Epiphany 5A – Precious as Salt
February 9, 2014
Jesus says you are the salt of the earth…
I learned more about salt this week,
than I ever thought possible!
In 1925, the Diamond Salt Crystal Company
out of St. Clair, Michigan published a brochure called,
“The 101 uses of salt.”
I won’t share them all with you…
but maybe there are some new ones for you here as well!
You can use salt (and of course Diamond salt particularly!) to:
freeze ice cream
get rid of burned odor from ovens
prevent milk from souring
crack nuts cleanly
clean the kitchen table
remove rust from an iron
put out a fire
drive out ants
thaw out frozen pipes
get rid of onion breath
for nerves or
to get rid of dandruff.
I’ve never seen an infomercial about it,
but It seems like salt truly is a miracle substance!
That is not a new revelation, of course.
For thousands of years humankind has known the value of salt.
Homer called it a divine substance;
Plato said it was especially dear to the gods;
over the years salt has been the cause of wars;
it has been traded for and used as money.
Soldiers were paid in salt.
In fact, our word for “salary” comes from the word salt.
So when Jesus says “you are the salt of the earth…”
what does this mean about us?
Certainly Jesus knew the value of salt.
It’s interesting that when we say that someone is a “salt of the earth” person,
we generally mean that they don’t put on airs – they’re down-to-earth, ordinary, loyal, humble.
But in Jesus’ day, salt was not ordinary or humble.
It was precious.
It was extraordinary!
When Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth,
he tells us we are worth our salt – and that is, we are valuable.
It’s important that we know how valuable we are,
because then we are freed from our false thinking
that we’re not good enough,
and can share with others how valuable they are too.
As I was watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics Friday night,
it was obvious to see (even without the commentators talking about it),
that walking into the stadium with their teammates,
to the roar of the crowd and the flashing cameras
was a moment of pure joy to the athletes!
Their spirits soared as the crowd told them with their applause
that they are special; they are precious; they are valuable.
They probably haven’t heard that much from their coaches.
They probably haven’t heard that much from their peers.
They probably haven’t heard that much from anyone whose job it was
to keep pushing them to skate faster, jump higher, and turn quicker.
But Jesus says to the best athletes in the world,
just as he says to those of us who sit on the couch watching them…
You are salt…you are precious…you are valuable…now.
Knowing that, feeling that,
go out into the world and make sure everyone knows how valuable to God they are too.
The world would change if we all knew how special not only we are to God,
but also how special others are to God too.
There wouldn’t be the senseless taking of another’s life –
on the streets of Alexandria or on the streets of Afghanistan.
If we knew how special others are,
we wouldn’t struggle to get funding for food stamps,
or to get healthcare for everyone.l
If we knew how special others are,
we wouldn’t try to prevent others from loving whom they love,
or from buying a house next door to us.
Of course, the most common use of salt these days is as a spice.
So when Jesus says we are the salt of the earth,
he tells us, not only are we valuable,
he also tells us we enliven the earth, we give it some kick….!
Last night here at Good Shepherd was the chili cook off.
As one of the judges who had each of the chilis,
I can tell you that there were several which had kick – – a lot of kick!
I’m guessing the kick did come in part from salt — as well as a few other ingredients!
But as I reflect on it, the real salt of last night;
the real kick of last night;
was not just in the chili.
The real salt of last night was in us –
in our laughter, in our sitting at table with each other,
in our conversations, and In our support for the ministry of ALIVE.
Food without salt tends to be bland.
Faith without salt is bland too.
We need the “kick” of others.
We add spice to their lives
and they do the same to ours.
Now just a word of caution… I wouldn’t recommend this week that you write on a Valentines Day card to your loved one,
“You are as precious to me as salt….” or
“You are the salt of my life.”
They’re beautiful sentiments,
but your loved ones probably won’t see that
unless they are here today.
But instead, maybe on Valentines Day,
as you take that salt shaker in your hand,
you’ll be reminded,
that you are as precious as salt,
and give thanks to the person next to you or on the phone on in your heart who has salted your life…
and then give thought to how you might be salt to others.