Be Salt & Be Light

Be Salt & Be Light

March 26, 2017  |  Fourth Sunday in Lent, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Be Salt & Be Light

Grace and peace to you and through you

I am sure you have been called many names in your life. Some you would probably prefer not to remember, while others you hang onto for dear life as they anchor your depths. Well, I want to remind you of an occasion when Jesus called you two names. Jesus said you are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” {Matthew 5:13-20}. Pause a moment to absorb the amazing affirmation and responsibility of these names. First, you are the salt of the earth. Jesus calls and trusts you to bring flavour to the world – his flavour of gentleness and justice. As salt you don’t do everything but you make everything you mix with more tasty. Yes you are tiny, yet your power is not connected to your size, but rather how willing you are to lose yourself for the sake of the whole – for the sake of the common pot – the common good.

In a world where power loves to be “on show” your power is only released and experienced to the extent that it is hidden. You know not to stand out. You are called to humbly hide. You spoil the taste when you can be seen shining on the surface, but you exquisitely enrich the taste when no one can see you. You are called to make that which surrounds you flourish with flavour. There is no limit to what you can achieve for good if you are willing not to take credit for it.

Second, you are the light of the world. At first this may sound like it contradicts the non-attention seeking salt, but think about it: who ever turns on a light in order to stare at the light? To do so is pointless because to stare at the light makes one blind. We turn on the light not to see the light but to see what the light reveals. Light is not the creator of what is but rather the revealer of what is. You are the light of the world says Jesus and as light the focus is not on you but on what you enable others to see because of you. True light, unlike the limelight, deflects attention rather than seeks it. Some things can only grow in the light while other things cannot survive in the light. What grows and what dies in our presence is a question worth carrying.

Now just to spin things around for a moment, the psalmist reminds us that “the darkness is as light to you O God” {Ps 139} and the prophet Isaiah states ‘I will give you treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places that you may know that I am the Lord…” {Isa 43:3}. So as we wrestle with what it means to be called the salt of the earth and the light of the world we do so not on a crusade to extinguish all darkness but with an inquisitive spirit open to discover the treasures of darkness. To help us do this here is a poem by David Whyte:

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

Grace, Alan

Coming Home

Coming Home

March 6, 2016  |  Fourth Sunday in Lent, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Coming Home

Seven Degrees of Separation

What does it mean to come home? Literally, for me, it means walking across the street to the Market House building and riding the elevator to the seventh floor. Yet, the question is deeper than the logistics of my steps. Living where I live is a wonderful gift and a privilege that keeps my mind awhirl with questions. So many around me in the world do not sleep in their own room, nor do they have the luxury of living alone. My flat is small, but it is also more than I need. There are seven degrees of separation between myself and so many in this world. Coming home, I have learned, is what I do when I ride the elevator down and walk out and see the world for what it really is. It is a home we are called to share in beloved community.

How amazing is Table Mountain? How alive is the sea here? There are trees that demonstrate the notion of resting under the shadow of so brilliantly. These truths can draw from us a common united sigh in our recognition of God’s handiwork. Yet, please don’t invite a move closer to the ground to see the beauty in the others that live under our feet. I wish the answer to coming home to beloved community were as easy as where we live. It makes a difference where we locate ourselves, but it is not as easy as moving from the seventh floor to the first. I wish it were. Privilege is a tricky thing. It is not something we can erase. We can shed it a bit at a time, but the more privileged you are, the more access you have to always return.

Jesus was questioned about who he shared meals with, who he spent time with, and he was known to always be on the move. So, coming home for Jesus was a weaving sort of thing. His heart was always with those who live closer to the bottom floor, the poor. His voice shook the halls of places where the powerful make their beds. His presence was for all. Jesus’ life was about weaving together a people into beloved community. We find our way home when we learn to truly live into the privilege of our humanity. What a gift it is to be full of breath, life, and the gift of opportunity to live life in ways that begin to erase the seven degrees and create circles where our eyes truly see the others in God’s community. Coming home is when we learn to live God’s dream as if it were the very air we breathe.

Desmond Tutu shared this in his book God’s Dream, “I have a dream God said. Please help me to realize it. It is a dream of a world whose ugliness, squalor, and poverty, its war and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are changed into the glorious counterparts, where there will be more laughter, joy and peace, where there will be more justice, goodness, compassion and love and caring and sharing. I have a dream that swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, that my children will know that they are members of one family, the human family, God’s family. My family.” The view from the seventh floor is stunning, but life on the ground, it is where we learn how to come home to God’s dream.

With you on the journey,
Michelle