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Isaiah 58:1-9a Psalm 112:1-9 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 Matthew 5:13-20 Epiphany 5, 2017 Last weekend I was able to enjoy, well mostly enjoy a wonderful weekend with 8 of our youth. We spent the weekend at Eagle Eyre at the Virginia Synod youth event know as Winter Celebration. The theme was “walking the ridgeline” and it was based on the 121st Psalm. As we lift our eyes up to the hills we know that our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth who will be with us through all our journeys in life. It was a fun weekend, even with 9 hours of sleep. But, I hope and pray our high schoolers know how important and freeing it is to spend a weekend with several hundred others discussing faith, life, and hope for the future. Last week we were able to be salt and light! Last week we could see the light shining in the darkness. Last week we were able to be the salt for the earth. One of the exercises involved talking about Biblical stories that mentioned travel. The author of the material, I assume Dave Delaney, our wonderful assistant to the Bishop, highlighted several stories and then applied a hashtag or Tweeter handle to each one since Twitter has been in the news so much lately. • Well, Garden of Eden was nice while it lasted. Headed east! #stupid_serpent (Adam and Eve, Genesis 3) • Anyone out there know how to navigate the largest ocean ever? #smells_like_a_zoo (Noah, Genesis 6) • Being sold to traders by my 10 brothers only slightly better than dying in a pit #miss_my_nice_coat (Joseph, Genesis 37) • Headed to the promised land with 600,000 of my closest friends – shouldn’t take long. #traveling_light (Moses, Exodus 12) • Can see Jericho from here – didn’t expect walls. #change_of_plans (Joshua, Joshua 6) • So this census had to hit when I’m at 9 months? Really? At least I hear they have a nice Inn there. #are_we_there_yet (Mary, Luke 2) • Trying to get through hostile Samaria. Can’t leave Jesus alone without him starting a conversation. #why_did_I_give_up_fishing (James / John / Peter / Andrew, John 4) • Sorry to hear about @Lazarus, but there will be 12 more dead if we go up to that funeral! #doubtful (Thomas, John 11) • Walking to Damascus to round up more Christians. Had it with this Jesus nonsense. #not_my_messiah (Paul, Acts 9) It was the last one that made me stop for a minute… #not_my_messiah. I wonder, and in the group of adults I led, we wondered together if Jesus is really our Messiah. Please don’t hear me wrong. I am still convinced the Jesus came down to earth in order to live, teach, heal, share the good news, die and be raised on the third day. This is the gospel message. But I wonder if we are really and truly ready to claim Jesus as our Messiah? After all, this is the Messiah who comes and acts as no other Messiah figure ever has. Messiah’s were supposed to be warrior figures who drove out the oppressors. This Messiah came and asked us to be peacemakers. Messiah’s were about establishing an earthly kingdom that came with the conventional wisdom, power, and affluent décor. This Messiah shunned power and instead talked of an earthly kingdom, taunted those who thought they were too wise, and shunned the basic necessities such as extra tunics, purses with money and a place to lay down his head. Messiah’s were supposed to gather around them a cadre of impressive warriors and leaders who would go out and persuade the people to join them. This Messiah called fishermen, tax collectors, and common folk to help him bring about the kingdom of heaven. This was not the crowd to use in order to usher in any sort of kingdom, yet for Jesus they showed distinct and interesting possibilities! The Messiah was supposed to uphold the rules and laws of God’s commandments. This Messiah claims to not abolish but fulfill them. Jesus is the new law and the new commandment. As such, this Messiah overturns laws that appear more concerned about human issues and instead focuses on those laws that proclaim love of God and neighbor. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbors: especially the poor, the foreigner, the stranger, the blind, the differently-abled, and those ones who need mercy. It is easy to see why many claimed this is not my Messiah and why we struggle with this claim as well. This salt and light stuff doesn’t always help. After all, salt is a strange thing to be talking about. Sure we use salt, but its not as important as it once was. Salt in a hot and dry place is extremely important. It could mean the difference between life and death. Salt was so important that it was used to pay Roman soldiers. According to the history of salt web site, Roman soldiers were paid in salt and this was called salarium argentum. This is where our English word salary derives from. Be salt. Be salty. Be salt for the earth! Yet, salt has been used for change. In fact, Ghandi, the great Indian non-violent leader started with salt. The English had taxed salt for a long time. They even refused to allow villagers who lived by the sea shore to collect salt from the beaches. Ghandi began walking to protest this. Over 200 miles he trekked and along the way people joined in the march. By the time they reached the shores and the sea salt beds, many had joined the original 78 who began the march. Within weeks millions of Indian people were rising up to march against the unfair taxes and oppression of the ruling government. All of this because of salt, something everyone needed. The flavor was returned and people began to understand their saltiness together. Light is perhaps a little easier to understand. We all like light, or at least some of it. My family really likes light! Every time I return home from an evening out, all the lights are on. The house is a bright shining beacon on the hill…through the bare winter trees the light cannot be hidden. It is there for all to see. In the darkness, we seek light. We don’t want our light to be hidden and we celebrate this every time we remember our baptisms. Let your light shine before others…Our light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. And when we shine our lights together, the darkness is quickly dispelled! Jesus says to us, his disciples, using the implicit imperative for you members of the professional society of English majors: You are salt, yes, but for the earth, not for yourselves. You are light, yes, but for the world, not for a closed fellowship. Salt does not loose its saltiness unless its diluted, mixed or dispersed enough to no longer matter. Together we are called to be salt for the world. Light does not loose is bluster, its shine, nor its service as a beacon on a hill unless sit is hidden away, diminished by distance or lack of fuel. Light, especially light that shines with other lights, is a darkness dispelling tool. This light, this salt is used to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for the sake of the whole world. Our light, our salt, together with the grace and love of God and the weight of our unity in Christ is sent into the world in order to proclaim this is my Messiah. Sure, we struggle with the love and the grace Christ calls us to live by. It is difficult to love God and our neighbors in a culture of fear. It is difficult to believe in free gifts that come without strings attached. Yet, it is our call to look past the fear, the rhetoric, the false claims and the tools of division and instead proclaim together…this is my Messiah. This is my Lord and savior who comes to me and too you and says: I love you, I mark you and claim you as my own, you are mine for the sake of the world. Go, be salt. Go, be light. Be salt and light for the sake to the whole world, not for your little community, family, state or nation, but for the whole world! Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works ad so glorify your Father in heaven.