Salt of the Earth

Revd. Heather
Sunday, February 9, 2020 - 9:30am

You are the salt of the earth

I am a big fan of Masterchef, and if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll probably have noticed that seasoning is a big deal. Contestants must remember to season their meat, and their fish, their vegetables, and their sauces, because adding salt makes the meat taste meatier, the fish taste fishier, and the sauce, well, saucier! 

This one small ingredient, salt, helps to enhance, to bring alive, whatever is already there, and in doing so greatly aids a contestant’s chances of impressing the judges and reaching the next round! Good seasoning is essential!

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells all those gathered to listen, that they are the salt of the earth. This teaching is concise. And applies to all who are gathered who seek to follow Jesus and the law. 

And with the words of God in their heart – and specifically the words of the beatitudes that Jesus had just taught – words that focus on God’s blessings upon those who have suffered loss, face oppression and seek peace and justice, the crowd were encouraged to bring alive hope in the world around them. To bring alive hope, to draw out goodness, in what is already there. For salt draws out the qualities and flavours already found within a food.

And so what for us today. As Phil Dykes reminded us at our Vision Day yesterday, every parish in the Church of England is different. Every church is different. Every time is different. So we are called to be salt here in this place and at this time. To draw out God’s love and goodness around us.

And of course, we will be most effective as salt when we go out from here; the dismissal at the end of the service is of great importance! Salt doesn’t really enhance salt! But salt enhances that which it comes into contact with, that which is different from itself, that which it can season, and bring alive. 

And so as we are sent out we are challenged to consider how we live as salt of the earth. How do we live missionally, showing with our lives that God is at work in the world, particularly with who have suffered loss, face oppression and seek peace and justice. How do we bring alive hope?

Before we become overwhelmed with the potential size of the challenge, the thing we must remember about salt and seasoning is that even a small contribution can make a big difference. The small ways in which we care and reach out in love to those around us, and the ways in which we receive love, can help to bring alive hope. 

And when we work together, it is often possible to make a greater difference. A few grains of salt together can really enhance a flavor. When we partner with One Church to seek to bring alive God’s love in this town – through the Foodbank and the Nightshelter, we are able to do more together.

Yet there is one further area where we can all be making a difference, that is highlighted in our reading. Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church points out: we can only be salt of the earth on condition that there still is an earth. Likewise we can only be ‘the light of the world’ if there is still as world. Therefore it is imperative that we ‘treat creation as our neighbour, with love and hope, with faithfulness and compassion.’ 

The care of the earth is an area of growing concern for us. Indeed we were reminded yesterday – that care of the earth, is one of the five marks of mission for the Anglican Communion. And it was encouraging to see how important care of the environment is to so many in our congregation. 

Environmental issues affect us all, but they affect most deeply our poorest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters on this earth. As Christians we have a responsibility to live in a way that is life-giving to all, and we should seek to respond to environmental challenges by bringing alive a hope that we can sustain and renew the life of earth. We are each challenged to consider carefully how we use the earth’s resources, through how we travel, what we buy, and what we eat, for these decisions, however small they may seem, collectively they will affect whether the earth is renewed for the current and future generations.

You might have heard in the news this week that the Archbishop of Canterbury has launched the Church of England’s first ever Green Lent Campaign. Every year the Archbishop commissions a book for Lent – and this year it is ‘Saying Yes To Life’ by Ruth Valerio, an environmentalist, theologian and social activist who works for Tearfund. The chapters of the book are reflections based on the creation story found in Genesis 1 and include questions to encourage our own reflections on how we interact with the environment. Alongside this the Church of England will also be launching a LiveLent campaign which can be followed via email and social media – or booklets which we can order – let me know if you are interested. 

Some of the questions that the LiveLent campaign explore are 

'How much water goes into making a pair of Jeans?' 

'Could you twin your toilet?' 

'When was the last time you gazed at the night sky?' 

'What was the carbon footprint of the meal I just ate?' 

 It’s great to hear that we are ahead of the curve here at St Mary’s with planning to twin our toilets! And you are of course invited to twin your toilets at home if you would like.

And so returning to the words of Archbishop Justin Welby who calls us to “urgently need to rebuild our relationship with our planet. To … change our habits – in how we pray and how we act."

As we go from here today, we are each invited to continue reflecting upon what small changes we can make in our lives, to live as salt of the earth, that draws out God’s love and goodness and sees our planet preserved for this generation and generations to come. Amen.