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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REOPENING of Saint Paul's Church 27 June at 10:00am - click for details

Dear Saint Paul’s faith community members and friends,

God’s peace be with you! Rejoice! Rejoice! Given the decrease in COVID-19 cases in Minnesota and the increase in the number of people who have been vaccinated, we are excited to announce the re- opening of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church building on Lake of the Isles on Sunday, 27 June at 10:00AM. We will have a beautiful and joyful worship with Eucharist, and coffee hour to follow. For those of you who are unable to come to the church building, a live Zoom stream will be available. Look for the Zoom link in the E-pistle.

Saint Paul’s COVID-19 Response Team Members (Mark Anderson, Steve Riendl, Angie Paulson, Jacob Manier, Rev. Janet MacNally, and Rev. Ramona Scarpace) have put together guidelines for worshiping together in-person. These guidelines are based on information from the Centers for Disease Control, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. The team asks that, in the spirit of loving God and neighbor, everyone follow the guidelines as listed below. If you have any questions or concerns about these guidelines, please contact Junior Warden and COVID Response Team Chair Steve Riendl at sriendl@stpaulsmpls.org.

IN-PERSON WORSHIP GUIDELINES: Attendance

  • No pre-registration for worship is required

Your Health

  • If you aren’t feeling well for any reason, please take care of yourself at home. You may join the service via Zoom.
  • If you have any personal health questions or concerns about attending in-person worship services, please speak with your medical provider.

Creating a Welcoming and Safer Environment

  • Greeters and ushers will be on-hand to assist you with seating, service bulletins, questions
  • The church and restrooms will be cleaned before and after each Sunday worship service
  • Hand sanitizer and masks will be available
  • All books will be removed from the pews. Worship bulletins will be available in paper and electronic format.

Masks and Social Distancing

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask or socially distance. You may wear a mask and socially distance for your own comfort level.
  • If you are not vaccinated, please wear a mask and socially distance.
  • If someone is wearing a mask, please keep socially distant from them.

Seating

  • Saint Paul’s Church seats approximately 250 people. Given our regular Sunday attendance numbers, there is plenty of room to spread out.
  • We recommend that family groups sit together.
  • Fully vaccinated people may sit with other fully vaccinated people.
  • If someone is wearing a mask, please socially distance from them when selecting a seat

Singing

  • Congregational singing is permitted.

The Peace

  • Please remain in your seats for the Peace. Use a wave, a nod, a smile, etc.

The Eucharist

  • Clergy and those assisting at the altar will sanitize their hands in view of the congregation.
  • Communion will be of bread only. We will use gluten-free wafers for all. Receive the bread in your hands.
  • The common cup of wine will not be used at this time.
  • You may receive at the altar rail kneeling or standing. If you are unable to or do not wish to come up to the altar rail, please notify an usher, and the bread will be brought to you.
  • Note: Rev. Ramona, and Rev. Janet are fully vaccinated.

Coffee Hour

  • To be held at the back of the church
  • Coffee and lemonade only, served in disposable cups
  • A limited number of people will set up refreshments and pour
  • No foods at this time

Nursery

  • The nursery will be available and staffed.
  • The nursery will be cleaned before and after each Sunday.
  • Parents must give contact information (name and phone number)

COVID-19 Tracing

  • If Saint Paul’s becomes aware of a situation where someone who attended the service receives information that they have contacted COVID, Saint Paul’s will notify people of the occurrence via the E-pistle.

We give thanks for the gift of coming together in-person to worship God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of life. We give thanks for all who worked so diligently to create and distribute vaccines. We give thanks for those who put themselves at risk to keep others safe. We remember those who have died and hold their families in our prayers.

We look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday, 27 June!

Blessings,
Mark Anderson, Senior Warden
Steve Riendl, Junior Warden
Rev. Ramona Scarpace, Priest-in-Charge

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