Sermon - 6th February 2011
Salt of the Earth, Light for the World
Scripture - Matthew 5: 13-20
The writer Douglas Adams wrote that there was a force of nature more irresistible than gravity and more constant than the speed of light, it was a ‘Somebody Else’s Problem Field’. Once an issue was surrounded by an SEP field it was completely invisible to everyone. It was the reason why you couldn’t attract a waiter’s attention in a restaurant or why that big and difficult thing at work never seemed to get done.
In my work place we have diagnosed a condition, known as ‘Sloping shoulder syndrome’...perhaps you’ve encountered sufferers too. Someone has a job to do, but they ignore it for long enough waiting for someone to come along and say ‘this needs to be done, and if no one else will do it, then even though it’s not my job, I’ll just have to do it”
Our reading today reflects on many aspects of the human condition, and challenges us all to face up to our callings and our responsibilities
The gospel reading uses some interesting images to compare our lives to, ones that would have meant a lot in the time of writing, but are still powerful to us today.
You are the light of the world, he says to his followers. We often think of Jesus as being the light of the world, but here he challenges us to fulfil this role too.
The light of the world...the world can be a grim and challenging place for anyone at times; we may worry about our safety, about the pressures of work, whether we will have enough in the account to pay the bills. For many the world can seem to be a very dark place indeed.
But we are the light of the world. Jesus compares us to him, and in doing so reminds us that we are called to do his work in this world.
Not everyone one worries about the difficult things in life, for some it seems to be all about whether they have the latest gadgets, the biggest holidays, the trendiest clothes..As if these things are really important.
We can all be guilty of this at times, hiding away from the realities of the world and through this reading, God reminds us that we can’t stick a blanket over the lamp and let its light be contained, we can’t allow the world to remain dark for others while we sit illuminated.
The other metaphor that is used is equally powerful; you are the salt of the earth.
Ever forgotten to put the salt in when you are cooking? You know about it when you come to eat it afterwards!
But think about it, Jesus says that his followers are the Salt of The Earth. Without salt, life is dull and tasteless. Without salt, things may not last as long as they should.
We are his followers. We are the salt of the earth. For every time that someone casts you down, every time that someone is abusive or dismissive about you or your lifestyle, remember that Jesus considers you to be the salt of the earth, he says that You are the Light of The World. It’s a contrast worth keeping hold of and clutching to your heart
Through us, Jesus wants life to be enhanced, not dull and flavourless, he wants us to be promoting positivity and affirming his values.
But remember that if it gets too wet, salt can leech out with the remainder proving useless. Salt has to be pure to be effective, so too do we, whatever label we choose to apply to ourselves, we have to be the best that we can be.
There are people here today who literally light up the room when they walk in, there are people we can turn to when we feel tempted or we feel faced with problems outside of our experience.
But Jesus says that we all are the light of the world, it’s not enough to come down with an attack of sloping shoulder syndrome, and say ‘well somebody else will do it’. The more of our light we turn on the more illuminated the world becomes
Have a walk round Sainsbury’s and you’ll see that there isn’t only one kind of salt, there’s smoked salt, sea salt, flavoured salts, as His people we are here to enhance life and add something in that makes life taste better for everyone. Different churches have different callings to particular groups, but salt is still salt = it still does the same job.
Different recipes, different communities, may need speciality seasonings, so God raises up his churches to meet their needs, and in doing so, empowers his people within them to become his light in the world.
The world already has too much darkness in it.
We have to be the ones who are ready to leave the lights on, who are ready to pay the bill and to think about our carbon footprint, sometimes life needs a floodlight, sometimes it needs a lamp and sometimes it needs a scented candle
Light enables sight, communicates God's presence and brings a sense of security. The world should experience Christians as people pure in purpose with lives that bring undeniable benefit to those around them, and in doing so bring praise to God.
Whose life will we illuminate this week?