Summary: Sermon for the Proper 21, Year B 2012
Mark 9: 38 – 50 / Salt Anyone?
Intro: Mage has been a part of a juicy, slanderous gossip group. But, lately, she has been having 2nd thoughts. She approached her pastor asking if there was anything she could do to make amends. The Pastor took a basket of goose feathers and Mage to the top of the bell tower. When they reached the top, the pastor poured the feathers into the wind. They scattered in every direction. He said to Mage, “Now go out and gather up all the feathers and bring them back to me and I will tell you what you can do to make amends. Many hours passed. Mage returned to the pastor with only a few feathers in her basket. “I see what you mean, Pastor, I cannot undo what I have done.” The pastor responded, “No, but from now on you can do good deeds and say good things. That will not undo what you have done; but, it will help counteract the effect.”
I. VSS. 38 – 41 The key to understanding these verses is in a phrase to be found in both VSS 38 and 41 “In (Jesus’) name or in the name of Christ. What is significant about the name of Christ Jesus?
A. Some theologians argue that to act in the name of Christ Jesus is simply to act in a manner consistent with his character. WWJD
B. Others insist that it means to act on behalf of Christ Jesus, ie. when the VP is sent to a function to represent the Pres.
C. While still others insist that the name itself is powerful, conveying the grace it signifies in a sacramental manner. Like powerful magical formula. OPENSESSAME!
II. VSS. 42- 48 “Putting a stumbling block before one of these little ones. We all know people who like to “stir the pot” so to speak. They love controversy and love to argue.
A. Sometimes being argumentative or negative is obnoxious and out of line. Just being that way for no other purpose than to stir up controversy.
B. But, sometimes a seemingly radical statement can serve to open people’s minds to think outside the box or at least get them to defend their position.
C. There is a huge difference between causing people to stumble with our words and actions and adding some salt to a bland conversation causing people to think about how their life, actions or lack of action affect others.
III. The word translated as stumbling block is the GK word SKANDALIZEIN. The English cognate “scandalize” isn’t strong enough b/c nothing seems to scandalize us anymore. The sense of the GK verb is of being so horrified that one simply cannot remain in the place or go forward along the path where one had that experience. The word refers to actions or words that would divert someone from their faith or discipleship or lead them to sin.
A. Think for a moment about 2 white, grainy substances: salt and sugar.
B. Sugar is used to flavor things that we eat or drink. Sugar is used to sweeten or mask the flavors that are bitter, sour, or even hard to swallow. Often this is the way we approach our faith. We want it sweet and sugar-coated so it will be easier for us to swallow. (A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.)
C. Salt, on the other hand, has as its purpose to bring out the flavors of the food, not masking them as much as preserving them or emphasizing that which is good. This is the kind of faith we should have; a faith that enables us “to taste and see that the Lord is good.” I believe this is what Jesus meant when he said the following in verse 50.
Conclu: VS. 50 “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be a peace with one another.” From all that Jesus said as he journeyed the way to Jerusalem with his disciples, it becomes clear that their saltiness and ours involves being humble in relationships with each other, giving of self for others, reaching out and accepting all the people.
Like Mage, we cannot change the past; but, we can influence the present and the future by adding a touch of salt to life to bring out the delicious flavor or living in the way of Christ Jesus helping others to taste and see that the Lord is good.