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Weekly Update from Pastor Hank – Sept. 17

Dear Church Family and Community,

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”  – Matthew 5:13-14

I love how Jesus is so intentional about first reaching us where we are when it comes to teaching and growing us. This is fundamental for any great teacher. It is always going to be difficult to introduce completely foreign and new ideas and/or subjects. Good teachers are able to help give you a foundation for new learning by building on what you already understand. A teacher’s inability to do this frustrates all involved.

Jesus’ parables are probably the most obvious place we see him using this method. For example, in teaching about the lost sheep, Jesus relied on his audience’s knowledge and understanding of sheep and shepherding. The disciples and his crowds would have known that sheep wander off and that a shepherd would do anything to bring that lost sheep back home. Jesus introduces the new teaching by tapping into their knowledge that when the sheep is found, the shepherd enthusiastically celebrates with friends and neighbors, then he essentially leads them beyond what they already knew…There is even more rejoicing in heaven when one sinner comes home to God our Father.

The Sermon on the Mount is another place where we see Jesus teaching by building on what the audience already knows and understands. This week as we continue our Following the Commands of Christ series, we will be focusing on salt and light, the role it plays in life, and how it relates to how Jesus calls and commands us to live. To prepare for this week’s worship service, please take time to read through Matthew 5:13-16.

As you reflect on these verses, ask and answer the following questions?

What do you know about the significance of salt? What about light?

Why would Jesus call us to be like salt?

Why is Jesus relying on us to be light to our world?

What is one place Jesus is currently commanding you to be salt and light?

I have been challenged for a long while now about what it means to be light in a world that seems so dark on too many days. I am challenged by John’s reminder that we are to live and love like Christ, trust Christ, and find truth in Christ. I am challenged when John tells that Christ can be seen through us and that the darkness is passing as the true light is already shining in and through us, and for our world.

Recently, I have been greatly challenged by the idea of bringing life and working to keep the world from decay – one of the main purposes of salt. Like darkness, it is so very easy to see decay and become paralyzed by it. Nevertheless, like light that shines brightest in darkness, we are to be salt that live and work to move our world from decay to preservation and life. What does it mean to be salt and light today? For Christ? And for our world? I believe this is our work.

This week, I am excited that Hannah Niesley will be leading us in worship. Hannah and her husband Luke have been tracking with us the last few years, and recently began attending our in-person services. Hannah is currently one of our candidates for our Worship and Communication Pastor position. We’re grateful for her love for our church, for her gifts, and to be on this journey of discernment together.

I continue to be humbled by our God’s willingness to partner with us. The work of God’s kingdom is led by the Holy Spirit and modeled by Jesus. Yet God our Father makes room for us to join in. What a blessing. What a calling. What a gift, that we can be salt and light and working to make on earth as it is in heaven a reality today.

God bless you all, and take care.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Hank
(Matthew 5:13-14)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104

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