“Be Salty, Get Lit” February 5, 2023
“Be Salty, Get Lit”
Isaiah 58:1-12/ Psalm 122:1-9
1 Corinthians 2:1-12, (13-16)
What if I were to tell you That we might have a whole bunch of visitors at any moment now? I imagine That we all would be tickled pink. but here’s the thing: what if I told you that these folks Are going to burst through the doors because they have heard about some amazing and kind of crazy things that have been happening at Amity United Methodist Church. For example: because so many different pastors have preached here in the last few months, what would happen if we were known for… oh, I don’t know… let’s say that we were known for dumping buckets of Gatorade on the pastor at the end of each service? What do you suppose would happen? Would folks just ignore us and go back to their NFL pregame shows or the Sunday crosswords? Or would they, perhaps, decide to come poke their heads into the doors of this church; a church, quite possibly, where they have not entered in many, many years
Well. it’s safe to say that we can never know what people will do in any given situation, but if it was me, I would show up to watch the pastor get dunked. I mean who wouldn’t? Before we go any further, let me be clear: This Gatorade thing is just a hypothetical; an example to demonstrate the gospel message for today, if you will, so let’s not be getting any wild ideas.
But no, wait a minute; I take that back. I take that back because it seems to me that getting some wild ideas and then living out those ideas is one of the final points that Jesus makes in this lesson that we know of as the Sermon on the Mount. So, once again from <Matthew 5:13” “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything”
You know, I have struggled with this Passage about salt And salt substitutes and flat salt And the best way I can think to understand it as it relates to our faith journeys and the church in general is to take this lesson at face value: no hidden meanings and no secret decoder ring required. So , here is how I see it:
Let’s say that Your spouse has been working on a pot of soup for two hours or so when she. or he, offers you a taste followed by the question, “So waddya think?” And here is where things can get tricky. What you would like to say is that the soup is boring; it’s blah, it’s ho – hum, And quite forgettable. What you do say however, Is that The soup is pretty good but could stand with a pinch or two of salt. And here’s the thing: sometimes a pinch or two of salt is all we need to bring something blah and lackluster Up to the status of. “Oh, wow. That’s some good stuff!” (vs 13)
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? ? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
“You are the salt of the earth,” keep in mind that Jesus was telling this to his disciples. these were men and women who had made a serious commitment to the priesthood of Jesus Christ; the same folks who would carry on the ministry of Christ long after his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. these are the disciples whom Christ loved and whom Christ trusted. “You are the salt of the earth,” he told them. “without you, the soup goes flat. Without you the eggs are icky and the spuds are duds. Without you the corn on the cob won’t do the job and the corn that is popped is not so tops. (somebody better stop me.)
But my point is that Jesus is complimenting and encouraging his followers – and that includes us by the way- to understand how important we are. It is our witness. It is the joy we express In our salvation;
It is the preaching and the singing And the meals and the groceries And the clothes closets- It is these things and many more That will constantly remind the world that we have salt and quite frankly. Things just taste better When God’s people are around.
That is our goal anyway. that is what we strive for. As followers of Christ and as disciples of Christ, That is pretty much what we live for.
I wish that I could quote you the names and the exact date of one of the greatest debates in the Christian faith. I believe this took place in the 1950s and it was a debate between a famous philosopher and atheist and a prominent writer and theologian. the Purpose of the debate, of course, was to prove or disprove the existence of God. The debate dragged on for days, as one would expect, But there was one line of questioning that the atheist contestant put forth that I have never forgotten. He asked. and I’m paraphrasing here, “OK, So let me get this straight: You’re telling me that God sent his son in the flesh to live amongst us for a while. in other words, God came down to earth And while he was here he made a lasting impact on our understanding of the God of the universe: your God of the universe.
But here’s the part I don’t get.” The atheist debated. “You claim that by dying on the cross, Christ’s death became the final and ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins and our salvation. does that sound about right? Furthermore. You have stated in public that whoever believes in this God of yours will have eternal life. is that right?”
“yes that sums it up. more or less.” The theologian replied.
“well let me tell you,” the atheist was shouting now: “the forgiveness of sins eternal life, the Kingdom of God. let me tell you if I believe that – if I truly and whole heartedly believed – then I would be shouting from the rooftops. I would put up billboards and buy radio and TV stations, that’s what I would do.”
Like I said, we can never know what a person will do in any given situation. And even though this passionate little speech was probably delivered as a gotcha moment, he did have a point.
You see. I wonder and I worry at the same time if the church might be losing it’s salt. We have become deeply entrenched in our traditions; and that in itself is not a bad thing. But when our traditions encourage us to be dour and rigid and, well… flat then we’ve lost our saltiness.
God is calling us to a joyful life, Our life in the church should be all about new ideas and new plans and excitement and challenges. it’s a place where we can support each other much better then you’ll find in a Country Club.
We are, After all, in God’s house, next and when you think about it, that is pretty extraordinary. It is extraordinary that a group of people pulled there are resources and gave of their time and labor to build this structure. So why would they do such a thing? And you might answer that they did it because the other church burned And I Might reply, “so why did they build the other church?” And on and on it goes but here’s the thing: the answer will always be the same. we come together in worship for the same reason that the people gathered around the river to hear the apostle Paul speak. we come together in our respective buildings for many reasons, the first and foremost being that we’ve got salt. the word of God continues to keep our faith alive. and what’s more, it is our faith community that continues to keep our lamps lit that we might shine out into the world.
so because I am feeling particularly salty from writing this sermon for you all today, I have a few ideas I’d like to share.
now these are above and beyond the Gatorade idea. First, when I look at the louvered windows on the bell tower, my thoughts immediately went to: “zip line.” I doubt the city Planning Commission would approve. But wow, what a great way to plant a seed of joy in the community.
even though I’m aware that Davis has spent countless hours prepping and painting our building, wouldn’t it be a hoot if somebody we painted it Canary yellow or red or blue or even painted it like a rainbow, Now that would raise some eyebrows.
We are, of course, not going to do these things, but I hope you get my point.
You know, our church has went through a lot of changes in the last ten years or so. I can only imagine what the last 8 months have been like But I would like to think that it has been a good thing to have the many different points of view of many different pastors. That takes some salt to welcome new faces, new understandings, And new styles in the preaching of the word of God.
With your blessing, I am happy to accept the invitation to continue as your pastor for another year. Things will be a little different; I guess that’s obvious. My guitar playing has suffered a major setback As well as my tap dancing skills, So I am sorry to say that we will be missing those two Highlights of our worship service.
Another change you may notice Is an increased openness in matters of the spirit. The ordeal that I have went through recently Has had a tremendous impact on my walk with Christ Both in my prayer life And in my need for their presence of the Lord. I hope to share some of these things with you And invite you to be comfortable and sharing with us as well. That’s how we keep the salt salty. That’s how we keep the lamp lit so that it lights up the whole room. As for the Gatorade idea, Let’s just chalk that up to the medication ,Amen and shalom