|Easter 7, Year A||May 28, 2017||Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A||John 17:1-11; 1 Peter 4;12-14; 5:6-11; Acts 1:6-14|
|Easter 6, Year A||May 21, 2017||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 17:22-31, John 14:15-21|
|Easter 5, Year A||May 14, 2017||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A||John 14:1-14|
|Easter 2, Year A||April 23, 2017||Easter 2, Year A||Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, Year A||April 16, 2017||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, Year A||April 14, 2017||Good Friday, Year A||John 18:11, 9:28-30|
|Maundy Thursday, Year A||April 13, 2017||Maundy Thursday, Year A||John 13:1-7, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year A||April 9, 2017||Palm Sunday, Year A||Matthew 26:36-46|
|Lent 5||April 2, 2017||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A, Baptism||John 11:1-45|
|Lent 4||March 26, 2017||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A||Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41|
|Lent 3||March 19, 2017||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2||March 12, 2017||Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121, John 3:1-17|
|Lent 1||March 5, 2017||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Ash Wednesday||March 1, 2017||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 26, 2017||Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Sermon Date:February 5, 2017
Scripture: Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20
Liturgy Calendar: Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A
It’s Friday night, and Wendy is at Catherine’s house for a visit.
Catherine: Hi, Wendy. I’m so glad you could come over. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you! Ben had to work late tonight, and I know Alan is playing tennis, so I thought I’d fix us a little bit of dinner. Come sit down.
Wendy: Hey, thanks! I’ve been running around all day and I’m pretty hungry. What did you fix?
Catherine: Noodles. They’re Barilla noodles.
Wendy: (looking doubtful, says hesitantly) OK….noodles……
Catherine: (putting bowls of noodles on the table) Great, I’m glad you like that idea. OK, let’s have the blessing.
“Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
Wendy: That was quite a prayer!
Catherine: It’s Sunday’s collect.
Wendy: (taking a bite of noodles) What is the sermon going to be about?
Catherine: (taking a bite of noodles) I’m trying to figure that out—but I know I love that phrase—“the liberty of abundant life” in the collect.
Wendy: I hope you won’t be offended by this—but these noodles are really bland. They have no taste! Do you have any salt?
Catherine: I’ve got several different kinds of salt. Here…..
(Catherine puts several containers of salt on the table, all sealed up in one way or another)
Wendy: (picks up various containers, all of which would be really hard to open) Catherine, why is all your salt closed up like this?
Catherine: Well, this salt is from Hawaii, and I don’t want to use it up, so I just taped it shut so that I’ll have a little bit left. I don’t think I’ll use it until I know I’m going back to Hawaii to get more.
And this one—it’s from Key West, and it seems to have gotten some moisture in it, so I’ve got it vacuum sealed—it was a gift—I can’t get any more of that, so I don’t want to use it up either. Oh, and this one—I taped it shut because when I tried to use it too much came out of the spout, and I don’t want to waste it. And this one—oh, it’s taped shut too—because it’s sea salt. That’s sort of special, and the grains are pretty large, so I taped it shut to remind myself not to use it just for cooking. If we take the tape off, it’s going to tear the container……..hmmmmmm…….I don’t have any other salt. I guess I don’t have any salt for these noodles after all.
Wendy: (Incredulously) Catherine, you have four different kinds of salt, and we can’t use any of them on these noodles?
Catherine: No, I’m sorry. Do you think the noodles are that bad?
Wendy: Well, I guess I can eat a little more. (Reluctantly takes another bite) So what are you going to preach about?
Catherine: The lectionary is covering the Sermon on the Mount for the next few weeks. Last week, Jesus gave the disciples their job descriptions when he laid out the beatitudes.
Wendy: Oh, yes! The disciples are generous enough to be poor, both in material goods and in spirit.
Catherine: And they are vulnerable enough to mourn.
Wendy: And they are brave enough to be humble, and perceptive enough to hunger after righteousness.
Catherine: And forgiving enough to show mercy, focused enough to desire pure hearts, audacious enough to strive for peace, and fearless enough to be persecuted.
Wendy: That is one daunting and challenging job description!
Catherine: That’s for sure, so good thing that Jesus spends some time telling the disciples how to BE disciples in real time.
Wendy: Jesus really took a lot of his stuff from the prophets. Isaiah says that God’s job description for us is all about setting people free—setting them free from oppression and injustice; setting them free from hunger and homelessness, and giving them a reason to hope.
Catherine: Yes! Jesus did all that himself, and he always said that he was doing all those things to give glory to God.
Wendy: And so when Jesus was teaching the disciples on the mountain, he gave them some illustrations about how to carry out their work, right?
Catherine: (thoughtfully picking up one of the salt containers) He told the disciples, “You are the salt of the earth.” Wendy, don’t you love it when you cook noodles the right way and put some salt in the boiling water—and the salt vanishes, but the water has a salty taste, and then the noodles have a hint of salt as well, and taste better than these……these noodles really aren’t very good, are they?
Wendy: Well, if you like noodles with absolutely no seasoning at all, they’re ok, but I think I’ve had enough of these for now. (pushes her bowl away)
Catherine: Well, I’m sorry about the salt situation here, but I really don’t want to use up these special salts, and these others are just too much trouble to unseal. I guess I’ll just put them all back in the cabinet and let them sit there.
Wendy: If you’re going to do that, you might as well just go on and throw all of it away. It’s no good to you, or to anyone else.
Catherine: Oh no, what happened? The lights just went out!
Wendy: Do you have any candles?
Catherine: Yes, I have a lot of candles! Let me get some of them. (Brings candles to the table)
I like this one—isn’t it pretty—it’s never even been lit! I don’t want to waste it. It’s old—it belonged to my mother in law. I don’t want to light it because it might burn down and then I wouldn’t have it any more. And here’s one. But it’s beeswax and it was a gift, so I don’t want to burn it either. We could light this one.
Wendy: OK. Do you have any matches?
Catherine: Matches? I know I have some somewhere. Just a minute. (gets up and looks in some pews) I KNOW I have some matches—but I can’t find them!
Wendy: Well, this candle isn’t really going to do us much good then. Here. We can use the light from my cell phone. I’ve got to go soon anyway so you can get your sermon written.
Catherine: I just keep thinking about St Peter’s. With the belfry up on top, and the cross on top of that, people go by and see that it’s a church. It’s a beautiful building that helps make Port Royal attractive.
Wendy: Yes, that is so true. And the people at St Peter’s are like salt and light in the best sense of the word. They don’t hoard their salt, and they really do carry God’s light into the world when they leave church on Sunday.
Catherine: Yes, we have the flame of the Holy Spirit to keep us burning with God’s love.
Wendy: Yes, salt and light. Those St Peter’s people are generous and vulnerable.
Catherine: They are brave and humble.
Wendy: They hunger after righteousness.
Catherine: They are forgiving and merciful.
Wendy: They tend their hearts.
Catherine: They have the audacity to strive for peace, and when they are persecuted for God’s sake, they are fearless. They’re like the people in Isaiah who God says are like springs of water that never fail, and they are builders—the ones who repair breaches, and restore streets.
Wendy: Catherine, I’ve got to go, and you’ve got to write your sermon. Why don’t you start by opening your salt up and doctoring up these noodles, so you can start writing without being hungry. And—you’ll need some matches so you can light your candle. (looks in her purse)
Hey, look at this—I have some matches! Take them.
Catherine: Hey, Wendy! Using some salt so these noodles taste better and lighting this candle—and maybe the others too—will help me get something written.
Wendy: You should definitely say something about the disciples’ job descriptions and what it means to have abundant life—
Catherine: Right! But in the end, it’s all a paradox. Letting go of the things I want to hold on to, so that I can have abundant life…..
Wendy: Remember, Jesus did that…..let go of even his life, so that we could have abundant life.
Catherine: And as his disciple, I want to do that same thing so that others can have abundant life too.
(Opens one of the salts and puts it on the noodles, and then lights the candles.) Look at this! Abundant life!
Thanks Wendy. Thanks for reminding me to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. I hope that whatever I finally write for Sunday will give glory to God.
Wendy: So do I, since I plan to be there to hear it.
Catherine: Come on, Holy Spirit!
Wendy and Catherine: Amen!