SCRIPTURE: Matthew 5:13-20
Black beans. Salty, potent, pungent flavor pods, that bring savory taste to steamed fish, or stir fried lobster. Sam Choy has this amazing recipe in his cook book that takes chopped lobster tails and cooks them with black beans, garlic, ginger, sherry and tomatoes. These salty black beans are so filled with flavor that they need to be soaked and rinsed off with water before you use them (and they still are salty). Black beans add seasoning that blends these flavors together. But
if black beans loose their saltiness, they are good for nothing and then begin to look like little rat dropping.
Being light to the world is to be unique. Being light to the world is another way of saying that we are holy or set apart for God. Not in a stand offish kind of way, but just in knowing about God’s love. What we know about God, through the forgiveness that Jesus makes possible, is different from the how the rest of the world understands God. What we know about God’s grace through Jesus Christ helps us to be better people, than what we could possibly be on our own. What we know about God through the love of Jesus illuminates God’s lavish love for for those who are sick, outcaste, lonely and alienated. What we know is not the usual way the world perceives God. What we know is unique but if we keep this
light hidden and only for ourselves, then our neighbors won't be able to benefit from God’s light from us. Being light, we are a city on a hill. People can either think we are compelling or hypocrites. Being light on a hill, we can be seen as amazing or for show. Being a community of light, we can be known as being genuine or a bunch of phonies. We are the former; compelling, amazing and genuine. Jesus does not trump the prophets or the commandments, but rather, he shows how the promises of the prophets become fulfilled and how anyone can bring the commandments to life by living them. Jesus isn’t bringing a new teaching to replace the old but is showing how the truth of God can be lived, how the commandments have not change, how living in covenant is not just following a bunch of rules but a deeply practical way to live, full of truth and grace and as a blessing to our neighbors. So whoever breaks even one of the least of these commandments, that
represent the will of God and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But if you are using the commandments as a way to work yourself into the good graces of God. Then you are going to have to live lives more obsessive and compulsive than the scribes and Pharisees. They have a reputation of being fastidious about the Law and its practice. If we want to have righteousness before God using the Law, we are going to have to step up our game with lives with better self-control lives and legalism than the scribes and Pharisees. Or we can believe in Jesus and receive righteousness as a gracious gift from God through forgiveness. We can live grace filled lives in relationship with God. The purpose of righteousness is to live in relationship with God. The only way we can achieve righteousness is as a gift of grace from God and not by our good works.
Jesus tells us that we are salt and light as we seek to live as God’s people in the world. With the Spirit’s help, we offer our gifts and talents to extend the reach of God’s realm. What are some of the "indelibly etched pictures" of God's love
that our congregation has drawn?
It would look like members of Iao UCC and our church cleaning the house at 2351 Main Street and eating sandwiches together. Our tenant has moved out and we are leasing this building back to Iao UCC for their new pastor (if ratified by congregational vote). We were cleaning it together to get it ready for the new pastor.
We would have portraits of the saints of our church which we have treated with respect and honor. We would have a picture of a car, because so many of you have picked up and given rides to members who could no longer drive.
We would have a picture of a brown easy chair in the middle of our sanctuary for Dot Romson because she was having difficulty sitting and we brought this chair in the sanctuary so she could still come and worship with us.
We would have a picture of Bubu and Finagan as welcomed additions to our service who love unconditionally.
We would have a picture of the big brown table in Dodge Hall with food on it from all of the Ohanas and Aloha Hours and special occasions. We would have a picture of service men who were stations at Specklesville
and came up here for service and were served delicate little finger sandwiches during the second world war.
We would have a picture of a rummage sale, where we practice stewardship by getting rid of wonderful items so people can get what they need at great prices.
We would have a picture of the stained glass windows that are receivers of light and display our faith in art.
We would have a picture of the organ. That is a symbol of our hearts that sing praises to our God. The $41,000 that was raised to continue this part of worship and ministry. And we would have a picture of Damira because she is an answer to prayer because what good is having an organ if we don’t have anyone to play it? Katherine Matthews says it best in her UCC commentary: when people encounter us--as individuals and as communities of faith--they should see and sense more: they should feel hope, they should feel the possibility of a "different world," Charles Cousar writes, "marked by unheard-of reconciliation, simple truth-telling, outrageous generosity, and love of one's enemies". We're called not to make just a refreshing but a reinvigorating difference in the world, so that all who watch us will feel new life, new vitality, new possibility, new hope, new beauty.
What we know about God through Jesus is so revolutionary it has transformed the way we live. Living in relationship with God makes us live savory, light filled lives. Very simply, to participate in the mission of God, all we have to do is to be a little more salty infusing our surroundings with the flavors of Black Beans, Chung Choi, Harm Ha, Bagong, Nato, gochujang, love, forgiveness and grace and then let the light of God shining through us as savory extroverts. We know we are doing this right, when our neighbors’ lives become infused with the spices of God and they begin to shine.