Thursday, 3 February 2011

Being salt & light

I have been reading a suggestion from David Lose of the Luther Seminary, St Paul's Minnesota.

He suggests that to help people appreciate what Jesus says - that they ARE salt and light, we set up a 'salt & light blog'. So - humour me if you will - and tell me here any recent examples of when you have been salt & light to people around you. I hope to use some really good examples to inspire the congregation on Sunday. Have you got something to share? I'd love to hear it.

Sermon so far goes like this - now it's over to you...

Salt & Light
There is a word used in my native Yorkshire which I still use quite a lot, as I have never found a satisfactory equivalent. The word is ‘sloughed’ – it has a sense of disappointment, of being down of feeling crushed and despondent. I wonder if it has its roots in John Bunyan ‘Slough of despond’. Even if you don’t use the word, you know the feeling. Sloughed.

It’s a word which could easily be applied to many churches in our country at the present time. We’re not what we were – there are too many other options for things to do on a Sunday, there are too many people who think churches are just for weddings, baptisms and funerals (& maybe Christmas) and can’t see why you want to go at other times. Even a former President of the Methodist Conference has said “we used to be someone, once”.

How can we keep our spirits up – how can we make an impact on the world around us?

Jesus says to his followers “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”

Not you could be.. or even you should be.. you ARE.

‘But if salt loses its saltiness… but if the light is placed under the bushel basket.’
Is Jesus warning us that we need to keep ourselves ready and able to salt and light – as salty & lighty-y as possible. Is Jesus warning them that they could lose their edge as disciples, that they could get sloughed? No, I don’t think so, I think Jesus is trying to underline that his followers already are the salt and the light this world needs.

We’re used to Jesus’ little joke about the camel & the eye of the needle, and some of you might have heard me say before that the parables are full of the ridiculous and the cartoon. I think here’s another example.

‘You are the salt of the earth – but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?’.
Here’s a bag of salt from my cupboard. It’s moved house with me at least twice – possibly three times – it must be 7 years old – possibly more. And…it’s still salty. I have never thrown away salt because it’s not salty anymore – it just doesn’t happen. It’s ridiculous to say ‘if salt has lost its taste…’ and I think that’s the point Jesus is making. His followers are the salt of the earth and nothing can take away that saltiness. In fact, of course we add salt to enhance the taste of things and far from going off itself, salt stops other things from going bad. You are salt & will always be.
‘You are the light of the world…No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket’. Because not only would you not be able to see the light – you would probably set your basket on fire. Ridiculous.

So you ARE salt & light.
Don’t believe me – or not sure what it means, or feel that it’s a bit ‘un British’ to blow your own trumpet. Here are some real life examples…

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