Tuesday, 21 July 2009

New Wine

We are off to Newark for the New wine conference on Saturday. I am really looking forward to it this year! I was not in a very good place the first time we went, two years ago, and last year the memories of the previous one were still very fresh. This year it will be great and there are even a few seminars which I am already planning to go to.

It is a good time to socialise with people from church as well, some people, you see in a very different light when you camp alongside them, and it is often easier to share experiences with other people in a context like this.

Here are some photos from previous years new wines!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Salt and light

Jesus had a way of taking things which seem small and insignificant and showing us that they can transform the world. He had us considering lilies and birds; he taught us about mustard seeds and lost sheep. Now here he is exhorting us to be salt!

‘You are the salt of the earth’ he tells us. Not- you should be the salt of the earth, or you might be the salt of the earth, or even you will be the salt of the earth if you work hard at it. No, Jesus is simply telling us what we already are: You are the salt of the earth.

Salt- sodium Chloride is a stable compound. By its very nature it cannot lose its saltiness. Jesus knew that, so why does he say, ‘if salt loses its saltiness, it is useless.’? The idea of unsalty salt is foolishness. In fact in some translations, the word useless is translated as foolishness. Moros – the same word is used in the Hebrew to describe the man who built his house on the sand and the maidens who brought lamps without oil to the wedding feast. A house built on sand? Moros! Oil-lamps with no oil? Moros! Unsalty salt? Moros! Salt without saltiness is the abject denial of its very identity. Jesus is not telling us to change into salt and light, he is saying be salt- be ourselves...salt salts, light lights, we are being told to act upon our nature. Be the people God has created us to be.

In Jesus time, people would have known of the preserving property of salt, of its ability to combat deterioration and decay. As Christians in society, we need to influence people. We should use our influence to prevent decay and corruption in society. We can all do this, all of us - whether or not we hold positions of power or leadership. We do it simply by being ourselves, by living out our lives in God.

Similarly it would have been widely known that salt was used to kill bacteria and promote healing. As Christians it is our role to share the reality that broken lives can be made whole again in Jesus Christ. That there is healing for both the spiritually and physically sick.

Purity. Salt was considered the most pure of substances. It came from the sun and the sea. As Christians in the world, we need to maintain the purity of our own lives in order to lead others to the purity of Christ.

Many people disregard the idea that salt as a fertilizer may have been important in the interpretation of this passage. I don’t know what you think, but I see it as quite an important aspect of Jesus’ words. A certain amount of salt was dug into the earth to make the earth more fruitful, more productive. Lives impregnated with Jesus, are productive lives. These lives bear fruit as they grow. Jesus words were ‘you are the salt of the earth’ When he spoke them, he may indeed have had in mind the salt that was then dug into the earth to enrich the soil.

As it is today, salt was also used to season food. We should not be bland and boring. Let us not be the type of Christians the playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote about, 'Hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, flat-breasted all; they brood their lives away, unspurred by ambition,' We are salt! We give flavour to the world, we are diffusers of joy. We need to affect the people we meet day by day. If we don’t affect the world, the world will affect us.

Salt and light have one thing in common: Neither of them exist for their own sake, but rather they are there to make a difference to their surroundings. I’ll leave you to think about that!