Sermon on the Mount Series, Sermon #2 - SALT AND LIGHT
Rev. April S Blaine, Given on Sunday, August 4th @ the All Church Retreat
Last week, we talked about this audacious claim – that EVERYONE is blessed.
In Scripture, there are two words translated "blessed", makarios and eulogetos (from eu = good, well + logos = word), the latter meaning that we speak well of someone (as when we hear a eulogy at a funeral, the eulogy speaking well of that person who has passed on from life to death). In contrast, makarios is not to speak well of someone, but defines a condition that exists. In other words, makarios describes something that is true about someone, not something that someone says is true about them. Makarios is a reality, an inward state of truth no matter how you actually feel. In other words, to be "blessed" as defined by makarios, one does not have to feel "happy" to be blessed. You can still be blessed and act as if you are not happy. Makarios defines one's state of being in relation to God, independent of how one feels about it at a given moment in time.
In ancient Greek times, makarios referred to the gods. The blessed ones were the gods. They had achieved a state of happiness and contentment in life that was beyond all cares, labors, and even death. The blessed ones were beings who lived in some other world away from the cares and problems and worries of ordinary people. To be blessed, you had to be a god.
Makarios took on a second meaning. It referred to the "dead". The blessed ones were humans, who, through death, had reached the other world of the gods. They were now beyond the cares and problems and worries of earthly life. To be blessed, you had to be dead.
Finally, in Greek usage, makarios came to refer to the elite, the upper crust of society, the wealthy people. It referred to people whose riches and power put them above the normal cares and problems and worries of the lesser folk -- the peons, who constantly struggle and worry and labor in life. To be blessed, you had to be very rich and powerful.
When this word, makarios was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it took on another meaning. It referred to the results of right living or righteousness. If you lived right, you were blessed. Being blessed meant you received earthly, material things: a good wife, many children, abundant crops, riches, honor, wisdom, beauty, good health, etc. A blessed person had more things and better things than an ordinary person. To be blessed, you had to have big and beautiful things.
In all of these meanings, the "blessed" ones lived in a higher plane than the rest of us. They were gods. They were humans who had gone to the world of the gods. They were the wealthy, upper crust. They were those with many possessions. The blessed were those people and beings who lived above the normal cares, problems, and worries of normal people.
Jesus uses this word in a totally different way. He points to the average, the ordinary, the everyday... and says -
You are BLESSED.
You don't have to wait, or be in an elite group, to be blessed.
Your blessedness is rooted in the fact that God's kingdom is available to you now.
And then, after he has blown their minds in this way - he goes even further...
You who I have already deemed as blessed.
You are called -
to be salt of the earth...
To preserve this kingdom.
Salt - at the time was expensive. It was used less for flavor than for preserving food.
Shine the light of your blessedness – let the world see
We are all blessed
And the way that God’s kingdom will come near to all of the world – the way that people will know about this crazy idea that everyone is blessed – that God’s love is coming near to EVERYONE – is that we will be the ones.
We’ll be the ones to preserve the kingdom – the way that God wanted us to live.
And we’ll be the ones to let people see it.
That’s the plan.
And the whole rest of the sermon is going to teach us how to do it.
And their first response – would have been to think he was crazy – so he addresses this –
Don’t think I’ve come to abolish the law and the prophets…
This is all in line with the tradition from the beginning.
You are the salt
You are the light.
And now I’m going to tell you how to live so you can be sure not to miss the point.
I have to tell you there are days when I am thinking – God you are absolutely nuts.
This is not a good plan.
I’m not sure you’ve chosen wisely.
But then I remember that I’m not alone in this call.
Salt – isn’t every found one tiny crystal on its own.
And a city on a hill – is the combination of a lot of small lights – shining together…
We’re more able to do this work if we are doing it together –
With other blessed people –
Bringing forth the kingdom.