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5th Sunday after Epiphany (year a)

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Texts & Discussion:

Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
Psalm 112:1-9(10)
1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)
Matthew 5:13-20

Other Resources:


Matthew Henry,    Wesley

Word Study:

This Week's Themes:

Serving Over Fasting
Divine Wisdom Within 
Let Your Light Shine


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Salt of the earth
Matthew 17:1-9
HW in HI

Salt of the earth. If someone says you are the salt of the earth, it means you are a good person, probably without a lot of pretense. Probably a lot of people here would not mind being called the salt of the earth.

Now salt can be good or bad. We use it for our food, mostly, but too much salt can give people heart problems. You can find "salt substitute" in a lot of our homes. Salt was a different thing for people 2,000 years ago than it is today. Salt in older days was good for preserving food, for healing, for enhancing the taste of food.

So it is time to travel back a couple of thousand years to a time very different than our own. Ovens were made of earth. Jesus spoke Aramaic, and in Armaic, the same word is used for oven as for earth. So when Jesus said "You are the salt of the earth", he could very well have been saying "You are the salt of the oven."

Nowadays, when we light an oven we generally push a switch or turn a dial. If it is an older gas oven we might just light a match. Or maybe we cook on an outdoor grill, again, we light a match. But those earthen ovens of thousands of years ago did not use electricity or gas or charcoal. And in most homes they did not use wood. They burnt dried manure. And they used salt to ignite it. Salt accumulated by the sea in big piles. The pure salt would ignite the ovens. The old salt would not.

So when Jesus says to us, "You are the salt of the earth." He is saying that we are what is used to ignite something. To make something burn. To get something going.

What is really interesting is that he doesn't say, "Go and be the salt of the earth." He doesn't say, "You are called to be the salt of the earth." He says, "You Are. " Moses asked God who he was, and God said, "I am that I am". And Jesus told us "You are the salt of the earth."

What's really interesting is that he didn't say, "You are and you are and you are." He used the plural. You folks are the salt of the earth. Together. Go ignite something!

And in case we don't get it, in case the culture of 2,000 years ago has gotten a bit distant for us, he told us again: You are the light of the world. Not I want you to be the light of the world. But you folks are. Let your light shine.

Episcopalians don't really want to let our lights shine. Well, maybe, a small and appropriate light. Most of us really don't respond well to someone insisting on telling us about the kingdom. Most of us aren't anxious to shout our faith from the roof tops.  [continue]