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photo by revdrmom

O God of light,
your searching Spirit reveals and illumines
your presence in creation.
Shine your radiant holiness into our lives,
that we may offer our hands and hearts to your work:
to heal and shelter,
to feed and clothe,
to break every yoke and silence evil tongues. Amen.

It’s February!  The Super Bowl is over, the ground hog has seen his shadow, but we are still here in the season of Epiphany (and the RCL readings for the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany may be found here.) It’s a loonng one this year but I don’t mind. These extra Sundays in year A allow us the opportunity to tackle one of my favorite pieces of scripture, the Sermon on the Mount. With all due respect to Martin Luther, who thought Jesus set the bar impossibly high here, I find the SotM to be inspirational and aspirational. (But I may be weird, just sayin’!)

salt and light
tagul.com by revdrmom

If you didn’t celebrate the Feast of the Presentation (aka Candlemas) this past Sunday, you may have tackled the Beatitudes which immediately precede this week’s pericope. Our gospel opens with Jesus’ proclamation to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world…” What awesome and challenging analogies! Have we indeed lost our saltiness? If salt is meant to improve whatever it is combined with, is our saltiness bringing out the best in those around us, enhancing God’s kingdom? And light…we’ve been reflecting on light a great deal in this season of light, and here’s another chance. What hides our light from the world? Have you ever been in complete darkness? Can you imagine it and then imagine what difference even a tiny bit of light could make?

If Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount aren’t speaking to you this week, perhaps you’ll want to reflect on the prophet Isaiah. This is actually a passage I’d like to revisit closer to Lent because it has much to say about why we fast — something I’ve long struggled with. Feasting on the Word does a nice job explicating this, and Working Preacher nicely highlights the justice aspects of the passage….lots of good stuff to work with.

light-world-medium
Light of the World – Peace, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

Our New Testament reading comes from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, where Paul makes the case that  those who follow Jesus  must see the world through the lens of “Christ crucified” and the not the lenses we normally employ, especially those of class and status and power and wealth. Just as true today as in the 1st century, and just as hard to preach!

Do you have a sense of direction, preachers, in this long interlude before Lent? Are you inspired by the Sermon on the Mount? Challenged by Isaiah? Moved by Paul? Are you off lectionary? Join in the discussion and share you thoughts, frustrations, questions….whatever you’ve got!

Light of the World http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55234 [retrieved February 3, 2014]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/taniwha/7186910/.

11 thoughts on “Tuesday Lectionary Leanings~~Salt and light edition

  1. Going with salt and light… and the only thought so far is that it might be quite neat to hand wee sachets of salt to folk as they leave…metaphor moving into physical reality perhaps.
    But think I like David Lose’s approach over at Working Preacher – where he envisages the use of the text as a positive encouragement rather than a rebuke for being failures.

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  2. Salt and light here, too. As I said, I love the Sermon on the Mount and with the varying length of Epiphany we don’t always get this passage. My challenge is that my sermon this week is in the context of our annual meeting which raises my anxiety level a great deal. That meeting last year was the scene of some blatant misbehavior, the fallout of which we’ve been dealing with ever since.

    I think the whole notion of losing our saltiness and hiding our light bears thinking about though….there are good people here who care about the church and care about the gospels but the contentious ones have set the predominant tone….hoping I can dance gracefully around and through this.

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    1. ‘there are good people here who care about the church and care about the gospels but the contentious ones have set the predominant tone’

      Ah! You’ve nailed it, Kris. That is massively helpful – thanks!

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  3. I’m in the middle of a series on 1 Corinthians using the RCL lect. text. Holy Spirit is up this week for consideration. What are we “under the influence” of in our daily living? Going to name the networks, belief systems, self sins, etc. Took a nice walk this morning and preached it out loud. Hopefully it will come together as I put it on paper.

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  4. I am doing Salt and light. Which I also did three years ago (something I try to avoid doing in successive trienniums). But even if the sermon is relatively similar (and the liturgy will be exactly the same as I am reusing it) that is because it is such an important idea. How are we salt and light???

    THis year’s early thoughts are here:
    http://ministerialmutterings.blogspot.ca/2014/02/looking-forward-to-february-9-2014-5th.html

    My thoughts from three years ago (which included some trivia) are here:
    http://ministerialmutterings.blogspot.ca/2011/01/looking-forward-to-february-6-2011-5th.html

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  5. I’m going down the salt and light route too… two separate strands which kind of connect. Last year as I was preparing for a wedding the couple wanted something symbolic to mark the union – something that would stand out. They left it to me… I was aware that salt often gets mentioned in covenants.. and that there is reference to a salt covenant… after a little digging I discovered that every covenant includes salt because it was then a very valuable commodity – to use salt was really committing. And of course, it is also for preserving, for lengthening life of certain foods and to add flavour and depth
    So for them I got a wee salt pig.. with some rock salt crystals in it, and I wrote this blessing:
    Here is salt
    For constancy
    For preservation
    For a lasting love
    To remind you of your Salt Covenant today

    That same couple chose as one of their readings this:
    The Lighted Lamp
    Love is something eternal – the aspect may change but not the essence. There is the same difference in a person before and after he is in love as there is in an unlighted lamp and one that is burning. The lamp was there and it was a good lamp, but now it is shedding light, too, and that is its real function.

    now that’s my second strand… all I have to do is weave it all together!!
    Love Nik’s idea of wee salt packs…

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  6. I will be doing salt and light as well, along with having Scout Sunday and more kids than usual because it is the Sunday of the month that our youth choir sings. Salt and light beat out things like millstones around necks, at least!
    I am not sure if it goes anywhere, but I have been pondering my needing to use non-iodized salt for a few months this fall. Both kinds look the same, but they aren’t, and one (most of the time) provides an essential element for good health. This may be totally useless as a tiny lead on an idea for me, but at the moment it is all I have!

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  7. Salt & light here too…It’s a baptism in our small community so we’ll almost double our worship size. May tie into our kick off of our vitality program but maybe not. With so many visitors, I might be better off with a more “seeker” sensitive sermon, rather one for those “in the club”

    What do you think?

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  8. I’m preaching ‘Hood Theology, neighborhoods and hoodlums. Using Isaiah 58:12:
    12 Those who are among you shall rebuild ancient ruins;
    the foundations of many generations you shall raise up.
    You shall be called the repairer of brokenness,
    the restorer of neighborhood streets.
    RGT (Revised Gafney Translation)

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