Shaken AND Stirred
(Being salt for the world)
Sermon at St John the Baptist, Felixstowe – Sunday 21 May 2023
(Week 5 of Everyday Witness Course)
Text: 13You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. (from Matthew 5v13-16)
God give you peace my Sisters and Brothers.
Sometimes shopping for everyday items can be a challenge.
I, and I don’t think I am the only male of the species who has this skill, am proficient at popping into the supermarket for one or two things, walking out with a trolley-load, and then having to go back later to buy the item I had originally intended to purchase while I was being distracted by items on BOGOF and that small section of the freezer department where you can buy 48 mini-sausage rolls that have been reduced to only 69p!
But even when the shopping list is simple and direct it can be a maze of choices and a challenge to even the most experienced of shopaholics. Take salt for example. What could be more simple than that you may ask. But it is far from an easy item to buy. Let me count the ways….
- Morrisons poly bottle table salt. 750g for 65p (86.7p per Kg)
- Saxa poly bottle table salt. 750g for £1.75 (£2.33 per Kg) – apparently it costs twice as much to have a red top on your poly bottle
- Saxa Sea salt. £1.65 for 350g (£4.72 per Kg)
- Cornish Sea salt. £2.25 for 225g (£10 per Kg)
- Saxa Sea salt in a grinder. £3.49 for 200g (£17.45 per Kg)
- And Schwartz Pink Himalayan salt. £3 for 75g (£40 per Kg). This is very precious salt as I have seen some jars advertising that the Rock salt is 10s of thousands of years old but the jars carry a ‘Best Before Date’. Don’t you just love bureaucracy 😊
One would have thought that salt was salt and, apart from a few local variations in flavour, it would sell for pretty much the same price per Kilogram. But here in front of us the smallest jar of salt is 46 times more expensive than the biggest one.
But, however much these bottles, tubs and grinders of salt cost, they are worth absolutely nothing if the salt stays in the poly bottle, the tub, or the grinder. Salt is only ever any good when it is poured out of the saltshaker.
It does not matter if the salt is refined or coarse.
It does not matter if it is sea salt flakes or rock salt crystals.
It does not matter if it is £40 a kilo or under a quid a bottle.
If the salt stays in the saltshaker it is worthless.
And it is the same with Christians.
It does not matter how much Bible reading we do.
It does not matter how many times we go through our Everyday Witness notebooks.
It does not matter how many inspiring testimonies about people’s Everyday Faith we listen to.
If we are tempted to be Christians only in church and keep the Good news of God’s love to ourselves, our witness is worthless and our salt will have lost its saltiness.
All of us, Jesus reminds us, are salt, all of us are light. Some may come with more experience at being salt and light and find it easier to add flavour and brightness to life. But regardless of our ‘per kilo’ price all of us are called to turn the love God has showered on us into salt and light for the world around us. We have to get out of the saltshaker to avoid being wasted salt. Why is it that we don’t tell others about our wonderful loving God more often?
In her seminal book (available for free as an audiobook on several platforms) on Everyday Evangelism called ‘Out of the Saltshaker’ Rebecca Manley Pippert has this to say about how Christians have been perceived when telling the Good News of God’s love.
Christians and non-Christians have something in common: we’re both uptight about evangelism. Our fear as Christians seems to be How many people did I offend this week? We think that we must be a little obnoxious in order to be good evangelists. A tension builds inside: Should I be sensitive to people and forget about evangelism, or should I blast them with the gospel and forget about their dignity as human beings? Many Christians choose to be aware of the person but then feel defensive and guilty for not evangelizing.
Speaking later in the book about her friend Mary she says:
I didn’t want to dump the Gospel and she didn’t want to be dumped on!
I guess this is the problem.
We want to share something beautiful but we don’t want to be intrusive.
We have a desire to share the Good News but we want to still have some friends left.
We know that the greatest gift we can share is the gospel but we baulk at giving it away.
I know it’s been one of my problems throughout my life as I have tried to tell others of God’s love and care for them.
I have learnt the programmes and tools for evangelism; and they are numerous…
The Four Spiritual Laws.
The Book Without Words (my favourite – read about it on my blog.)
But when it comes to, as evangelist John Wimber used to say, ‘doing the stuff’, I too often take a step back unsure about shaking the salt out of the saltshaker.
What I need, perhaps what we all need, is some way of stirring up the saltshaker within us. Unlike 007 our telling of the Good News needs to be Shaken andStirred not one or the other by itself.
We have the salt within us waiting to be shaken.
We have the message of God’s love burning within us.
We need only be stirred into shaking the love of God out of us.
Worry not, help is at hand.
Next Sunday is Pentecost when the gift of the Holy Spirit turned frightened disciples into apostles and failed fisherfolk (have you noticed that the disciples could only ever catch fish when Jesus was around?) into confident proclaimers of the Gospel.
For several years now Thy Kingdom Come, a programme started by the Church of England and now spread across the world, has encouraged Christians to use the time between Ascension and Pentecost – the week ahead of us – to individually pray for five people they know to come to know the love of God more closely. In a few moments we will have a time of quiet prayer. During the silence I would like each of us to ask God to call to mind the names of five people you know who need to know God’s love more closely. If you can, write their names down. And then, as we try to shake the salt of God’s love out of the saltshakers of our lives, I would like each of us to add one extra name to that list – our own….
This week, as we pray for others to know God more let us pray that we ourselves would also come to know God’s love more closely and be so stirred by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we would be full to overflowing with salt and light and people would on ‘seeing our good works give glory to our Father in heaven.’
Collect for Thy Kingdom Come
your ascended Son has sent us into the world
to preach the good news of your kingdom:
inspire us with your Spirit
and fill our hearts with the fire of your love,
that all who hear your Word may be drawn to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This blog ‘Shaken and Stirred’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2023. It may be reproduced free of charge on condition that the source is acknowledged.