Be Salty!—Lenten Wednesday Evening Prayer

Sermon delivered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Perkasie, PA

Genesis 1:26-31
Matthew 5:13-16

[Apologies for the loss of audio in the first minute or so of my reflection! Hang in there.]

What are your favorite foods? Whatever they are, I’m sure they are your favorites because they taste good!

In Genesis God says, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” And further, Genesis says about God: “God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

And Jesus too speaks of taste, of tongues, of the importance of savoriness. “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” Here Jesus invites us deeper, however, than just taste. Now we are the salt, we are the ingredient that makes creation taste good.

Growing up I think I got the impression that good things, that joy, was somehow a contradiction to God. God was a dour judge. And Jesus was too busy to enjoy anything.

However, I think Scripture is clear here: the foods we love, the joy we have, is not a contradiction to God. But, in fact, it is the specific place where God begins to meet us.  In meals and taste, we begin to practice gratitude, we thank God for the creation of the Earth, which sustains all food. No Earth, no soil, no plants yielding seed, no food We thank God for the Earth.

With favorite foods, with joy in eating, how could we not start that chain of gratitude? We begin to meet what God is about in good taste. What is a favorite food but a delight, a joyful occasion? We begin to experience the goodness of creation there. We’ve got to start somewhere, and from this place we can let it grow.

Let’s back up and take a different angle on this topic: I think a very fair question of being Christian, of following Christ, of being baptized is: what is the point? The seemingly cold answer of the Church, of the Creeds, is salvation. But what is that? How does that matter to me, to my bottom line?

If it’s about some kind of heavenly exchange between God and Jesus, What does food matter then, what does anything matter? In reality, “salvation” thought of this way, really doesn’t matter to a bottom line, or to a busy schedule, or a real lived-life. If anything, being saved by God, being saved by Grace from our sinful selves— which we can in no way escape from—is inconvenient! It undermines our schedule, it makes a mockery of our busy-ness and our day to day worries.

But the point of creation, the point of Jesus, the point of salvation is not just salvation for its own sake: the point is love. The point is to reveal God’s love. God made a good creation, with an Earth that sprouts food that sustains us. When we turned our faces away, so God became flesh to reorient us to God, to show us the way.

Love is the point—to show love.

It’s not wrong to say: I love a good hamburger. I love Saag Paneer or Massaman Curry I love roasted sweet potatoes and avocados. It’s not wrong: it’s just the opening point. The love in us, the love between us and God, both directions is the salt, and in Jesus’ metaphor joy is the flavor.

The point of all this, all this worshipping, all this striving during COVID to reach out to continuing praising God, to continue to meet God in the Holy Meal of Eucharist, the point is joy. If love has no joy what is the point? It’s no longer love. If salt has no taste, what is it? It ain’t salt, so throw it out, says Jesus.

The first step of course, is acknowledging joy when it comes to us. Acknowledging the joy as a reminder from God’s Holy Spirit. This joy, of course, comes as we share the stories of God in Scripture, It comes as we remember our baptism. It comes as we come again and again to meet God in the Holy Communion meal.

But, if we’re honest, it comes wherever God chooses for it to come. And that, most of the time, is outside the walls of this church. If Jesus becoming flesh for us proves anything it’s this: God is not in competition with reality, but cooperates with it! So be in love and enjoy! Be salty, be joyful!

But make sure to let your joy shine when you can find it, like a light for others to see.