Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.
from Eucharistic Prayer C in the Book of Common Prayer
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
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
After a talk I gave at a church on the topic of spiritual growth, a woman confessed: “I don’t know why all this talk about spiritual growth and transformation. I don’t expect anything to happen to me at church.” As I thought about her comment, I recognized that many people come to church to be comforted, to experience solace, to heal the wounds the world inflicts. In an unsettled world, many people seek stability, constancy, predictability. All good reasons. But maybe not the whole story.
Because if ever there was a change agent, it would be Jesus. He repeats metaphors about growth. He calls his disciples to follow him, not to stay put. He comes offering new life, abundant life and he invites his followers to participate in that process. Which brings us to the salt metaphor which he uses in the Sermon on the Mount.
Over the years, the phrase “salt of the earth” has come to mean what? A mensch? The real deal? I don’t know exactly what Jesus had in mind with the image, but I think of all the properties of salt. It heals and cleanses. It preserves. It melts coldness. It makes stuff taste better. In Jesus’ culture, it was highly valuable. It makes life more interesting. Put all that together, and whatever Jesus had in mind, it seems that transformation is intended. His disciples were meant to bring growth, to bring change to their contexts, to make life more interesting, more appetizing, more healing. To make a difference.
So this morning, take this opportunity to look in your own spiritual rear-view mirror. How over the course of your life have you been transformed? Compare your spiritual life this morning to where you were spiritually five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago. Are you in the same place? Have you changed? How so? What were the catalysts for that change?
Then think about whether you expect to be changed now. Are you open to the possibility that God has something new in store for you? That you can keep on growing? One church that was identified as being a particularly complacent crafted this tongue-in-cheek tagline: “We’re spiritually shallow and fine with that.” The call of the gospel is to keep on growing. As disciples, we are learners, and there is always more to learn.
Finally, think about how you might be that agent of change in your own context. What are the opportunities for you to be a healing, cleansing agent? What opportunities are there for you to preserve? What opportunities are there for you to melt coldness of heart? What opportunities are there for you to simply make life more interesting for the sake of those around you?
When I was serving as a rector, someone once asked me: “If tomorrow morning your church disappeared from your community, would anyone notice? What would be the difference?” We can ask that about our faith communities. We could ask that about the impact we have as individuals. Jesus calls us to be salt in a world that is hungry, hurting, calling for healing, preservation, interest. How will you live out that kind of saltiness?
Ready to help the folks in your congregation refocus on their spiritual journeys? Join our January cohort of RenewalWorks participants…
The mission of RenewalWorks is to help churches (and individuals in them) refocus on spiritual growth and identify ways that God is calling them to grow. Now is a great time to engage this process and chart the course forward. We would love to help you on that journey. Contact us if you would like to learn more about RenewalWorks, or if you have other thoughts and ideas about fostering spiritual growth as we emerge from the pandemic.