Sunday, February 05, 2023

The salt of the earth


‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.’

Matthew 5:13

Why is salt salty? Salt is salty because it is the nature of salt to be salty. Moreover, as Christians, we would say that it is the nature of salt to be salty because God made it so, because God willed it so.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And when all was ready, God scooped a handful of earth; shaped it between inquisitive, purposeful fingers; breathed Life into it: and so, humankind was born. In the fullness of time, God chose to become one of us, in Jesus: the air of the heavens making itself at home in the earth of the earth.

And Jesus said, to those who followed him, ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ Now, there are two kinds of salt: there is sea salt, produced by evaporation; and there is rock salt, produced by mining. And you, Jesus said, are salt of the earth, rock salt. Salt found hidden in the ground.

‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?’

For my young-adult children’s generation, ‘salty’ means getting upset with someone for no good reason. Salty, not in the sense of adding seasoning that brings out flavour, but in the sense of overwhelming other flavours. Too much salt, rather than too little. Of late, I am aware of becoming ‘salty’ rather than salt-like. It is a good indication that I need to take some time out, to come away with Jesus from the many, insatiable demands on my time.

When very young children find themselves overwhelmed, we say that they are beside themselves. That is, there is a gap between who they are and where they are. They need time out, not sent away on their own as a punishment, but simply waiting in the near presence of a loving parent, until they come back to themselves. As adults, we learn other ‘coping mechanisms,’ some of which can be quite unhealthy, but we still find ourselves, at times, overwhelmed.

In conversation with my bishop and my archdeacon, I have very graciously been given the opportunity to bring a sabbatical, planned for 2024, forward a year. I will now be taking a sabbatical, for three months, from the start of March. Other people will come alongside to carry my responsibilities, so that I might have an extended opportunity to return to myself, to my true self, which is hidden in Christ Jesus. To journey into the unseen places, to mine salt from the wounds of Christ, that my salty-ness might be laid to rest in the ground, and my saltiness might be resurrected.

And though not everyone gets a sabbatical, and not everyone needs one at this present time, we all need to make time to return to ourselves by returning to our true source.


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