By The Rev. Yein Esther Kim
Isaiah 58; I Cor. 2:1-12; Matt. 5:13-20
Today we have finally shared with you our Mission Statement. And how appropriate the gospel is today for our Mission Statement! Even perfect to the last verse “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
The reading for today implies two fundamental questions of life. Who are we? What are we to do? These questions linger in the minds of many individuals and congregations today. Today Jesus calls us to be like salt and light, and both have implications for the exercise of mission and pastoral ministry
For Korean cuisine, which is so much bigger than Korean BBQ that has taken over the restaurant scene in Southern California, salt is very important. Like food, salt brings out the flavor to our pastoral relationships with each other. Salt has an edge as well as a satisfying taste. It makes come alive what would otherwise seem tasteless and bland. Salt can also be used as a preservative, keeping food fresh for an extended period of time. Salt is also used to stimulate thirst. You see where I am going? If we lack this passion for justice and living into God’s reordering of human life, then they, in effect, break the covenantal relationship that originates with God and is extended to humanity through Jesus.
Archbishop William Temple is often quoted saying “The church is the only organization on earth that exists for those who are not its members.” In order to for the light to be seen, we must be willing to go where the darkness exists, to engage and walk through it, so that in time the light can overcome it. Light is not given for our personal enjoyment.
Human righteousness is about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As the salt of the earth, we are disciples of Jesus when we allow our characters to be formed by God’ blessings. As the light of the world, we are followers of Jesus when accept the covenantal blessings as a call into relationship with despised groups because of what we believe – even if it means that we may be persecuted.
My husband has this annoying habit of prodding. When I say things like, “I am so hungry I haven’t had anything to eat today.” And he goes “Really? Nothing? Not a thing? Are you sure?” I get annoyed probably because I know what I said is not true. I must have drank coffee or ate a cookie or something.
God loves us, no exceptions. We love God. We welcome all. We serve the world.
This is our Mission Statement. It sounds great. But we really need to ask ourselves constantly, to the point of guilty annoyance. “Really? Do we really love God? Do we really welcome all? All? Like…everybody? Do we really serve the world? Isn’t the world just a bland salt-less food or isn’t the world in a deep darkness still?”
We have declared ourselves to be a Sanctuary Congregation. We have done endless loads of Laundry and served many plates of food in the park. Don’t get me wrong, I think we are doing great work. But it is not enough. Will it ever be enough? Truth is, we wouldn’t know until we have done enough.
Also, we can’t just pick one. I really love God, so I should be okay…
If we love God, we cannot not welcome all. We cannot not serve the world. God loves us without exceptions and it is about time that we act like we mean it. God loves us, no exceptions. We love God. We welcome all. We serve the world. Amen.