It feels like it’s been a hard start to Advent. It feels like shadows have been swirling, threatening to engulf us. Threatening to obscure the way of hope. And peace. And yet, we heard the prophet Habakkuk’s words last week, and his invitation even still to rejoice in God our deliverer. Habbakuk invites us to keep watch for God at work. For God IS working.
I've seen God at work. In the beauty of fresh-fallen snow. In all the people who stepped forward to cover for Nikki this last Sunday when she was home sick. In people's willingness to deliver meals to Brennan and Katie Greene. In the invitations from colleagues and mentors to prayerfulness and the reminders from you all to "do a little God thing" or to "love wastefully." Where have you seen God at work this last week? How is God working in and through you to make the world a more just and loving place?
This week, we will hear words from Jesus, words spoken atop a mountain as he teaches the crowd. "You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world." He's not saying this to his disciples. He's not saying this to John the Baptist, to Saul who becomes Paul, or to the early church. Jesus says this to a great crowd of people gathered to hear him speak and preach. People like us -- like you and me. People who screw up and people who make up. People who love lavishly and people who are sometimes a little stingy with ourselves. People who, just like us, are gathered because they want to know God, and they want to live God's love.
"You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world." Stay salty, Jesus tells the people. (It makes me think a little bit of cities like Portland, OR and their bumper stickers that say things like "Keep Portland Weird.") Don't lose your saltiness. Don't hide your light. Because the world needs both. And, interestingly, neither salt nor light is much good by itself. Salt is only good when used to season food, when it brings out the flavor of the food -- the best food, you almost don't taste the salt, but the food's flavor is right there and it's delicious! And, if you're in the dark using a flashlight, you don't shine the light in your face, you shine it where you want to go. The light isn't what you're looking at, the light illuminates other things so we can see the way.
So our saltiness, our light are fundamentally about how we are in community -- how we are bringing forth and bringing out the gifts of those around us; how we are illuminating something by pointing somewhere besides ourselves. As this scripture in Matthew ends, ultimately our saltiness and our light help others experience God's goodness. Our saltiness and our light help others to "taste and see that God is good" (Psalm 34:8).
Jacki Jensen and NIkki Glantz will be sharing the light of their music this Sunday, playing an organ/piano duet of "Christmas Echoes." What a gift that will be!
Blessings and love to each of you,