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A Grain Of Salt

Matthew 5:13-20

The Rev. Jon Roberts

9 February


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

A Grain Of Salt

Salt and Light by Yongsung Kim, c.21st C.

Sweet liberty and a life full of flavor are all but naught unless one adds a grain of salt.[1]

It’s happening, all across the country. Saltshakers are being removed from our dinner tables. People are learning and listening to the medical community that too much of a good thing is bad for you. Indeed, if you take too much salt in your life, you run the risk of hypertension, and perhaps stroke. Yes, people are looking twice before they pick up that saltshaker and to douse their foods. It is more curious to go through the grocery store and see a strange oddity. People, holding up boxes and reading the sides, looking for how many milligrams of salt may be in it. They show it to the person next to them and they both begin to shake their heads in disapproval. They never used to look in that little table of contents before. “How much sodium is in this?” “Is this too much?” “What am I allowed?” Yes, indeed salt is something intended for good but too much, can be a bad thing.

What do we know about salt? Here at our church, only a block from the Gulf of Mexico, we know a thing or two about salt. We know it is water you do not want to drink. We may like to swim in it, but we dare not drink it. The scientist will say there are 35 parts per thousand of salt in that body of water. That’s about three and a half percent of the weight of the volume of water. Salt is all around us and one can say salt is within us. What makes salt so special? Here are some of its qualities. The first that comes to mind is that it adds flavor. It enriches our lives by adding to the flavor of our foods. Another quality of salt is that it is a preservative. It can make things stay longer on the shelf or in the refrigerator. Thirdly, salt is helpful to melt ice. Those who live in the north will be the first to say that on a wintery day, with ice and snow on the road, salt can be a lifesaver. Lastly, salt can purify. It can purify, even water if added in the right proportion.

What do they mean when they say too much salt can be bad for us? Pliny the Elder, a church historian, has an interesting opinion on salt. The saying, “Take it with a grain of salt,” was believed to come from him. He lived during the times when transportation was sometimes doubtful on the Roman roads. There were many travelers and sometimes precious cargo was at risk of being robbed. Guarding the roads was essential to lead from the salt mines back to Rome, because salt was most valuable. The Centurions protected the salt trade more than any other import because they were paid by the revenue made on salt. The word “salarium” comes from it, and the word “salary” derives from it and is used today to describe what one earns from their employment. A grain of salt was referred as the anecdote if poisoned. It had great value. What do we have today that measures up to the value of salt? You may say petroleum, or oil, and that would be a good example. Whoever controls the trade routes of that substance and can ensure its delivery will receive big profits. Salt, in the days of Pliny, were used to control the world because it cured people, enriched diets, preserved foods, could break through ice and purify that which was contaminated. It was a life changing substance.

There was a movie that came out about a young african-American boy, displaced from his home as a youngster. When people saw him, they tried to avoid this huge man-child, named Michael Oher. The movie was expressing the special relationship between him and his surrogate mother, who happened to be white, called, Ms. Tuohy. Their relationship would be one of great flavor as each gave purpose to the other. Michael’s nature was to be a protector and Ms. Tuohy recognized this and got him a football scholarship to protect “The Blind Side” of the quarterback. It was this side, the quarterback was most vulnerable as he could not see that direction. Michael signed with Ole Miss and became a local legend. His relationship with Ms. Tuohy continues. We learn from this story that life is about how we travel along God’s highway, asking Him to watch after our blindsides; to enrich our lives, adding flavor with complementing diversity, and purification from the sin of turning others away. One example, such as this one, demonstrates how the compassion of a willing soul is like a grain of salt. Are you the one who is giving or protecting life or receiving life. Are you giving 3%? That’s all the ocean needs of salt but maybe we are the 3% of the world needed to be of help to the world.

In the Old Testament we see this relationship in Isaiah where the prophet says, “What are you calling me to do? Is it not to share the bread with the hungry? To bring the homeless and poor into my house? When you see the naked, not to cover yourself and hide yourself from your own kin?” Brothers and sisters, we are called to be that salt; that light and that city on a hill. Choose whatever analogy you wish, but be the one who gives life to others, as God has called you to do on His behalf. Share with others out of your abundance and be surprised repeatedly by how much more God has given back. My father always told me, “You can never outgive God” and that is a true statement. What are ways you can maintain your saltiness is to give of yourself. It is to say to God, “Lord I know that on this day you will preserve me. Purify me and make me whole. You will give me traction and protection.” These are the qualities of life that God gives us and the properties we are to share with others in need of salvation. Jesus tells us that we are to maintain our saltiness for that very reason, to live into our own parish motto, “To know Christ and make Him known.” Provide salt to the earth by giving to the salt of the earth. Look for those around you who need life, who need to be freed from bondage. Oh, how sweet. Sweet liberty and a life full of flavor are all but naught unless one adds a grain of salt.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[3] Isaiah 58:1-9
[4] Matthew 5:13-20

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