Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pentecost 18 - Proper 21

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Chartered February 25, 1838
Celebrating our 174th Year

Pentecost 18 - Proper 21
30 September 2012
Mark 9:50
Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another

Everlasting Father, source of every blessing, mercifully direct and govern us by Your Holy Spirit that we may complete the work You have prepared for us to do.
Ritual and liturgy – in particular, the sacred words of Scripture, which tells us specifically of the person and work of Jesus Christ – is what transforms and changes the lives of people – this is what influences our culture and the world in which we live.

Take the latest, hip, teenage rage into the church- just to prove you’re relevant!” Anyone want to guess who said that? Of all persons, it was none other than - Bart Simpson! Yes, that Bart Simpson, from the Fox network cartoon series “The Simpsons”. What is your reaction to that statement? “Take the latest, hip, teenage rage into the church - just to prove you’re relevant!” Is that a fair indictment on the church today?

What is need in the church today is to be a people of distinction.  Jesus reminds us that Christians are to be different. We are to be as salt and light. In recent years, the cry was that Christians should get into the world and identify with it. “Get with the times” was the cry heard from almost every corner of the church. We were told - get out of your church buildings; cease to be an institution but rather a movement in the world. When we did this, or, at least attempted it, the church lost much of its distinctiveness and became so much like the world. In many respects, we became as salt without saltiness.

Today, the argument centers on ascetics, spacing and marketing. To speak to the world around us there some who would argue that we must remove anything which could become, or have the potential, of being offensive. Some new formed churches has gone to the extreme, not placing a cross in their worship space as to not to give offense or insult to others.

The prevailing voices of change would argue that altars, crosses, and stained glass must all go. Pews must be exchanged for stadium seating, with the sancturary replaced by a stage.

By design, there is an ever-increasing practice not to disclose a congregation’s theological stance and leaning. In alphabetical order, we have The Bridge, The Chapel, the Crossroads, Grace Gatherings, Grace Point, Jacob’s Well; The Liquid Church, and Promise Ministries, eight churches in our area that have chosen not to disclose their denomination affiliation. Is there a reason why some congregation would not want you to know their theological point of reference?  Of these eight afore mentioned churches can you identify which are Lutheran, or Methodist?  Could you recognize which is associated with the Church of the Nazarene and which is a member of the United Brethren Church?  True, we need to dare to be different; we need to engage the world but we need to keep our uniqueness.  Regardless of worship style, we need to have a form of ritual, which is irreplaceable, something, which is our own. We need ritual. Without ritual there ceases to be any communication of the sacred.  

Are we Christians to sound and appear just like the rest of the world? Not according to the Savior in our text for today. Ritual and liturgy – in particular the sacred words of Scripture which tells us specifically of the person and work of Jesus Christ – is what transforms and changes the lives of people – this is what influences our culture and the world in which we live.

So, what is the solution? Christians are to be salty saints because, like salt –

  1. Christians purify society
  2. Christians preserve society
  3. Christians season society

  1. Christians, they purify society.

A.      Think where the world would be without Christ’s light. Jesus cautioned His audience, however, against losing that which they had received from Him, which was what had brought on them their goodness. Without the Gospel, without the message of the cross, the church becomes just another human organization.

B.      The gospel, however, shining in the world brings good and makes this world better. Jesus said that the disciples were like salt, for they exercised the valuable functions of seasoning and purifying the world, and this was good.

  1. As Salty Saints, Christians preserve society.

A.      The Word will keep the world safe. Mark the scripture well. “Greater is He that is in you then he who is in the world.” Do you believe this? Christ has conquered. The gospel wins the day. We are more then conquerors through Christ who loves us.

B.      The Word will keep the world saved. The Lord has promised to preserve you. You are salt. Salt preserves. His purpose is to guard and keep you. He will never, ever let you go. His desire is to keep you in this one, true faith. As He ransomed and redeemed this world He will keep those who are His safe and content.

  1. Salty Saints season society.

A.      There are talents, gifts, blessings that God our heavenly Father has given to His Church to make a difference. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Will you use your gifts for the Savior? Recall the company ServiceMasterTM the cleansing service started by Marian Wade had its beginnings in Chicago where Wade worked out of his home. Wade had a strong personal faith and a desire to honor God in all he did. Hence, the name of the company, ServiceMaster, giving service to the Master.

B.      Where you live and serve in your community to be a blessing and to make the world better. The big difference – the last phrase – we live at peace with one another. Jesus told His hearers were to be at peace with each other, what they would need for this purpose would be to have in themselves – salt; that is to say, they needed love for their neighbors, and a readiness to serve them, and to be ready to make sacrifices for their sakes.

As a Christian, you are salt and light in this world. Through the power of the gospel the message of Jesus Christ and His crucified, you are purifying, preserving and giving season and spice to life in this world.

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