Blessed and Salty - Reflections 2-5-20

Texts for 
Sunday February 9, 2020

Isaiah 58:1-9a
Psalm 112:1-10
1 Corinthians 2:1-12
Matthew 5:13-20


In last Sunday’s gospel reading from Matthew (Matt 5:1-12), Jesus' teaching ministry starts with words of blessing. In these early verses of the two chapters called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that those of the kingdom are blessed. They haven’t done a single thing to deserve this. In fact, they definitely do not appear to be the fortunate, privileged folks that one would characterize as blessed.  And yet, Jesus says they are blessed. Why? Because they are near and dear to God and God loves them. These verses, called the beatitudes, are not prescriptions of what one must do to be blessed; they are not imperatives to follow or else. Nope. They are simply snapshots of kingdom people; and in those snapshots you see kingdom values. 

In this coming Sunday’s gospel reading, which picks right up at verse 13, Jesus continues to describe people of the kingdom. But this time, you are in the picture.  “You are the salt of the earth.” Notice that Jesus does not say you “need to become” the salt of the earth. It is a declarative sentence: You are salt.

Through earlier centuries salt was “one of the most sought-after commodities in human history”*. It was used to enhance flavors, to purify, to soothe, to disinfect, and to preserve (important use when there were no refrigerators). Jesus was telling his followers and us that we are pretty important!

Even though salt is cheap and easily, it still has plenty of value today. As a rural resident with a well, I appreciate the way it softens my water, keeping my white laundry, and my gray hair from turning yellow. As someone living in a place of “mixed precipitation”, I appreciate the way salt keeps my sidewalks from being icy. As someone who fairly regularly suffers from colds and allergies, I appreciate that salt can unclog my sinuses or sooth a sore throat.  And as someone who enjoys a tasty homemade meal now and then, I appreciate how salt enriches food. 

Sticking with the use of salt in food for a moment…. Too little salt adds nothing and the food remains, well, blah. Too much salt ruins the taste, and the food is bitter or even burns. 

Like it or not, Jesus says we’re salt. We impact the world we live in; we are poured out into the world. 

The question, then, is How are you salt in God’s kingdom

Ponder that for a moment. Jesus talks about salt losing it saltiness. Have you lost your saltiness? Or maybe not poured out enough? Can God’s love and hope be tasted when you’re around?

There certainly have been times when Christians have burned, embittered, and repelled the world by their message of exclusion, judgement, and privilege. Have you ever gotten “too salty” and overpowered the taste of God’s love for the world?

Jesus says: You are the salt of the earth.

*Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky, Penguin Books (first published January 31st 2002)

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245