Reflections & Worship
A Conference Minister's Message:
Keeping our Saltiness
By: Rev. Dan Romero
Our Annual Gathering Planning Committee has selected as our 2007 theme for next June’s meeting: “Salt and Light: Shiny, Spicy Faith” based on the scriptural text from Matthew 5:13-16. Although I was not privy to the thinking and development of this theme, it is intriguing and builds upon the General Synod Anniversary theme of “Let It Shine”. The selected text is part of the larger Sermon on the Mount which we have come to cherish. Nestled in this significant chapter we find Jesus words: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (vs. 13, NRSV). Jesus makes it fairly clear that once you’ve lost your usefulness, you’re toast!” It sounds a bit harsh but Jesus was serious about the mission to which the disciples had been called. It was a mission to and on behalf of the world. In Matthew the use of the word “earth” is equivalent to “world”. The very essence of who you are, Jesus was instructing, is to be present to the world. It was a word spoken not just to individuals but to the community of faith, those who were inheriting the message and ministry of Jesus.
For individuals, our faith requires continuous nurture in order to maintain its effectiveness and meaning in our lives and in the life of our communities of faith. Often we may use the phrase when referring to special people in our lives: “he/she was/is the salt of the earth” describing their qualities of genuineness, integrity, generosity and compassion. These are fruits of an active life in the spirit.
As we enter into a new year, let us commit ourselves to the renewal and nurture of our faith. In the climate in which we live today, our faith is continually tested by all kinds of realities and forces: lack of time, isolation, materialism, anxiety and fear, cynicism, and despair which inevitably leads to hopelessness. We witness the Christian faith being highjacked by the religious right and publicly portrayed as harsh, legalistic, judgmental, self serving and exclusive. All this is enough to make any salt go sour. I believe the ingredients to a life in the spirit are those mentioned in the beautiful and poetic words of Jesus we have come to know as the beatitudes that precede the statement of Jesus on “salt and light”. (Mt. 5: 1-12). You cannot separate out the call of Jesus to faithfulness in verses 13-16 without absorbing the depth of the earlier teachings. How do we maintain a zest for life and a morality anchored in Christ’s life and ministry? I suggest we begin with the beatitudes.
No one individual can embody the litany of virtues contained in the beatitudes, but collectively as a community of faith we can share our individual gifts so that we are present to the world. Without the strength of community, the mission to which God has called us in the world is lonely and ineffective. Furthermore, Christians are not the only instruments of God’s mission in the world. Persons of different faiths and traditions are equally as committed to the fulfillment of God’s mission. In humbleness we approach our task of ministry knowing that we are only a small part of the whole, and that our understanding of God’s mission agenda is limited. The diversity that we are only now beginning to reflect as a community of faith is a source of considerable insight as we move forward in the days ahead as a United Church of Christ. May this year of 2007 move us closer to finding ways of appreciating our diversity and maintaining our saltiness so that our faith and mission remains spicy.