Musings on Salt and Light 2020

The Rev. Barbara del Caro Scaia

 

Sermon: 9 February 2020

Today’s reading is really the tail end of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount… in those verses immediately before our Gospel today; he’s named all those to be blessed…we refer to it often as the ‘beatitudes’ Gospel…today Jesus transitions to a different focus.

Today’s reading is really the tail end of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount… in those verses immediately before our Gospel today; he’s named all those to be blessed…we refer to it often as the ‘beatitudes’ Gospel…today Jesus transitions to a different focus. Jesus does that a lot, transitioning us from one idea of who we are to a deeper understanding of who we are meant to be. In this particular transition he turns His focus from blessing those who suffer to naming us using very specific words that clarify just how important we are to him and what it means to have his Love. More on transitions later….

‘You are the salt of the Earth…You are the Light of the world.’ Such deeply poetic phrases from Jesus in Matthew today. Such specific and explicit statements from Jesus today…notice he doesn’t say you are LIKE the salt of the earth or you are LIKE the light of the world…we are not referred to as a simile; nor a metaphor we ARE those essences…SALT AND…LIGHT. While salt and light do not seem so extraordinary today; in Jesus’ time they were very powerful substances…salt was needed for just about everything … From cooking, preserving, being used for washing, as a trading commodity…salt was worth its weight in Gold…no it is not pretty, nor does it smell well, special, yet without it food would have rotted, trading for goods would not be able to occur and cleansing capacity woefully decreased……then he also tells us we are the LIGHT…it is we who are the lamps to guide each other along this journey. There were no gas, or electric lamps in his time …there were no big city neon lights to brighten the moonless nights…when it was dark…it was truly dark…being a light was being a beacon offering a possibility of companionship, providing safety and guidance to all who are touched by it.

With these 2 verses Jesus has graced us, commended us and commissioned us to be His very essence here on Earth…we are to be salt and light…it can be a difficult concept for some of us… believing in and taking in what Jesus names us…if we cannot believe that we ourselves are salt and light…then we cannot live into being it. However, when Jesus graced us with these commendations; He knew we weren’t perfect, He knew that we would struggle; think of the people he was speaking to…ordinary people who had been under control of terrible rulers, most were not wealthy, they were those whose lives were harsh and their goals were to meet basic needs at best…yet those are the exact people he named …imperfect, often fearful, struggling people…sounds like us today.

It is my belief that each of us has a certain unique flavor and amount of salt to add to the Love that is His spirit in the world. I believe that each of us is an inspiration in the dark times for those who mourn, carry heavy burdens, are lonely, or need food and shelter or even simply our presence during a particularly rough time. Whenever we respond to another with the HS in our hearts…we are living into salt and light!
That response though, requires a transitioning in our way of thinking, being, and doing…from what we have envisioned ourselves to be to discerning who are meant to be …not only as individuals, but also as community…

Two weeks ago, Beth and the vestry ushered us to the entrance of a new transition for our own community and now we take initial steps into it…I am thinking that there may be fear, angst, anger and yes, some anticipation also as we move towards it.

I invite us to envision it as a time that allows us to discern within this community what kinds of salt, we, each of us, offer in this transition and how can we light our lamps for each other along this journey…there may be dark times. Can we be a community that keeps its lamps lit with love of Christ despite disagreements, fear of change, grief of a time and way of being community that may no longer work? Can we use our saltiness to think out of the box, create space for all ideas, for grief to be processed? I have faith in us…I picture God tending to us as we work through this, much like a gardener tending to a beloved plant, nourishing, watering, trimming back that which threatens our health, turning us, always towards the …to be the light, helping us thrive as we delve more deeply in the coming weeks to learn about who we are, who we want to be, and how we want to move towards our new vision.

Salt of the Earth and Light of the world, yup, that’s who we are…how can we NOT be successful with this commendation???? Amen!!

 

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Senior Warden Message – COVID-19 Update

“Church is not cancelled; it has changed.” This was the message shared in the bulletin and in the opening message of our first online Eucharist. In these challenging times of COVID-19 we need to find new ways to connect, new ways to gather, and new ways to replenish our spirit.

Last Sunday’s online liturgy and a new Wednesday night online Compline, which will start next week, are just two ways we have started to adjust to what will be our new temporary normal. Besides our services going online, we are also sending notes, making calls, and having time together on various social media platforms. Keeping connected is so important to our Saint Paul’s community. We are all in this together supporting each other. God is making his presence known in all these wonderful interactions.

Two weeks ago, when we suspended our in-church services and closed the doors of the church, we hoped to reopen our doors April 1. Unfortunately, with the Stay-at-Home orders from Governor Walz and recommendations from Bishop Prior, we continue to be closed to holding any kind of in-person or public gatherings. The current recommendation from the Bishop is through mid-May. Although disappointing, this is necessary to keep all of us and our neighbors healthy. Please understand that the church will be locked and closed to all church-related activities.

Governor Walz and recommendations from Bishop Prior, we continue to be closed to holding any kind of in-person or public gatherings. The current recommendation from the Bishop is through mid-May. Although disappointing, this is necessary to keep all of us and our neighbors healthy. Please understand that the church will be locked and closed to all church-related activities.

Earlier this month we formed a COVID-19 response team. This team, made up of staff and Vestry members, is supporting and helping us live into this new temporary normal. This group will continue to watch for new ways for us to keep connected. They will watch for guidance from Episcopal Church of Minnesota (ECMN), the Minnesota Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). I am so proud of the work they are doing and the amazing amount of love and care they have for our members.

Continue to watch for updates in your email, on Saint Paul’s Facebook page, or on our website. And don’t forget you too can help us keep connected – use our Realm online directory to reach out to your church family.

Stay healthy and know that God is with us, Beth

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