Last week, we began focusing on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount contains many of Jesus’ best known teachings. Last week, we heard the Beatitudes, the opening words of the sermon that say that the people who are perceived as weak by the people of the world are blessed by our God.

            We pick up where we left off last week, at Matthew chapter 5 verses thirteen through twenty:

Proclamation of the Scripture         Matthew 5:13-20              

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 

For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 

Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Here ends this reading of the Word of God for the People of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight. Amen.

Message                Restoring Beauty

            When I was working as a baby minister, I led the youth programs at the bigger church that I served. There were three youth groups – a group from 2nd through 4th graders, a group for 5th and 8th graders, and a group for senior high.  The youngest group mainly did crafts, played games, and ate snacks. We hit upon a week where we were doing crafts and we needed baby food jars. I was not a mom yet, and my exposure to baby food was very limited, so I had the bright idea that I would go to the grocery store, buy 6 jars of the mac and cheese baby food, eat the mac and cheese for lunch (I was thrifty), and then use the jars for our project.

            I proceeded with my plan.  I dumped all of the baby food into a bowl, microwaved it, and then dug in…..but guess what? Baby food apparently has no salt in it. And, it tastes terrible to adults who are used to salt in their food, even novice adults like I was at the time. I had to choke down the mac and cheese.

            Salt is important. Salt continues to be necessary for life in general, and one of our standard human tastes is saltiness. In ancient times, people didn’t always live in places that had ready access to salt. Salt was mined, salt was culled from salty seas, and ancient people boiled water to extract the salt. Ancient trade routes across the world were called “salt roads” – called this because salt was one of the first commodities imported around the world.  In the arid climate of ancient Israel, salt was used to preserve meat and fish so that they could consumed more than a few hours after they were butchered.  Salt was precious and valuable.

Jesus tells his followers to be the salt of the earth. What does he mean?  We are called to be essential for others. We are called to be integrated into everything. We are called to be present everywhere.

Sometimes, we as Christians, we have a tendency to rotate in very small social circles. Our social lives revolve around our church. Our friends are here. Our families are here. This tendency seems to exist in both smaller and larger Christian communities. But, in larger churches, you may be able to do everything at church – you worship at church, your gym is at your church, your coffee shop is at your church, your mom’s club is at your church, your kid’s soccer team is at your church. Some folks don’t have to mingle with non-Christians very much.

But, Jesus calls us to be salty.  We are supposed to be out in the world, mingling with all kinds of people. We are supposed to be telling other people about our faith in Christianity. We are called to share our faith with others, to tell other people why we believe in God, and to explain to others how our faith makes a difference in our lives. We are supposed to be salty.

The same goes for Jesus’ statement that we are supposed to be light to the world. We are supposed to let our light shine to others. We aren’t supposed to hide our faith, to keep our Christianity under wraps, to hide our light under a bushel basket….we are supposed to let it shine.  Our faith is something we should be excited about, not something we feel the need to hide.

Over the next week or so, we are going to see a lot of people wearing Eagles gear.  We already see a lot of Eagles-wear in our church, but I suspect we will all see people wearing combinations of midnight green, silver, black and white everywhere we go.  Even people who don’t really care about football will be supporting our local Eagles. I talked to someone the other day who was off to buy Eagles gear so they could join in.

When we have a winning team, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon.

As we spend the week noting everyone in midnight green, I hope we will consider how this much enthusiasm would apply to our faith. What would it be like to live a community where everyone was excited about Jesus?  What would lie feel like if we were all rooting for Christianity to transform the world for the better? How it feel if everyone got on board – we all loved each other, even the people we used to see as enemies – we all give generously to help others in need – we all started repenting for our past failings and turned over a new leaf – We all took risks for our faith – we all invited others to develop a relationship with God – we all focused on prayer and talked to God all of the time.

Jesus calls us to get on board – to get out into the world and spread our faith – to tell people why we believe in God and how our faith makes a difference in our lives – to love God and to love other people. Jesus calls us to be salty, to get into the mix of regular people who don’t know about God and to let our light shine to them.

Let’s be brave and let’s share our faith. Amen.