Was Jesus a foodie?

Many of you know that I am a bit of a foodie.

I wax eloquent upon tasting a sprinkle of Vietnamese cinnamon on a banana

And rhapsodize on the revelatory nature of a hint of toasted cumin in a rice pilaf.

One thing I learned quickly as an early cook was the importance of salt.

It enhances flavor, providing a layer of taste that other flavors build on.

You notice this quality of salt mostly when it’s not there:

A chocolate chip cookie without that teaspoon of salt or

Pasta cooked without salt in the water is bland, missing something.

But add that little bit of salt, and all the sudden, zing! The food has flavor.

Salt has many culinary properties:

Brining foods like turkey or fish amps up the flavor and retains moisture.

Salt provides texture and enhances color in meat and cheese.

It can counteract bitterness in foods like olives, and make sweet foods sweeter,

like a dash of salt on a sun ripe tomato.

Jesus knew the importance of salt when he said, “You are the salt of the earth.”

Maybe he was a foodie too!

In his day, salt was critical in the preservation of food; it contained elements for essential human health.

Salt was used for medicinal purposes, such as drawing out an infection.

It was such a precious commodity in ancient times that in some places it was even used as currency.

Salt had intrinsic worth.

I find it noteworthy therefore that Jesus says in the sermon on the Mount, You are the salt of the earth.

If salt was so valuable, it seems that he should be saying, I am the salt of the earth.

After all, in the Gospel of John, Jesus says, I am the light of the world.

But here he turns the phrase on its head and says to the crowd, You are the light of the world.

This might make sense if Jesus were giving a graduation speech at Harvard,

Or introducing the next Nobel Prize winner.

But Jesus was not addressing the who’s who of first century society.

He was talking to a motley crowd—people desperate enough or suspicious enough

To follow an itinerant preacher into the wilderness.

They were the poor, the sick, without power or connections.

They were the ones on the edge of losing hope, the ones for whom suffering and failure were companions.

The forgotten.

But not by Jesus.

To Jesus, they had intrinsic value; they had something important to share with the world.

To Jesus this ragtag army was salt:

the seasoning the world needed, the critical element to bring out all the other flavors.

We are here today to celebrate the confirmation of eight young people:

Zach, Reed, Katherine, Dylan, Stephanie, Abby, Meredith, and Claire.

Over the last two years, we’ve eaten a lot meals together.

We have shared family favorites before class like turkey and stuffing, mac-n-cheese

and Gidman casserole (ask Dylan).

We have cooked for others together, Taco Bake for the Friday Night Gathering at Grace in Hartford.

We have eaten out on our way up to Calumet,

-- one of our members even experienced his first trip to McDonald’s!

Together we have learned to appreciate the unique value of each person:

We know that Zach is good at solving a problem, and Abby is the first volunteer for any class activity;

Claire is an awesome free throw shooter, Reed a top notch horn player,

And Meredith is an amazing shot in archery.

Katherine cares about people, and could always use another hour of sleep;

Stephanie is such a singer that she hums even when she doesn’t know it.

Each person in our class brought a special flavor that enhanced our overall experience.

The official name of the rite of confirmation is Affirmation of Baptism.

It’s an affirmation, a saying ‘yes’ to God, who said ‘yes’ to you in baptism.

Our class talked about how saying ‘yes’ is promising to live out your faith on a daily basis.

In the rite of affirmation these eight young people will promise

To live among God’s faithful people

To hear God’s word and share in the Lord’s supper

To proclaim the good news of God in Christ in word and deed

To serve all people, following the example of Jesus,

To strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

Zach, Reed, Katherine, Dylan, Stephanie, Abby, Meredith, and Claire,

These promises spell out your mission as a Christian.

Another way to say it is to be the salt of the earth.

Your job as a confirmed Christian is to be that sprinkle salt that makes the difference for someone else.

But remember: Salt is never the star ingredient.

It isn’t the sole feature.

It’s the canvas upon which God’s mural of flavor is painted.

It is the supporting actor that brings out the best in others.

Your mission is to add your special zing! to the world.

They are big promises—being like Christ in word and deed,

serving all people (even the ones we don’t like), striving for justice and peace!

It’s a wonder anyone says yes!

But it is possible to say yes today because you have been given the gifts of the Spirit.

They were given to you in your Baptism, and we are going to pray them into you again today

through the laying on of hands, the ancient gesture conferring the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit’s gifts empower people to be more and do more than they ever thought possible

When we lay hands on you, you become what Jesus says, the salt of the earth.

Precious and valuable

Essential to life

Adding the zest of Jesus everywhere you go.

Zach, Reed, Katherine, Dylan, Stephanie, Abby, Meredith, and Claire,

This bland old world needs you!

It needs your unique blend of energy and passion and zaniness.

The hurting world needs your gifts of care and service.

This congregation needs your unique personalities and gifts.

God wants to make a difference through you.

Bring your full self to the task of living out your faith and working for peace and justice.

Go and Be Salt, and add your zing! wherever you go.

Children’s Sermon

(Backpack and Weights-Label weights Homelessness, Nakedness, Hunger, Injustice, Oppression)

If I say the word ‘light’ to you, what would you say is it’s opposite?

It has two opposites: dark and heavy.

Our passage from Isaiah uses the dark/light opposites:

if you offer your food to the hungry   and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,  then your light shall rise in the darkness   and your gloom be like the noonday.

But the passage also implies the other opposite -- heaviness.

Can you see what the heaviness is? Show the weights.

People were fasting, a religious practice, to put off the weight

But God wanted them to use their actions to lift off these weights from others.

God wanted the people to lighten the weight by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless.

God calls us today to lift these weights from others.

Family Promise launching next month, our week in late May.

What will you do to lighten the weight?

It’s a way for us to share God’s light and to lighten someone else’s load.

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