Sunday, September 27, 2009

Today's sermon: "Have salt in yourselves."

Today's sermon is from Mark 9:38-50

“Have salt in yourself, and be at peace with one another.”

When I was a teenager, I raced small sailboats on San Francisco Bay. Our favorite stretch of water was near what we called “the Salt Pile,” which technically speaking is the Cargill Saltworks.

The salt pile was as big as a mountain and could be seen from 20 miles away on San Francisco Bay.

Huge salt evaporation pools ring the Bay. Salt water fills the pools, the water evaporates,
and then the remaining salt is scrapped up and deposited on a big mound that can be loaded onto ships. At its peak, the Saltworks shipped 350,000 tons of salt a year.
That is a lot of salt.

We used to race our sailboats around the salt pile, and it gave me a lot of time to think about salt and what the pile of salt represents.
Salt is life, and the salt from San Francisco Bay went to every corner of the globe bringing life.

I am not sure Jesus ever saw a salt pile like this one, but he knew exactly what he was talking about when he mentions salt.

Jesus is not talking about salt as a condiment on your French fries, although he cracks a little joke along that line: “If salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?”

Jesus is talking about salt as the essence of life. Our life is dependant on salt. Seawater is about 3.5 percent salt. That is same proportion as salt in your blood. We are literally from the sea, and we cannot live without salt.

But go a little deeper than that. Jesus is talking about more than just maintaining your biological functions.

Jesus is declaring we should live our life to its fullest promise, as God gives us this life. Life is supposed to be salty, not stale. Jesus throws all kinds of images our way to make the same point. He is practically shouting at us:

“Everyone will be salted with fire.”
“If your hand causes your to stumble, cut it off.”
“If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off.”
“Better to be lame than to be thrown into hell.”

None of these word images make the slightest sense if you take them word for word, as literally true. Jesus is certainly not advocating self-mutilation. Salt does not come from fire. Your hands are not what make your feet stumble. Cutting off your feet will not make you more stable when walking.

Rather, Jesus is telling us to live, and be bold about it. Sprinkle some salt on it. Maybe a little pepper, too. Spice it up. Do not be bland.

God gives us this tremendous gift of life. We greet this gift of life one day at time. Use your gifts, use them vigorously. Put some salt in it.

Throw away the things that get in your way from living life to the fullest as God would have you live. If you need to make changes in your life, make the changes. If your salt has lost its saltiness, find new salt.

This is not about self-indulgence. It is about honoring God by honoring your health, and bringing healing and hope to all who need it. Live a life that brings life to yourself and all those around you. You are never too old or young to start.

How? The clues are right here with you. “Have salt in yourselves,” Jesus says.

“Have salt in yourselves.”

All that you need is within you. God has given you and I everything we need, all the salt we need to live fully, abundantly, joyfully. God provides, we lack nothing, and blessings upon blessings are ours forever.

Yet, sometimes we don’t notice what is in front of us.

Sometimes all we need do is pause long enough to notice the salt right here. The idea of slowing down, resting – noticing – is the idea of Sabbath. The idea is to let the salt pile up a bit and then we might see it.

Sunday – today – by the way, is not the Sabbath day. It is a feast day, and the first day of the week. The Sabbath day is traditionally the seventh day, and that would be yesterday, Saturday. I hope your Sabbath yesterday was wonderful and full of saltiness.

As Jesus points out elsewhere in the gospels, Sabbath is not meant as an obligation; Sabbath is a gift to us so that we might notice our blessings.

Let me suggest we give ourselves Sabbath every day. Look for the gifts of Sabbath along the way in your daily travels. Take moments to look, to listen for the Holy. Slow down, pause, ask yourself: What gives me life right now? Where is the salt? Take stock.

If there is something not giving you life, get rid of it, cut it off. And then embrace that which gives you life. Salt is all around you and inside you:

“Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” AMEN.

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