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Feb 05, 2017

Salty

Passage: Matthew 5:13-20

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Kurt Gerhard

Series: Epiphany 2017

Category: Epiphany

Summary:

A sermon delivered the day after the 2017 Vestry Retreat

Detail:

Last week, we heard the beginning portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It is Jesus’ most famous sermon preached to a group of people seeking meaning in their lives. The people who were gathered around Jesus were the outsiders, the working class, the refugees in a world that treated refugees like dirt.

 

Jesus began his sermon with blessings of inclusion. After offering these people on the margins some hope in God’s kingdom, Jesus began to define their responsibility in this world. And in doing so, he tells them to be salty.

 

Now, Jesus traveled near and around the Dead Sea. It is very near the ancient city of Jericho and where John baptized and the wilderness where Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying. And, as you know, the Dead Sea is very salty, so salty that not a plant or animal can live there. Salt eats away at things like ice and cement and cars. We see this every winter after we spread it to rid us of ice, it eats away at the cement and the paint on our cars, and other things. So, when Jesus asked us to be salty, he was asking us to be corrosive and life ending and caustic…

 

  1. Our seminarian tells me that Jesus told us to be salty like the salt we season food. Yes, salt can be corrosive, but it also provides our food with wonderfully distinctive flavors that we often find pleasurable. So, I guess Jesus was saying that his followers (Christians) should be different than others, that they should mix in with the world in order to elicit goodness, distinctive, something profoundly consequential. And if they weren’t, then they were wasting their time.

 

The church is called to be salty today.  

 

  1. Church is a safe place for people to gather in community to support each other in good times and bad. 2. It is also a place where we organize to fulfill God’s mission to bring justice and mercy to all people. Each of these are reasons to be a member of a church. There are certainly other reasons to join a church but if you were to rank those two, which would be the most important to you?

 

That is why I believe that Christian churches should be places of loving and supporting communities and places that help us understand the values that we should strive to attain in a world that often drags us in the opposite direction.

 

We need to provide the salt, the structure, the energy to make the world a better place for those of us in the community and for the many people with whom we interact.

 

Yesterday, your vestry, of which I am a member, met in retreat to set goals for the upcoming year. I think it was a salty discussion, brainstorming session, and planning effort.

 

I am going to hit on some of the big ideas that were top priorities:

 

  1. Develop a pastoral care committee that can react to the needs of parishioners who need a visit, a prayer, a ride, or a meal. Let me tell you that many of us are blessed with health and mobility. That blessing can be used to share goodness and loving support to those who need something. Younger families can help older ones and older ones can help younger ones. Relationship requires mutual benefits.
  2. We felt that we needed to regularize what we are calling low-impact gatherings like last Sunday’s Game Night. 50 people participated last week, some were our youngest members and there were slightly older members, too. It was a way to know each other in a multi-generational activity that needs only a little bit of planning and support. We hope to offer a bird walk, more game nights, some potluck meals in the next year.
  3. Service Saturday – We started Service Saturdays last year and they were a big hit. We live in a community that needs our attention. On March 18th, we will make a sack lunch with toiletries that we will take to our homeless neighbors downtown. Last year, we made and delivered 150 sack lunches. This year, we plan to do more and to find other places to visit. Yes, it is a great gift for our friends, but it is also important for us.
  4. Refugees- Refugees are in the news right now, but even before the executive action a week ago, we knew that this was something important to address. Jesus and his parents were refugees in Egypt when they were escaping the wrath of Herod. Jesus welcomed all people into his communities. Welcome and hospitality were key to Jesus’ vision. I have a contact at a local non-profit who works with interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan who have helped American military operations. He is going to help us plug in and we will be inviting him to speak to us during a Sunday forum.
  5. Which brings me to something else that the Vestry plans to do. We want to invite speakers, like the expert on refugees, to speak on relevant topics. Do you know people whom we should invite?
  6. Over the next few months, we will have the opportunity to participate in Alpha in the diocesan pilot project at the Cathedral and the Hope Initiative for those providing care to parents, spouses or children.

 

Churches are about providing caring and loving communities (kind of like a family) and they are to be places reflecting on our values and organizing to make the world a better place. I do believe all of the ideas we spoke about yesterday fall into these two categories. We are going to need your help to make these things happen. That is because we are the church and we need your saltiness to make this place better. After hearing your vestry talk about these important initiatives, I am convinced that we will continue to be a distinctive place doing amazing things.

 

And for that, I am very thankful. Amen.