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Salting the World

You are the salt of the earth. But what if salt were to lost its flavor? How could you restore it? It would be fit for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. ~ Matthew 5:13

If you were a first century person sitting on a hillside listening to Jesus tell you this, you'd probably think about how important salt was for preserving food, and how salt was offered to God to show devotion and repentance, and how salt was part of the sealing of agreements because it symbolized permanence and indestructability. If someone said this to you today and you lived here in the Midwest, you'd probably think about how salt is important in keeping our roads clear of ice!

And, of course, salt is and was a seasoning, bringing increasing the wonderful flavor of food by enhancing its natural flavors. This is part of what I want to talk about today. Plus, let me add another little twist. What if, instead of being likened to a noun – you are salt of the earth – we turned it into a verb and were invited to spend our lives salting the world? What if Jesus meant that we should spend our lives salting the world bringing out the natural essence and flavor of others? 

Now our purpose is to bring forth the beauty and best in another. Now our purpose is to encourage, accept, appreciate and share wisdom. Our purpose is to help others be authentically themselves.

When I marry a couple, I always tell them that it is their job to help the other be who they were created to be, not who you want them to be. At baptism, we recognize that each child is a gift and that is it our role to help them grow into the beautiful human beings they were created to be, honoring their unique gifts and skills, and learning their connectedness to God and all of life.

And yet, how many of you have cringed at the sidelines of a soccer game, or basketball, or baseball game and heard another parent demeaning their child? That’s rubbing salt in a wound, that’s not salting them with support and love to lift them up and give them confidence.

Robin Bartlett tells a story about growing up Unitarian Universalist, and owning a chalice necklace that she only wore sometimes. Anyway, she went to divinity school in 2009 and started to change. She began to feel that unitarian Universalism lacked depth and symbolism, and she began to love Jesus with a passion. At the age of 35 she found herself seriously wanting to make a difference in the world and wondering if Unitarian Universalism could help her do that. At the same time her marriage was crumbling and she was “coming unhinged.”

And then one day, in addition to losing her marriage and her religion, she lost her chalice necklace someplace on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. She wandered up and down the street sobbing like her seven-year-old, looking for her chalice necklace and actually saying out loud over and over again, “What does it mean? What does it mean?”

She talked to her therapist and her mentor about all this, asking them if it meant God wanted her to be a Christian, and they confirmed to her that, yes, she was coming unhinged. Her mentor gave her one of her chalice necklaces and made her some soup.

Two years later, sanity restored, she bought a new chalice necklace in the shape of a cross. She felt that she could honor the place in her journey where Jesus and Unitarian Universalism meet. She wore it every day.

Then, a week before her ordination, she returned home from church and realized that her chalice cross was missing from her neck. So, she did what any normal thirty-something would do and took to FB to ask her FB friends, “What does it mean?”

And her FB friends said things like: “You need a better clasp on your chain.” “It means you don’t need outward symbols to know what is in your heart.” The most useful advice was “Get a tattoo. You can’t lose that.”

The next day she found the cross chalice in her inside coat pocket without the chain. But after all this, she wrote that what gives her hope when she is “feeling off her chain” was that when she was lost, she had people to help find her. People to bring her back to herself and her sanity. People to be honest and yet kind and caring. People to make her soup and bring her comfort. People to season her life with love that heals, lifts up and restores. Love that sees the beautiful person within and helps you to see it, too. To me, this is what salting looks like.

Don’t just be salt… practice salting.

Love & Light!