February 5, 2023, First Sundays Life Together. Sermon preached by Rev. Katie Holicky 

2/5/23 First Sundays Life Together Assistant Rector, Rev. Katie Holicky 

Last week we heard Jesus starting what we call the Sermon on the Mount (show picture of Sermon on the Mount). Likely it was more like a hill, but here Jesus teaches some of his most direct and big teachings that we are to learn as people who follow him. You might say that this special time of teaching, “… describes an alternative world, already being realized in the midst of this world, where God’s power and presence define human perceptions and relationships” (TBC, 229). Meaning, with these teachings we are able to build good, right, healthy relationships with God and one another. Doing so helps us to be God’s love, peace, hope, joy, and justice in the world. 

In our 9am Non Traditional service we talked about how part of those “blessed are” statements we heard are about trusting that we peacemakers and lovers of mercy are all blessed, and so are close to God. And that closeness to God helps us to know and want the same things God wants: peace, mercy, justice and more. It is in that closeness to God through being blessed that we are able to bring the light of God to the world. 

This week, we are hearing more from Jesus as he stands on this “mount”. Today, we are going to focus on two parts of this story. First…what is this? (hold up salt) Right! It’s salt. Now, why in the world is Jesus talking about salt?! Well, you see, salt had a special meaning in the place and time that Jesus lived. (hold up Mesopotamian map, and show folks where Jesus would have been on the map). So, “‘Salt’, following ancient Mesopotamian notions (or ideas), symbolize(d) purity and wisdom” (JANT, 10). Jesus is trying to make sure his friends and followers know something pretty special. That they are the salt, the honesty, goodness, wisdom of God here on earth. 

Do you like salty food? What salty food do you like? Why? Salt adds and alters flavor. It is a foundational aspect of any savory recipe because of how much it can add to the dish. So, Jesus’ friends and followers are the salt, he might be trying to get them to understand that, “The danger for the disciples is that they may lose the capacity by forgetting that they are to disorder the status quo by valuing those who are dispossessed, caring for those who suffer loss, seeking to do justice, showing mercy, having integrity, being peacemakers, and courageously standing for what they believe” (FOTW, 332). We, just like the disciples, need to make sure we hold on to our hearts of love through the wisdom of God so that we can stay “salty” and add God’s goodness to the world. We must remember that we are supposed to live differently than others in this world. We are to take care of people and share what we have with people. 

And that brings us to our next point. Jesus tells those gathered “You are the light of the world”.  What is this? (hold up flashlight) Yes, it is a flashlight! But what does Jesus mean when he says, “You are the light of the world”? Well, this naming of light, “…invites us to consider the role of disciples as a gathered community… light enables us to see things and is a kind of energy that gives things color, helps vegetation to grow, provides solar power for electricity, and can be focused for specific uses…” (FOTW, 332). Light is special and powerful! It can do so many things! So, “Like light, the disciples as a gathered community have the overarching purpose of being the mirror that reflects God’s light so that all peoples … can know of God’s justice and mercy” (FOTW, 332,334). Ok so now we are going to do a science experiment and of course I will need helpers! 

Let’s pretend that the light of this flashlight is God’s light. The light shines brightly helping us to see things more clearly so that we might know where to go and how to put our faith into action. Now, what do you think will happen if we shine that light onto a mirror? Let’s see… (shine light onto mirror). When we shine the light on the mirror, the light bounces off of the mirror and shines onto something else. It’s almost as if it in a way helps the light to grow and go even more places. 

Friends, we are the mirror. Each and every one of us is a mirror to shine God’s light in the world. You don’t have to come up with this magic light on your own. It is given to you freely as blessed children of God. You just need to keep your mirror (or heart) open to receive it. Sometimes I feel really good and grounded in my being and maybe feel like I could be a big mirror for God. (shine light on big mirror) Sometimes I am feeling sad, or maybe tired, maybe something hard is happening in my life and my mirror for God might feel a bit smaller. (shine light on smaller mirror) No matter how I am feeling though, God’s light can still be shared with the world from my own being; no matter how big or small the mirror that I am might feel. Unlike this flashlight, God’s light will never go out. We just need to keep our hearts even a little open to help shine that light on the world. 

The Gospel of, “Matthew insists that faith be accompanied by action” (JANT, 10). Trusting that light of God to bounce off the mirror of our beings and into the world is how we do that. So, I wonder how you will let your light shine? (individual response) How might we let OUR light shine? (community response) (The Ministry fair today is a great chance for us to more clearly see some of the ways we do this as a faith community.)

May it be so!