Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. Francis Episcopal Church, Goldsboro, NC; 5th Sunday after Epiphany, 5 Feb. 2017
RCL Year A: Isaiah 58:1-9a, (9b-12); Psalm 112:1-9, (10); Corinthians 2:1-12, (13-16); Matthew 5:13-20
A pinch of salt in food1, a little light in the dark enhance life.
Jesus says: “You are the salt of the earth....You are the light of the world.” Paul says: We are the mind of Christ. When, where, how?
Notice, Jesus says: You ARE the salt. You ARE the light.2 Paul says we HAVE the mind of Christ. When is NOW.
This is your/our state of being NOW, not something over & done, not something yet-to-be in this bitter, darkened world.
You/We are this trinity of life enhancers NOW.
This sounds challenging. Remember: it takes only a little salt to make a big difference in a recipe, as sermons4kids notes about today's Gospel.3 As salt, we help enhance life for our brothers & sisters in the human family.
In the dark, a little flashlight helps us see. As light, we participants in the Jesus Movement, shine God's love in darkened lives. Having Jesus in our lives enhances the world around us, the lives we touch.
We know hatred & bitterness exist trying to block the light of God's love. We know what this looks like: We see it in our news. What we don't usually see in our news is the Good News: We/you DO shine light in this sometimes darkened world.
Think of the respect for human dignity & the smiles you offer at the Soup Kitchen, engaging in conversations with & listening to God's children as we serve.
This is just one of many ways you shine God's light of love.
Isaiah tells us: When we act as God calls us to act, our light rises in the darkness. God guides us, satisfies our needs, makes us strong, makes us like a watered garden...Then we rebuild...ruins, repair damage so where we are is a place of life where people can live.
I wonder if we are so used to doing this, we don't recognize the positive impact we have. How do we do this?
Isaiah says we do this when we loose the bonds of injustice, let the oppressed go free, share our bread with the hungry, bring the homeless into our house, cover the naked, & not hide ourselves from our own kin. [Some of us know about hiding from our own kin!]
Who is our kin? Some are sitting here. God's family is large & includes all our brothers & sisters in the human family.
What happens when we do as God wants us to do, when we offer holy hospitality? Isaiah says: our light shines.
Why should our light shine? Jesus says: so others may see your good works & give glory to God. We do this for the glory of God, our Father in heaven. We do this for our brothers & sisters to see & know God's love up close & personal.
Human charity, compassion, shining the Light of God in darkness comes to us through the Holy Spirit. St. Paul tells us: Your faith rests not on human wisdom but on the power of God. You have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that you may understand the gifts given us by God.
What God gives us is a gift for us to use & share.
We have the mind of Christ. This makes it possible for us to shine our light where we are. Jesus says: You are the light of the world...No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, so it gives light to all in the house...let your light shine, so...[others] may see your good works & give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Remember the song “This little light of mine”4?
“This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.”
Are you gonna “Hide it under a bushel?”
“NO! I'm gonna let it shine.”
[Congregation joins in singing.]
How do you keep your light shining? How do you recharge God's light within you?
Sharing Holy Communion with your Brothers & Sisters here is one way to recharge this light so you can shine!
Ponder this as you prepare to come to God's Holy Table for refreshment & strength.
Bowron, Josh. “You are the Salt of the Earth, Epiphany 5(A) – February 5, 2017”. Accessed: 31 Jan. 2017. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2017/01/11/you-are-the-salt-of-the-earth-epiphany-5a-february-5-2017/
Dios Habla Hoy: La Biblia. 2da Ed. Nueva York: Sociedad Bíblica Americana. 1983.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1977.
“Plugged in and Turned on for Jesus”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/pluggedin.html Accessed: 5 Feb. 2017.
“Salt of the Earth”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/ Accessed: 4 Feb. 2017.
2 The Rev. Josh Bowron, rector of St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC. “You are the Salt of the Earth...”. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2017/01/11/you-are-the-salt-of-the-earth-epiphany-5a-february-5-2017/
3 Ibid. “Salt of the Earth”.