprived I was in the area of food growing up. Unfortunately, it seems at times I’m making up for lost time far more than I need to.

Anyways, salt during Jesus’ ministry was used for more than just seasoning food. It was a preservative. It helped keep meats and fish from spoiling. It helped disinfect wounds and clean areas of use. It was used in ritual ceremonies as an offering to deities. It was a currency used in bartering and the exchange of goods.

Salt was important, vital, and valuable.

Jesus tells his disciples that they too are as important, vital, and valuable as salt is.

That’s a big deal. You are like this incredibly needed thing in our world. As I tried to think of what a comparable idiom would be to use today, and what I think – as silly as it might sound – is that Jesus could say to us – you are like Wi-Fi. It’s everywhere; provides a great need within the world today; people will determine their lives around their access to it.

Jesus tells those who are not used to hearing it – you are important. And the reason you are important is because of who you are and what you are created to do. You are vital to the world. You are integral to the way the world works. You are needed.

Because, salt by itself doesn’t serve a great use. It is a natural ingredient of the world that sits there.

But, when it is used – it does incredible things. Like I’ve already said, it enhances the flavor of food. It helps preserve food. It is valuable enough to be traded. It protects and heals. It is used in cleaning.

Even today, it is used in ways that we don’t typically think of.

It can be used as a filter and softener. It helps people and vehicles maintain traction in icy conditions, deodorize clothes, and more.  

Salt does a lot because it is used for so much. It protects, it preserves, it cleans, it is used for healing. Salt can be used for so many things.

Light too is valuably important. It provides sight, guidance, it focuses on things, it brings warmth, it gathers people around.

Jesus is telling all of these folks – and in turn telling all of us because we too are gathered in close to the disciples. Leaning into the conversations, sitting at the feet of Jesus on the mountainside as he preaches. Jesus is speaking to each of us as well. Even if we are almost 2000 years removed from this sermon.

Jesus tells us that we are vital, important, valuable, and integral parts of life. Just like salt. Just like light.

And because we are like salt and light, we do things. We protect. We gather. We enhance life around us. We focus in on where God is at work. We push back the shadows. We bring warmth. We facilitate in healing. We bring greater traction to those around us.

As salt and light, we do things in God’s name.

When Jesus calls us, calls those gathered around him, calls the disciples salt and light, he isn’t just being nice. Jesus isn’t just making us feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Jesus is giving us a mission. Jesus is giving us a life. Jesus is calling us to work.

We are blessed. We are light and salt. And because of that – this is what we do. We are called to work, to provide, to care for, to gather, to shine on not only injustice, but to shine on the goodness of life. That is what it means to be light and salt. We get to do things in God’s name.

Anakin, Luke, and Rey were told by the world around them that they were nobodies.

Yet, along comes those who know something the world cannot see. Tells them that they are set apart. That they have gifts. That they are called to use them to bring balance and life to a world that at times is heavily tilted towards those with power who use it to take advantage of others.

Jesus tells each of us – we are set apart. We have gifts. We are called to use those gifts to bring balance and life to a world that at many times is heavily tilted towards those who take advantage of others and advantage of what God has given us.

People of God, my friends, my sisters and brothers. Not only are each of you – all of us – salt and light. But, we are called to live as salt and light in this world.

In God’s name provide for, gather, nurture, facilitate healing, bring traction, warmth, focus upon what is righteous in God’s eyes, be that which brings out the flavor of life – that enhances the life of those around you.

We get to do all of this because we are blessed. Amen.

Contents © 2021 The Lutheran Church of The Redeemer • Church Website Builder by mychurchwebsite.netPrivacy Policy