I know my sermon is late, but I got really tied up this weekend. All wonderful and amazing things, but still – busy! Here’s my sermon!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
February 9, 2014
A Flavorful Faith
Yesterday I was looking at the outline for my sermon that I had written earlier in the week, and at the very top it said, “Start with a joke about the salt of the earth.”
I don’t know what that means.
“You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said to his disciples, “but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?”
Let’s think about this “salt” metaphor for a second: What does food taste like without salt or without some sort of spice or flavoring? It is just food; it is nothing special. It may be “something” to quench the hunger that you feel in your stomach, but it will not quench the hunger in your mouth and in your mind that wants to taste something truly spectacular. People crave more than just “something”.
I think the same is true for our faith. Going to church on a Sunday morning may fill that Sunday morning time slot in our weekly calendar, but that is not enough for most of us. Church really needs to fill a deeper need within us.
It is no secret that the world is changing; and as the world changes the church changes as well. Some changes are for the better – but some changes have caused churches to struggle. And I often say that if churches want to survive and thrive throughout this transition of times and changing landscape of ministry, then they need to find ways to create meaning in people’s lives. It is not enough to just offer opportunities to worship, learn and serve; churches need to create opportunities for meaningful worship, meaningful learning and meaningful service. It is no longer enough to simply “be” the church; it is no longer enough to simply be “some church”; it is no longer enough for the church to be “something”. People crave more than that. People crave more than just, “something”.
In the same way that people crave flavor in their food, they crave flavor in their faith.
One of the things that I have found throughout my time in ministry is that people no longer come to church because they are supposed to or because it is the right societal thing to do (because that is just not the case anymore). And that is actually kind of neat, because it means that if people are coming to church it is because they want to be there. And they want more from their faith!
People do not simply want to have a faith that exists in their life; they want to have a faith with flavor.
People want to find meaning in their lives, they want hear God speaking to them and they want to cultivate a faith that is relevant in the rest of the world. People do not want to just believe in a Christian faith; they want to live out a Christian faith in a way that fills that deeper need within them.
Jesus’ words in this Gospel reading – which are, again, part of his Sermon on the Mount that we started last week – remind us that we are called to live out our faith and to create this meaning. “You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world,” he proclaimed to his disciples. The Christian faith is not just about believing in something; it is also about doing something! It is about creating that flavor that we all crave so much.
The prophet Isaiah spoke to the people of Israel and he, too, reminded them that faith is not just a proclamation of a belief, but that it is also a call to action. The book of Isaiah is broken into three sections and this morning’s passage can be found in the third and final section. It was written anonymously between 538 BCE and 515 BCE, responding to claims that the people of Israel were engaging in idolatry and false worship.
Listen to this call to action:
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The prophesy given to the people of Israel was that they were called to act on their faith; to be a tangible and flavorful expression of their faith in their community. They were called to help those in need and to let their lights rise even if they found themselves in the midst of darkness.
And 500/600 years later, when Jesus came he told us that these words were ancient, but not dead and that we, too, were called to live out this prophesy.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets;” Jesus said, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”
Now Jesus’ life – Jesus’ story – was a bold and highly visible fulfillment of this prophesy. But it did not end there.
Jesus did not say he was the salt of the earth and that he was the light of the world. Jesus said that you are the salt of the earth and that you are the light of the world. And 2,000 years later, these words still speak to us.
The Gospel is not a closed book; it is the Good News – then, now and still to come. And we, too, are called to fulfill this prophesy in our lives and in our world.
We are called to let our lights rise in the midst of darkness; we are called to let our lights shine; we are called to give flavor and meaning to our faith and to the world.
My vision for this church is that we will prayerfully and passionately heed the call to create a space where all are free to come and find meaning, flavor, hope, reconciliation, grace and love in their lives. My prayer is that you will all be able to quench your hunger for a faith filled with flavor.
And that then you will go out into the world and proclaim the Good News of a flavorful faith.
Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Don’t just let your life be something; let your life mean something. Give flavor and meaning to your life, to your faith and to the world that you are living in. Proclaim the Gospel to your community and to the world in a way that is meaningful and special to you. Let your faith be relevant in the world that you are living in. Live out your faith in your everyday life and not just here at church. Let your actions speak louder than your words. Cry for justice. Love unconditionally. Never give up hope. Seek peace always. Live with joy in your heard. Bring light into the darkness.
And tell the world of your flavorful faith. Let others see it with their own eyes and seek it in their own hearts.
Thanks be to God!