The glory of God is a human fully alive, says St. Irenaeus. The Glory of God is a human, is you and I, fully alive, alive to what God has made us to be. Sometimes that is easy to understand, and something being free to be who God made us to be is hard, because sometimes it feels like the ask is so large, and the cost so dear, that it feels impossible. The need around us never ceases either, so living our faith can lead to burnout and resentment because sometimes it feels like we are never making any headway, nothing changes, the poor are still with us, war still exists, phobia and hatred still lurk all around us. So this morning as we hear Christ giving his sermon on the Mount, to a group of people like us who are trying to understand how to live this life and follow Jesus in our everyday, I wonder how we can let our light shine, a light which shows the world the power of God’s glory.
In Matthew's sermon from the Mount we hear Christ tell us again the reality of our lives, that we are salt and light. Not that we are becoming salt and light, but that we are salt and light, two integral parts of human existence for growth and development. In the right balance, salt and light bring with it the ability for growth, and new things. Salt and light also have purification properties in the right balance. But when it's over done, too much salt and too much light can kill and destroy. The difference here is how the salt and light are used, are we using it for growth or death in our world? Well, it's important we ask that question in the bounds of our lives… are we using the salt and light of God’s glory to break down walls, create community, develop a deeper faith and work for the inclusion and respect of all peoples- to bring God’s kingdom of justice and purpose, or are we using the salt and light of God’s glory for our own comfort to the exclusion of others? The answer, I think, is found in knowing who we are first- we are called, named, baptized, and sent into the world to be the hands and feet of Christ- so as Christians, with our identity as Christ’s hands and feet, we are to take and be responsible for the discipleship of ourselves and the neighbourhood we live in seriously. We are to bring the purity of salt and light- understood to be the true identity of all peoples as children of God, to the work of the Gospel in our neighbourhood, in a world that tells us it doesn’t matter.
Being fully alive is more than just producing or achieving, it's about breathing with both of our lungs in the everyday, our creative and our detailed side. Being fully alive is about having a job, a family or friends, pastimes, hobbies, pursuits, which both engage and inform all sides of our humanity. But what does that mean? It means that maybe we take a job because of passion for the work, rather than the money. Maybe we volunteer for something because it's what makes us happiest, rather than makes our resume look good. Maybe it's about seeing our whole life as interconnected, and in that interconnected nature lies our call to think about who we are, the needs around us, and how we can respond to that need with who we are.
Included in our bulletins this morning is a sermon worksheet, I invite you to find it with me now. There are pens in front of you in the pews, and hymnals we can use as writing desks. On it are three questions that the Gospel is asking you and I to think about as we prepare for Vestry, and the ministry ahead of us in 2020, a ministry which is about a discipleship of salt and light, in the midst of death and decay, isolation and anxiety. We, together in this parish, have a very important ministry to our neighbourhood, one which God has equipped each of us for.
Over the next two minutes, I want you to think about what it is you LOVE doing. It could be anything… going for coffee, talking on the phone, reading, praying, gardening, teaching. Pray about it, and in the silence write down all the things you LOVE doing.
Now, over the next two minutes, I want you to think about where you see the needs in our neighbourhood. Maybe it's the students at UBC. Maybe it's in Acadia Park housing. Maybe it's in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Maybe it's homelessness, or isolation. Pray about it, and in the silence write down all the needs you see in our neighbourhood.
Now, over the next two minutes, I want you to think about the things you love to do and reflect on the needs of our neighbourhood, and see how what you love could help overcome a need you identified. Maybe you love to read, and you identified isolation as a need- Maybe you could start a weekly coffee meet up, or a book club? Maybe you love to teach, and see children as a need- maybe you could start working with Jumy in Sunday School. Maybe you love to meet new people and social justice work are passions, and you identified homelessness as a need- maybe you could offer your time with the Neighbourhood Ministry. What do you love to do, and how can that love respond to the needs around us?
Salt and light, lead to glory. Salt is our love, our passions- the things which fill us with hope and excitement. Light is about identifying the needs- by shining our attention on the needs we see and asking questions about why it has to be like this, and God’s glory is about responding to the need we see around us. This, then, is the human fully alive: when we are following our God given passions, which unveil around us the needs of our community, and we act to engage our passions in order to meet the need- we show God’s glory in our lives and in our world.
So church, what is your salt- your passions, and your light- our neighbourhoods needs, in this season of our history together, and how can we help each other respond with our love to the needs we see to shine God’s glory together in our neighbourhood this week and this year?