Sunday, February 6, 2011

Salt and Light

Are you sometimes doubting? Are you at times unsure if you really are the salt of the earth or the light of the world?
Jesus calls his followers salt and light. And maybe they were. After all they were special people. They were people who were called by Jesus to follow him and live in God’s love. So they might very well have been light and salt. But we?!? Hey, we know ourselves good enough to not assume we could be that light and salt. 
But Jesus is not only talking to his disciples, he is also talking to us. We are his chosen and called followers. We are those so-called special people. We are also ourselves. And so we doubt. We doubt that we could really be what Jesus wants us to be. Jesus knows that. And so he encourages us: with humor! You are the light of the world, he tells the disciples. So who would hide such a light under a bushel?
Well, no one would! Because if you do you would either snuff out the light or more likely set the basket on fire. So nah, we don’t do that! 
And salt?!? 
Well, salt is useless if it looses its saltiness. But salt cannot loose its saltiness. It can dissolve in water - and turn the water salty. It might become lumpy or a solid block due to humidity. But it never looses its saltiness. So, dear disciples (those 2000 years ago and you today) you cannot loose your saltiness! You ARE the salt! Even if you doubt! 
But these days the world seems to be more filled with the salt of tears then with the salt essential for life.
No one seems to behave like God’s salt and light anymore. Instead the world seems to be filled with violence, anger and pain. 
But if we are God’s salt and light, where can we find the strength to live a salty and light-filled life? A life that reflects God’s light instead of a life that hides lights and sets flames to others?
I am sure most of you have some deep and meaningful memories of past meals that happened around your table at home. Or around the table in your parent’s home. They might be memories of past Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. They might be happy memories, or uplifting or sometimes even challenging. Most of the time we remember those special meals because we were given something special during that meal. 
We might remember gifts of laughter, or the friendly back and forth between Aunt Edna and Uncle Gus. It might have been the gift of happy fellowship or maybe the gift of grieving together. Whatever it may be, we remember because something special happened.
Some of my dear and deep memories are about Thanksgiving Dinners around our table. Both my husband’s and my family live far away in Germany. So there is no family to celebrate Thanksgiving with. Still we have never been alone on Thanksgiving. 
Most years since we moved to the US we celebrated Thanksgiving with strangers. Foreign students from Baeren-University who had signed up to spent Thanksgiving with a family to see and experience what this holiday is all about. 
And so people came to our house. Some could hardly speak English, others felt uncomfortable about the candles on our table, others were surprised or maybe even disappointed by the food. But still we had wonderful conversations, sharing in the lives of one another. And after the meal they would leave something with us. Something I would like to share with you today: their thanksgiving. 
(Show table cloth) 
All that you see (or maybe not see because you sit like a good Lutheran in the last pew) are their prayers and words of Thanksgiving. 
They were able to share their thanksgiving with strangers. They were able to be thankful even though they were far away from home and loved ones. They were able to be thankful even though their time in this country might not have been what they had hoped for. Even as strangers they were able to see God’s promises. 
Whenever I struggle and doubt I try to remember all those different faces and voices that have blessed our table over the years. I try to remember their willingness to be thankful in the midst of uncertainty. And I try to find my own voice before God to give thanks for those gifts in my life. Those strangers around our table are at times my salt and light when I am struggling. 
We all are salt and light. Even though we might never realize it. All your big and small gestures of love, care and forgiveness have been, are and will be the light and salt of the earth. 
Those cans of soup: salt and light. The get-well-card to a friend : salt and light. Your prayers for those in need: salt and light. 
You are God’s salt and light! 
Even on those days when you doubt your ability to be that salt and light.  
We are nourished by God to be what is needed in the world. 
We are nourished at that table by meeting Jesus in the bread and wine. 
We are nourished by our memories of all the people around our own tables. 
And we are nourished by all of you, all of us - our brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing that together by the will and strength of God we will be the salt and light and will carry each other through fear and pain. 
And that I will never doubt!

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