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EDITORIAL REFLECTIONS

Just a few grains of salt can season the world with peace

As Bethany Presbyterian Church celebrated its final worship in the 56-year-old building that housed the 100-year-old congregation, they ceremonially put their sacred items in an ark made by a member.  That helped them identify with the Exodus narrative of wandering into the wilderness seeking their new location and ministry.

While they emptied closets, gave away pews and met there one last time, they remained clear on their intent to remain together as a community called to integrity, justice, welcome and inclusion of “all God’s children with no exception.”

We now can dream of what God’s Kingdom should be—God’s beloved community articulated by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Isaiah’s vision of the lamb and lion lying down together.

We know we are part of a long line of people who have set off on a journey.  We have thought hard about moving from Third and Freya, but the move of ancestors from Europe to the New World was harder.

Our role is to continue to be salt, not salt that overpowers the delicate dance of faith, but enough to open and unlock the subtlety of a meal so people can better appreciate it.

We have salt in ourselves.  When we work hard, we sweat and the salt in us comes out.

Salt is faith.  We need faith in ourselves to be at peace among ourselves.  Salt is in each of us.  Peace comes from the faith we own and live, the faith that becomes our ethic as we live on our journey.

In Exodus the people complained because of their selfishness and greed.  Faith/salt is something we have, but we do not choose to live by it all the time.  We think that everything in the Bible is about perfection, but the Bible story is how people, imperfect as they are, follow “the pillar and cloud” into the wilderness despite their tendency to shut down and mess things up.

There is subtlety in our lives as we dream into God’s Kingdom.  Let salt season our world. It takes only a grain of salt to be faithful.  Let’s party to celebrate that God has been in this place.  This holy place will be with us as we move on.  It’s in the marrow of who the congregation is.  The stories we tell will be with us and others as subtle seasoning that will be noticed.

In cleaning out my office I found a summer 1983 A.D. magazine, which the Presbyterians and United Church of Christ published together.  The cover story was:  “Holy Space:  Does God Need Buildings?”  Usually, we do not question if we will have a building, but where we go and how we arrive is important in community building.

What faith does it take to move a mountain or a building?  Just a pinch of salt.

What does it take to stand by marginalized people, people who are not considered good enough?  Just a few grains of salt.

What does it take to give hope and grace in this narcissistic society lost in greed?  Just a few grains of salt.

Guess who the few grains are!  We are!  We are powerful and have influence in the world. 

We provide a place of acceptance where it does not matter what racial, political or sexual orientation we are.  We seek to welcome, love and honor everyone, providing a place where they can feel safe in a world of anger and violence, where they find others interested in doing faith not just talking about faith.

As salt, we are called to live in integrity that transcends the fears of this society.  Jesus asks us to season the world delicately, to be at peace among and beyond ourselves, to be counter cultural, seditious, nonviolent, human affirming, environment loving.

Saltiness is a choice on how we will journey forward.  What we have been in the past, what we are in the present and what we will be into the future is holy.

We walk by faith, not by sight.

The Rev. Paul Rodkey - Bethany Presbyterian - excerpts from closing sermon