September 26, 2021: Pentecost 19

Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank You for moving us to come to church today.  Thank You for giving us soul and life sustaining food in Your Word of truth.  Continue our purification process throughout the coming week.  For then our souls will rest secure in Your tender embrace.  Amen


TEXT:  Mark 9: 50: “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with each other.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          One of our shut-ins, Dick Olson, went back to the old country many years ago to viait.  He was very grateful to come back to America and eat some green vegetables.  He talked about the mono-chromatic food in Norway—everything was either white, gray, or black!  Even the spices were—black pepper or white salt!

          Doctors tell us that too much salt in our modern diets isn’t good.  It leads to excess strain on the heart and arteries, high blood pressure and strokes.  Yet too little salt is also a problem as salt helps regulate our metabolism.  I’ll never forget when I was 19 and worked nights in a pea-packing plant.  Around 6 each morning we then donned rubber suits with asbestos gloves and used live steam hoses to clean all the equipment.  They had salt tablets on the wall in a dispenser to take as you would sweat like a pig and leaching salt from your body could cause you to pass out. Not a good thing when handling live steam hoses….

          Salt is the oldest preservative known to man.  It  helps preserve meat, fish, and vegetables.  Up until around 150 years ago it was precious.  Even today in the Sahara people mine salt and it used to be worth its weight in gold.  Without salt, you die.

          In the verse directly preceding our text Christ ends the discussion of human submission of ego to God’s will by adding: “Everyone will be salted with fire.”  That’s a reference to the refiner’s fire from Malachi.  God uses His perfect Law to judge and refine us—helping get rid of ego-driven pride—and distilling our lives down to the essence of vitality—humble faith in Christ’s goodness instead of our own.  By blending these two types  of preservatives—fire and salt—Jesus seeks to purify us.  And that brings us to the virtues of invisible sodium chloride.


          A few years ago Pinewood was known as the “Church of the chemists!”  I think we had 6 on our active membership.  If Christ said to them: “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?” Such folk could give a concise answer! Can you?

          Sodium chloride has many virtues.  It’s used as a preserver of life.  In hot climes it’s necessary for survival.  So, too, with food.  But it’s a purifying agent as well.  Many bacteria die when dosed with salt.   Additionally, it’s a cleanser.  I use it to rub out grease in a cast iron bacon pan.  And living in NE we all know about road salt.


          Jesus, however, is talking about invisible salt.   He’s talking about His Word of divine truth.  It possesses certain virtues, too.

          In today’s OT lesson, we hear how leaders among Israel were jealous of other’s who prophesied in God’s name.  Moses replies: “Are you jealous for my sake?  I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”  Then in  our lesson we hear something similar.  The disciples are jealous that someone apart from them did miracles—cast out demons—in Christ’s name.  His reply mirrors Moses’: “Do not stop him…for whoever is not against us is for us.”  And finally, in today’s epistle we’re told of the need to purify our own  hearts via repentance, to humble ourselves before the Lord, and to not be jealous of another’s Godly gifts. 

          The point of all this is the same: “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with each other.”  So, purify, cleanse, and preserve your lives with the salt of Divine truth.  Take the commandments seriously.  Likewise the reality of original sin and how corrupting it is in your lives.  We were born unsalty.  We cannot create salt by ourselves.  But God, the Ultimate Creator, can!  Even more, He has and does in Jesus.  How does He do this?  Via forgiveness.  Complete, total, free forgiveness—free to us, but costly to Him.  That’s the whole point of His dying on a cross to give us life.   Don’t be jealous of His forgiveness, be thankful.  Don’t be jealous that others possess it—honor Jesus’ gracious spirit.  Be grateful that He is big enough and loving enough to give His salt of love  to more than just you….Eat this truth and be satisfied.  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

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