Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.
Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1 Christ our Lord says:
[St. Matthew 5.13-16]
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
2 You and I, Christ says, are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As "salt" we we have been blessed with the savour of holiness in our lives that we might share it with the world around us. As "light" we have been blessed with the light of Christ, that we might shine forth in the darkness of the world, so others can see the blessing of holiness given us by our Heavenly Father.
3 And there are no limitations on this blessing of our Lord. Everyone here in this room is the salt of the earth. Each person in the Church is the light of the world. It doesn't matter if you cannot walk. It doesn't matter if you cannot talk, or see, or hear. It doesn't even matter if you're fit as a fiddle or frail as can be. Christ has spoken his blessing and it is for all the Church, no matter our physical condition. As the saints of God, we are all the salt of the earth. We are all the light of the world. For God our Father has seen fit to call us his children and redeem us all by the holy, precious blood of Christ our Lord.
4 Redeemed children of God that we are, there are times though, when we live like we are not. These are the times when we lose sight of our heavenly calling in Christ. When this happens; when we lose sight of our heavenly calling, we stand in danger of losing our savour of holiness and our light from above. If we do not remain faithful to our Lord, we are good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden underfoot. If we darken our light, we are as useless as a candle under a basket.
5 The people of God during Isaiah's time had fallen into such a state. Sure, they kept the outward forms of holiness. They kept their fasts and denied themselves, but only for selfish, sinful purposes. Thus God says:
4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 God convicts his people of their sin. They have lost the holy savour of salt in their lives. They have darkened their God-given light. They have failed to let their light shine before men that they may see their good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. We too at times are no better than they. So God says to us what he said to them:
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
As the salt of the earth and the light of the world we are created anew in Christ Jesus to do just these things. St. Paul says:
10 For we are [God's] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Thus we are called to loose the bands of wickedness from those who are entrapped in sin. We are called to ease the burdens of those who struggle emotionally, physically, or spiritually. We are called to work for freedom of the oppressed and the breaking down of everything that binds our brothers and sisters unto evil. We are called to give bread to the hungry, to welcome the poor into our own homes, to clothe the naked and never, never to hide ourselves from our own flesh and blood when they stand in need of help.
7 To fail in these callings is to lose our salty savour and to darken our heavenly light. To fail in any of these callings is to sin. And when we're honest with ourselves we see that we do not fulfill these commands of God as we ought. It's not for lack of opportunity, though, is it? We all know people caught in the wickedness of sin who cannot free themselves. We all know at least one person struggling under the heavy burden of sickness or injury, or of unhappiness of some kind. Just like we know people who are hungry, homeless, and lacking for proper clothes and shelter. These saints of God, suffering as they are, cry out to us today, and echo our Lord's call to be salt and light—to show forth the holiness of God through love for our neighbour.
8 Don't get me wrong, I know there are many times you do indeed answer God's call to help those in need. Your very presence here today reveals that you are indeed the saints of God. As such we strive mightily to live as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Your offerings are evidence of that. Your donations to things like Christ Care and Benevolent Care are indeed salt and light for the world. Your visits to friends and family who are ill; your prayers for those who suffer; your comfort for those who mourn their beloved dead all shine the light of God before men that they may glorify our Father who is in heaven. And yet, God tells us that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God: There are times when we could have helped, but didn't. There are opportunities to shine our light, but we let them go by. And there are times when we should have helped someone, but out of hardness of heart and sinful, selfish reasons, we failed to do so. When we fail to serve others as God calls us to; when we keep the outward form of our religion, but neglect the spiritual reality of God's call on our lives, we lose our savour as holy salt. We darken the light which Christ gives. And we fall into sin.
9 Such sin is a grave and grievous danger to our souls. Hear once more what our Lord says concerning it:
[St. Matthew 5.20]
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
If we are to enter at the last into the kingdom of heaven, we must be righteous. We must live as the salt of the earth. We must shine as the light of the world. But our own lives, our own experience reveals that we, by ourselves and of our own accord cannot do this as God demands.
10 So what to do? Repent! Repent of every time you reject your identity as the salt of the earth and fail to help someone in need. Repent of each instance in your life when you've failed to shine God's heavenly light upon those trapped in sinful darkness deep as death. Repent, Christ says, and believe the gospel, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. As we confess these sins of ours, God reveals his kingdom of light to us. He shows us the one who is the Light of light himself, and the Saviour of sinners. Through repentance and confession the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see that Christ has fulfilled the demands of God that we cannot and paid the price for our sin on the cross of Calvary. Through repentance, the Holy Spirit reveals that Christ, now risen from the dead has come to us to bestow upon us the blessed identity of salt of the earth and light of the world. Today, Christ comes not to destroy the Law or the Prophets, neither does he come to destroy us when we fail. But Christ our Lord comes to us today to reveal to us that he has fulfilled the Law of God on our behalf. He comes to us today to bless us with his grace so we can spread salt and light to all the world. That's what Christ means today when he says:
[St. Matthew 5.17-18]
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
11 In Christ, all is fulfilled in his life, death, and resurrection. In Christ, all is fulfilled in his holy work. Thus in Christ, our shortcomings as salt and light are forgiven. In Christ, the salt of our holiness is restored. In Christ, our light from heaven is renewed and brightened once more. For in Christ, the Law is fulfilled and we are made new. So St. Paul says,
[II Corinthians 5.17]
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Made new in Christ, we live as the salt of the earth. Made new in Christ we live our lives on this earth as the light of the world. Blessed with the Holy Spirit we answer Christ's call in faith, because it's who we are. Thus by Christ's transforming power, and the Holy Spirit's guidance, we loose the bands of wickedness for our brothers and sisters. We undo the heavy burdens that weigh down those we love. We let the oppressed go free and we break their every yoke. We share our bread with the hungry, we welcome the poor into our own homes, and we clothe the naked. And by God's grace in Christ Jesus our Lord we shall never hide ourselves from our own flesh and blood when they suffer want of any kind. It's who we are in Christ Jesus: salt of the earth and light of the world. So
[St. Matthew 5.16]
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
It's who we are in Christ. We can do no other. Amen.
Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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