5th Sunday after the Epiphany, 2014

5th Sunday after the Epiphany, year A, 2014 (preached Feb. 9, 2014)

first reading: Isaiah 58:1-12

Psalm 112:1-9

second reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

gospel reading: Matthew 5:13-20

This past Tuesday, after a snowstorm in the wee hours of Monday morning caused school to be canceled everywhere, we were bracing for yet another one.  In the newspaper that day, there was a big article warning everyone that there was a serious situation facing those of us in the area.

Apparently towns all over were scrambling to prepare for Tuesday night’s and Wednesday’s storm, because there was a SALT SHORTAGE.

Curious, and convenient for me as a preacher that the news would announce a salt shortage during the same week that Jesus would speak about salt.

Also curious and convenient that during the same week that Jesus talked about salt AND LIGHT, that thousands and thousands of people in the northeast corridor would be thrust into darkness as a result of the same storm.

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.”

When Jesus called us salt and light, he was calling us NECESSARY THINGS.

Salt is more than just tasty, and light is more than just bright.

When Jesus walked the earth, salt had taste, but salt was also used as a preservative, to keep food from spoiling.  Salt not only made the food taste better, it also protected the people from getting sick from rotten food.

Salt was necessary.

The same is true for light.  We, who can flick a switch and light up a room, can take light for granted, except when the power goes out.  Then the darkness seems frightening.

We have also learned that light plays an important part in our mental and physical health.

People can get depressed during the winter months when there is a lack of proper sunlight.  It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it’s a real thing.  They make special lamps that emit a more natural kind of light than regular lightbulbs, and it really does help people.

We’ve known for years to put babies suffering from jaundice in the sun and when that doesn’t work they’re put under special lights in the hospital.

Light is necessary.

Salt and light are necessary things.  Jesus tells us that WE are necessary for the world.

That we have something to offer the world, that we have something to show the world.

Jesus tells us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Does that sound familiar?  The last time we heard these words was when Calvin was baptized in November.  This passage is said at the conclusion of our sacrament of Holy Baptism, as a candle, symbolizing Christ as light of the world, and his light now shining in us, is presented to the person baptized.

THE light of the world, calls US lights to the world.  But we are not just any old lights.

We are lights that are BEACONS.  Our light doesn’t shine a spotlight on US, our light is meant to point to Christ.  Our lights shine, not to show off how wonderful, talented or beautiful we are, but to point the way to God.

And Jesus doesn’t say, “You SHOULD be salt and light.”  He says, “You ARE.”

We don’t have to worry about BECOMING these necessary things, or what qualities we need to possess.  The only requirement is baptism, and the qualities?  The qualities are our very selves.  What makes me “me” and what makes you “you.”

Your lightness and saltiness shines through you.  It’s WHO you are.

Those of us who are musicians are salt and light through our music.  Those of us who can cook are salt and light through the meals we prepare for others.  Those who are good with numbers are salt and light through being fair and honest in how we use those numbers.  Those who are good at organization are salt and light through helping things run smoothly.

These necessary things impact the world all around us, and within our congregation.  We are salt and light out in the world, but we are also salt and light within these walls.

Today we have our annual meeting, when we take a look at our congregation’s ministry for the past year, and look at the year ahead.  As we approach this meeting in a few minutes I ask you to think, “How am I being salt and light here?”

Have I lost my flavor?  Am I hiding my light under a bushel?  How are my good works giving glory to God in heaven?”

There is much for us to do as light and salt in the world.  There are so many places of darkness, so many lives trapped in darkness.  But there is much to be done as a congregation as well.  What can each of us little lights DO TOGETHER to make sure that our congregation is a light?

I can’t answer that for you.  That’s a question that each one of us has to answer individually.

It’s wonderful to be a necessary thing.  Think about that for a minute.

It speaks to the value that God has for each and every one of us.  That no matter how little we might think of ourselves sometimes, GOD sees us as indispensable.

Wow.  Little old me.  Little old you.  Light and salt for the whole world.

Let’s not hide it, let’s shine out for everyone to see.

photo(10)I want to end today with what most think is a children’s song.  It IS, if you consider that even the oldest of us is a CHILD of God.

Sing it with me:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!



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