“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16 (CEB)
This week, the lectionary continues in the Sermon on the Mount with the very familiar images of salt and light. This communion liturgy is based on Matthew 5:13-16.
As I walked down the Mount of Beatitudes, I thought about light in the world. The first thing God created was light. Like salt, it is essential to life. Light has a purpose – to guide us, to keep us from being afraid, to illuminate what is hidden, to provide warmth. Just as the suggestion that salt would stop being salty, it seems just as ridiculous that you would light a candle and hide it away or paint a light fixture black. It defeats its purpose.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus says he is the Light of the World. If Jesus is the light of the world, then how can we be? Maybe Matthew heard Jesus wrong.
But if we think back to what else Jesus said in John’s Gospel. We are reminded that if we abide in Jesus, Jesus abides in us. And when the physical Jesus left this world, Jesus didn’t leave us orphaned because we received the Holy Spirit.
So once again, we turn to Paul – this time in his second letter to the church in Corinth – to help us understand a little better what Jesus means:
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
As we abide in Christ, we become the light of the world. Certainly we’re not Jesus but our words and our actions glorify God. And that’s what I think Jesus wants us to hear the most in this passage. It’s not that God can’t save the world all on God’s own. But the way God has set up this plan of redemption, we are as essential as salt and light.
Let us give thanks to the Lord.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Holy God, you created the world and all who live in it. As your first act of Creation, you said, “Let there be light.” And there was light, and it was good. You make the sun rise on the good and evil alike, for your love has no prejudice. It is not dependent on who we are but is steadfast and true because that is who you are.
Jesus, Light of the World, you came into the world so we may have life. In the mystery of God, you call us to be light in the world because life is something to be shared. With your compassion on the sick, the poor, and the outcast, you taught us what love is. In the glory of your resurrection you demonstrated how far love will go. Love, life, light – you have given us a purpose in the world.
Holy Spirit, light within us, you enable us to be the fragrance of life and the salt of the earth. You lead our hearts so that we may season the world with grace. In the same way, you gather us at this table to sustain us so that we may be salt and light in the world.
Ever thankful, we pray that you would sprinkle salt on this meal we share today. May it renew our communion in Christ and with one another. With joy, we celebrate that this meal is not limited to this time and place. And so as you bind us together with the cup and the loaf, we give thanks that this table extends to every cathedral, sanctuary, home and group where two or three have gathered in your name.
With the boldness of those who know the love of God, the light of Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we join our voices in the prayer you taught us. Using the words each of find most familiar, we pray: Our Father…
As Jesus sat down to eat with his disciples, he took the bread, broke it and gave thanks. He then passed it to his disciples, saying, “Eat! This is my body broken for you.” Next, he took the cup, and after he had blessed it, he gave it to the disciples and said, “Drink! This is the blood of the new covenant. My blood shed for you.”
You are the salt of the earth.
You are the light of the world.
These are holy statements. And they are impossible statements. But when faced with the impossible, Jesus reminds us that in him, all things are possible. So, come: eat and drink so that your body and soul may be nourished to go out into the world and continue the ministry of Jesus.
Prayer After Communion
Faithful and loving God, you created salt within the earth to protect and heal; to cure and add flavor to the food we eat. When you created our bodies, you put that salt in us. And in you, we are the salt of the earth.
You created light to warm the world so that life could exist and find order. You came to us as light so that we would not be overcome by the darkness. And you place that light in us and call us to be the light of the world.
As we reflect on these mysteries, we give you thanks for the sustenance you have provided at your table. May our light so shine before people so that you will be glorified and the whole world would join us in our praise of you. Amen.
 John 8:12; 9:5
 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 (NRSV)
 Genesis 1:3-4
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