February 9, 2014: 5th Sunday after Epiphany

Let us pray: Dear Father in heaven, since we are Your salt, Your preservative, of this earth, inspire us to be salty! Keep Your Word of truth in our conscious minds every day so that we can let our light shine and show the unchurched folks around us the beauty and grace of what being a Christian is all about. And instead of complaining about the problems we all face, enable us to look at them through the prism of good cheer that comes from Your love for us in Christ. Amen


TEXT: Matthew 5: 13-20

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Well, it’s been another interesting week in the Pinewood Lutheran family. It started on a high note for most of our extended family. We had a wonderful annual meeting last Sunday with good food, good news during our meeting, and a dedicated group of officers elected for the new year. People left with smiles ready for a Super Bowl party later in the day. The roads were clear and dry and they seemed a metaphor for the coming week. But then it all went downhill.

O, our plethora of above average children trudged off the school on Monday with visions of minimal homework in their heads. The work commute didn’t make for many naughty words from our drivers, either. It was a quiet winter interlude for a couple of days. But then, Wednesday arrived! Your Pastor and his lovely bride got up around 3:30 as Debra Ann was planning on going in to work by 4:30 to beat the snowstorm. After weighing the pros and cons, and walking Tori together while the roads were still dry, she decided differently. You see, by the time we got home at 4:30 the snow was already flying. Grumpy parents crawled out of bed, looked outside and immediately got grumpier. Some questioned God’s wisdom, some cursed the snow. Kids cheered, unless their wise teachers had already assigned extra homework. Gloom descended on most—especially after shoveling out to get going, braving a white-knuckle drive in to work, and then discovering few, if any, fellow busy-bees in the office! More bad words were thought or muttered.

It got worse when people ventured home to be greeted by mounds of white that ensnared tires and made for sore backs. “Did I really just say that? I hope the kids weren’t listening”—such thoughts floated in many minds.

Gloom fell upon the New England psyche. Will winter ever be done? People turned to Facebook to vent. Few were positive. But they felt better since misery loves company. Extra trips to the store for ice melt had to be planned. Snow removal sucked up hours. Your Pastor saw the church mail box ruined by a snowplow and let his blood pressure shoot up briefly. One little, well medium sized, snowstorm, dominated everyone’s week and none of us was a pillar of good cheer, were we? Did anyone actually think or say: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it?” I thought so.


Yet, here we are today. We’re safe and sound. The snow is plowed and the sidewalks are shoveled. We survived despite our black attitudes. And our lesson’s opening line takes on a new meaning when Jesus says: “You are the salt of the earth.” Yes, He remade us to melt away icy hearts and cold attitudes. Trouble is: we didn’t do a very good job, did we?—Starting with ourselves….

However, you came to the right place this morning. Pinewood preaches God’s Word. His Word warms our hearts and dispels our gloom and doom attitude. It’s like one of those giant salt piles squirreled away by each town which breathes hope with every scoop. So, if you’ve lost your saltiness this past week, here it gets renewed with new doses of God’s grace! Yes, because Christ has preserved and protected you, even from yourself, with His saving grace, your life won’t go down the gutter when His sunshine warms the world.

Speaking of sunshine, wasn’t Thursday glorious and Friday a repeat of more glory? Everything was so clean and fresh after the snow. It’s a reminder of the purity of heart that God has placed upon you. Christ won that purity of heart for you and me on the cross. He won rightness with God by giving His life for you. Then, through faith He covered over your dirt of sin just like the snow covered the grey of winter. Now you could reflect His light to the world in clarity with purpose. Now you can let your light, really His light, shine. Too bad our individual “beacons of hope” were almost snuffed out by knee-jerk reactions to the weather. Nevertheless, God is gracious and His light has returned! So, why not “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven!”?


I had to laugh when the Governor decreed that “non-essential personnel” didn’t need to go into work on Wednesday. We have some state workers in our midst. Isn’t it “nice” to know that you’re non-essential? Isn’t it just a huge boost to your ego to know that you’re “least in the kingdom of state”? But, it really doesn’t matter, does it? For in God’s kingdom, you still count, a lot! Maybe you didn’t observe all the emergency parking regulations to the letter this week. Maybe you didn’t adhere to the fine print on the speed laws. Maybe, like me, you never got the 911 reverse call to say: trash pick-up is a day later” put your bins out early and had to cope accordingly. Snowstorms make everything we do rather imperfect, don’t they? They are God’s reminder that He’s in ultimate control and all our plotting, good intentions, and hard work shrink to nothingness when He exerts His power. Snowstorms make you feel rather small.—Much like God’s Law, the commandments, and the perfection He expects from you and me.

But, when the storm ends the sunshine comes out. The ice melts. The birds flit and twitter. Equilibrium is restored. So it is with the Son of Righteousness. Sunday after Sunday He comes to you with healing in His wings. He arose from the darkness of your “woe-is-me” to life! He made us right with God by His forgiving love. He reminds us that “He’ll never leave nor forsake us.” Yes, even today He’s renewing your salt content, your light content, and the increasing the BTU’s and lumens of your soul.

It was an interesting week for the family of God at Pinewood. It reminded all of us that we’re a city of light on our little hill. So now go and show all others this next week just who you really are and what has made you into portable beacons of God’s hope and joy! All you have to lose is your grumpiness. Amen