This week, the congregation I serve is beginning a time of learning about stewardship and congregation giving using a resource called “Salt and Light”.
If we look closely at the reading (Matthew 5:13-16) one of the first questions we might ask is: How does salt lose its flavour? Table salt is stable and maintains its flavour but Dead Sea salt could leave a bad taste in your mouth because of the other minerals in the water. Jesus and his followers lived around the Dead Sea and may have been used to salt that was contaminated with these other minerals. In Jesus time, there would be no way to separate the minerals so the contaminated salt would be thrown out.
We also know that our bodies need a certain amount of salt to function properly. Too much or too little and we might find ourselves with health problems. We need salt in moderation. Our bodies need it. It can also be used to preserve food. It is used to help bread rise. It is used in healing remedies. Salt has many purposes.
Jesus tells us that we are salt. We have many purposes and are necessary. Sometimes it can be hard to see the value and worth in ourselves or others. Sometimes it can be hard to see that we bring many gifts to the world. Sometimes, we can get caught in grief or anger that consumes us. It becomes difficult to see ourselves except through that lens. Sometimes we become unhealthy—physically, emotionally or spiritually—and have trouble seeing ourselves as salt. We have trouble seeing ourselves as people who can heal, can bring out the best in others, can help to create a better world.
Jesus also calls us to be light. We are called to let the light of Christ that is within us shine for the whole world to see. The spark of God is within each one of us. We don’t turn on a light and then put a box over it to hide the light. We turn on a light so that there is light. God puts light within us and so we cannot hide that light. Sometimes we need other people to reflect our light back to us so we can see it clearly. Sometimes it is hard to see our own light but watch for people in your life who can help you see your own light. Imagine a dark room. Imagine lighting 1 candle. It will give you a pinprick of light. Now imagine lighting more candles. The light spreads more and becomes brighter. Imagine a Christmas candle service. Maybe that’s why we like those services. It reminds us of how we are light in the world.
In my own life, I haven’t always had a sense of my own light or the gifts I bring to the world. I’ve needed other people to reflect light back to me and to help me identify what I have to offer. What I have come to know is that as I use the gifts I know about, I find others that I didn’t realize I had.
We all have something to offer the world. Some of us have an abundance of time and talents. Some of have an abundance of financial resources. We are called to use whatever gifts we have been given in the world God has created.
I am passionate about the life and work of St. Andrew’s and I love being in ministry in this congregation and community. Part of what makes this such an amazing congregation is that I am not doing ministry in isolation. I am blessed with other co-workers who also share their gifts. We bring different gifts and yet what we offer enriches this congregation. In addition to the staff, this is a congregation with a high level of lay participation. People are excited by their faith and by the ministry that we are doing within the congregation and the community. These are examples of salt and light. Many people are letting their lights shine and so the congregation shines brighter and is able to do more effective ministry.
I also believe in the work of Mission and Service because God works beyond this congregation. There are needs in other places in Canada and around the world that we wouldn’t know about or that it would be difficult to support as individuals. Mission and Service allows us to pool our resources as a church to better serve God’s people.
In addition to time and talents, I support the work of St. Andrew’s and Mission and Service with financial gifts. Even though my spouse is no longer working full-time, we believe that these ministries are important and have committed to increasing our givings in the coming year. We give to the church and Mission and Service through PAR because it is convenient. In our busy lives it is challenging to remember to write cheques and pay the church regularly but it is also a sign of the priority we have for these ministries. I invite you over the next few weeks to consider your own priorities about the church and the ministries that happen through this congregation and Mission and Service. Supporting the church with our time, talents and financial resources will allow this congregation to flourish for many years to come.