Minister: Rev. Lee Spice
Theme: Inside Out – Our Heart’s Treasure
Anthem: Open Thou Mine Eyes………Rutter
To listen to Rev. Lee Spice’s messages, click here.
November 6: Our Heart’s Treasure
Matthew 5: 13 – 16
In her book “Accidental Saints,” Nadia Bolz-Weber describes a talk that she somehow was compelled to give to a convention of 12,000 teenagers.
In truth, she was petrified. The founder of The Church of All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado felt out of her league – to use the example from the Book of Jonah, she felt as if God were sending her to Nineveh, and she really liked the climate of Tarshish.
Nadia is what my husband might call, “Quite something.” A trim six-foot-tall body-builder with tattoos from head to toe, she has a background alcoholism, partying and promiscuity.
As she stood before the crowd, she told them that she was definitely not the kind of person of which their parents would approve. “I’m a sarcastic, heavily tattooed angry person who swears like a truck driver. I am a flawed person, who shouldn’t be allowed to talk to you.”
“But that’s the God we’re dealing with, people.”
The crowd went wild.
Turns out that this f-bomb-dropping, tattooed former stand-up-comic has been called by God to be a pastor to people who have never believed they could possibly be loved by God. She offers communion every week to many who have never believed they are welcome at God’s table.
That’s the God we’re dealing with.
I imagine that, long years ago, this is the message that Jesus was trying to bring to the group of baffled people, when he talked about salt and light.
You are the salt of the earth. Salt, in the ancient world, was a treasure – not just for taste, but for the preservation of food. And even though we don’t need as much salt as most of us consume, we do need salt to live.
And a city upon a hill cannot be hid. The light from the city helps everyone to find their directions in the dark (before the times of GPS), and lit the way to safety.
I’ve often heard this passage used in a kind of chiding guilt-producing way. “Come on, people, get out there and be the salt of the earth for the WHOLE WORLD! Shine, shine, shine, like “this little light of mine,” which we will sing in a few minutes.
Now, I’m an extrovert, and this just wigs me out, so I can imagine that all of the introverts are ready to head for the hills.
But not necessarily the hill where your light is supposed to shine. Some other hills.
Last week, when we were celebrating All Saints’ Day, we heard one version of what is often called “The Beatitudes.” That’s a word that means “Extreme blessedness.” In either of the versions, we hear Jesus say that people are blessed – in a very counter-intuitive way. Instead of saying that people are blessed because they have a lot of riches, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor.” Instead of saying the people are blessed with everything going well, he says, “Blessed are those who mourn.”
Jesus is talking about the Realm of God – an upside-down situation in which the last are first and the first last.
It’s a realm where one big surprise is that God calls the unprepared, inexperienced and often unwilling to participate in the work of the kin-dom – loving our neighbours, feeding the hungry, standing up for the voiceless, praying for our enemies, comforting the afflicted, and sometimes, afflicting the comfortable.
And why is it possible for the unprepared, inexperienced and often unwilling to do the work of the kin-dom?
Because that’s the God we’re dealing with.
As Nadia points out in her very good book, we are not the blessing. As Christ-like as many people are, we are not Christ personified, bringing healing to the downhearted and hope to the weary. The blessing…the presence of Christ, is in the needs of the poor being met, in the gifts that are going to the children at Closer to Home, and in the sustenance that sandwiches going to the Drop In are providing.
Because God’s is the light that shines in our gloomy hearts – that’s why we have light to take to a hilltop. Because God is the treasured salt in our lives – that’s why we can nourish the whole world.
The same Nadia Bolz Weber that was speaking with the youth was giving an address in Chicago, at an event called “Why Christian.” I was there. She was doing a little roll call of the participants, and when she got to the United Methodists, she said, “How’s that Christian perfection thing coming?” It was meant in jest, because, as we all know, Christians aren’t perfect. But the Methodist understanding is that the word “perfection” means “completion,” and no one – No one – is complete without God. And, actually, that’s what Lutherans and Calvanists and Presbyterians believe as well, which is why I think that the Presbyterians and Methodists in Canada decided to get along and form the United Church of Canada in 1925…but that’s another story.
That zestiness, that saltiness that light, comes from God. That is what completes us.
Because God provides the saltiness or the zestiness – the essence of life – then we can share that God-presence with the world.
What I’m trying to say, here, is that we are allowed to be unprepared, inexperienced, and even a little unwilling, but if we allow God to work through us, God works through us.
Our hearts’ treasure is salt and light, and it all comes from The Holy One.
Yeah, I know. Sometimes think we’re the wrong people for the job. We wouldn’t be the first, nor the last. But there is something in each of you that was placed by God to be a blessing to the world. What is it?
Are you someone who is called to prayer? Are you the one who chooses to stand up for the marginalized? Are you called to stand where I am standing, and proclaim the Word? Are you called to be the worker-person – the one making muffins and sandwiches? Is that little seed of God’s goodness calling you to support the church even more? Is the zestiness in you meant to be shared with children and youth? Is that light- and salt of God inside of you pushing you outside of these walls and outside of your comfort zone?
Really? So God’s light can shine through the unprepared, inexperienced and maybe even the unwilling? So God can bring zestiness to the world through any one of us?
Yes. And that’s the God we’re dealing with. May it be so.