Matthew 4:1-11

The Temptation of Jesus

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

What do you think of when you hear the word “temptation?”

What do you think are some temptations that our culture struggles with?

What are some of the temptations of the church?

What about us personally?

I know that we all struggle with some temptations.  There are certainly temptations such as eating too much chocolate or going into excess on something.  But, what’s the root of temptation?

Our gospel passage this morning presents us with three temptations that Jesus faced.  

  1. Turning stones to bread
  2. Protection from being thrown off the temple roof
  3. Being given the world

Now, on the surface, there are some appealing things to these temptations I’d imagine for Jesus.  Honestly, they all sound good to me!  There are lots of stones in the world, and lots of starving people.  Wouldn’t it be great to solve the world’s hunger issues by turning stone into bread?  And, with Jesus, you know it would be good bread!

Being able to be protected physically from falling off the temple roof!  Well, we all want to be safe don’t we?  Wouldn’t we like to know that if we jumped off the roof of this building that we’d land safely?  That a bunch of angels would come to our rescue if we are being physically threatened?

How about being given dominion over the world?  Wouldn’t that be great!   We could make everything great and good!  People seem to like to remind us that this world is a mess, that no one is in control.  Well, we are good people, if we had control, then we could make the world safe, we could put our vision into play and make the world a better place…because we know better. 

I shared this a while ago, but I thought it would be appropriate to share again…noted author, speaker, theologian and philosopher, Henri Nouwen talks about the temptations of Jesus in his book on Christian Leadership, In the Name of Jesus.  He says that Jesus, like all leaders are tempted in three ways and that we can practice certain disciplines that will help us move towards a better sense of wholeness and health:

  1. The first temptation of turning stones to bread is the temptation to be relevant.  We want to do something that is related to our experiences or others.  Yet, that’s a trap, it’s like me winning the lottery so I can fund the world’s great projects…you can spend so much time on that, that you lose sight of yourself.  Yet, Jesus wants us to know that we are loved and that we can return that love…as we grow in our understanding of God’s love for us, we don’t have to be relevant, yet, we can become confident.  Nouwen goes on to say that the key work or practice for us to move towards a deeper sense of awareness and confidence, is contemplative prayer.  Spending time listening to God’s love for us.  
  1. The second temptation of jumping of the roof only to be caught is the temptation to be spectacular.  Can we impress others with something.  Yet, God calls us to practice the simple work of serving others, of being with people, listening to their stories, encouraging one another, and living authentically.  Our discipline that leads us away from the temptation of wanting to do something spectacular is to be able to confess to others and ask forgiveness.  That’s hard to do, to yield to others, yet that gives us the humility to grow and to mature.
  1. The third temptation of being given the world is the desire to be powerful, to get others to do what we tell them!  To get at others before they get you…really, to have others bow before your wishes, to get your way.  Yet, Jesus tells us that, in order to lead, one has to follow.  And you have to trust others to take you where you may not want to go.  We aren’t given the world, but we are given each other.  Our discipline or practice is to think about God’s actions, God’s word to us, to look at Jesus, to have theological reflection.  That allows us to look at our motives and to be shaped inwardly which moves towards outward actions. 

Temptations lure us in to something innocently enough and with seemingly good intentions.  This season of Lent is meant to be a time of recognizing and resisting temptations, and to take on practices or disciplines to help us to have perspective and grow.  The idea is to befriend temptations, know they are there and recognize them when they come around…and when temptations come around, find ways to go deeper, to lean into them, and to use those times as a reminder that God is with you and calling you towards deeper places in life.  I believe we all recognize that when we give into temptations, they become habits of thinking or acting, then they reform us in destructive ways or can reinforce bad habits.  

Author and speaker, Dr. Brene Brown, in her book Rising Strong, says that our brains get stuck in particular patterns that are hard to break.  The only way to move out of those patterns is by creating a new practice, a healthier practice.   Oftentimes those new practices require courage.  It’s easy to give into the temptations around us, but moving towards a new practice can lead to our thinking patterns being changed and a new way of being as we move towards a deeper understanding of those temptations.

The early church understood this.  They didn’t have a lot of the dogma that we have today.  For a few hundred years before Christianity became sanctioned by the Roman government, practice was more important than doctrine.  Folks knew that they needed community and that they wanted meaning in life and a new way of being.  Christians practiced welcome, grace, hospitality, a sense of equality was practiced between ethnicities and gender, all were one, and there was deep commitment.  When someone joined the church, it was a huge commitment; it could cost you your life.  Yet, the rule of love was so compelling that folks were drawn in…the early church folks didn’t ask new members of the faith a lot of questions about belief, but they took time to be in the practice of loving one another.  It created new patterns of being and doing.  

They also understood that God was committed to them and that Jesus’ actions on their behalf gave them the grace to start over, daily.  They had an understanding of God’s relational nature, which gave birth to the concept of God as trinity, and that Jesus entered into this world, and became sin for us, for all of humanity.  Know that Jesus’ response to temptation is our response, we may fail and lose often, often, but ultimately, we win because of Jesus’ work for us and in us….actually, it’s deeper than just winning, it’s growing and maturing…and as we practice loving in the way of Jesus, we begin to fall deeper in love with God, even as our overwhelmed with God’s love for and of us.


Old Testament Readings

Psalm 2:6-12 

I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling 12 kiss his feet, or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all who take refuge in him. 

New Testament Reading  

Matthew 17:1-9 

The Transfiguration 

17 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, Iwill make three dwellings where, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved;with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

What is the definition of “transfigure”? I found this last week: 



transform into something more beautiful or elevated. “the world is made luminous and is transfigured” 

syn- transform, transmute, change, alter, metamorphose; 

“the glow of the sunrise transfigured the whole landscape” 

It’s interesting to note that the transfiguration in today’s passage happened on a mountain top…I guess that’s where we get the phrase “mountain top experience”. 

I can point to many “literal” mountain top experiences…I love to climb mountains! Some of those experiences can even be described as “transfiguring”…they are also often described as “thin places”.  While writing a grant request recently, along with several folks in our congregation contributing, Bob Nottingham found this definition of “thin places”:

“Thin places”, a Celtic Christian term for “those rare locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses” – Eric Weiner .  

“Thin places” can be found in every place, yet there are some where thousands have gone for centuries for rest, renewal, and as markers of new growth.

The transfiguration story in our gospel lesson takes up 6 days after a series of events where Jesus is going around sharing the good news of God’s Presence, a message that was about bringing about much anticipated change.  They come to a thin place on a mountain top.  

At one point in previous stories, Jesus is asking what others were saying about him. Some said that he was Elijah, John the Baptist. Peter said that He was the Messiah though…he had also healed some folks, one story right before this was a healing from blindness. He’s also beginning to share some hard things about his own suffering that was soon to come, that he would experience deep pain, and that he would die and rise again. Crowds were following him, I’m sure it was hard for them to understand, and even harder for Jesus to convey this message. 

Then we come to today’s passage where Jesus is getting away from the crowds, as he of- ten did. He went up to a mountain with three of his friends. These were good guys I’m sure, but not always on top of things, and they had some serious issues. Peter was anxi- ety ridden and prone to making big statements, only to not be able to back them up. He denied even knowing Jesus during his darkest hour a short time later. James and John were concerned with greatness and arguing about who would sit where in eternity. They seemed to be way more concerned by another life other than the one they were living. They seemed consumed with theological discussions and fantasies on power rather than helping those around them. Jesus had a few words for the how the disciples were to be servants at their expense a while later as well. Yet, through it all, through their anxieties, image issues, and failures, Jesus counted them as friends and believed in them. He invit- ed them into events and life experiences with him that were transformative and meaning- ful. 

This event, this mountain top “thin place” experience had a profound impact on the Peter, James, and John. They saw before them Jesus, their friend, changed, transfigured, beautiful. How did they react? Well, they were overwhelmed, but they were glad to be there, they knew they wanted to be there. Peter was so caught up in the moment, that he wanted to create three dwellings or set up tents for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. Somehow he wanted to contain that moment. He was terrified, as they all were. They didn’t know where to go or what to do, yet, they knew that things had changed. 

Then, the clouds came. Maybe that’s to say that things aren’t always clear. Yet, God says, this is my son, part of me, I love him, LISTEN to him. 

Then, they left the mountain. But, notice that Jesus is with them. He’s not distant. Jesus told them not to tell anyone, they don’t have to validate themselves, just wait, there’s more to the story. Jesus would die, but he’d rise again. 

I think that this story has a lot to say about us as persons and as a church. We are being changed, all of us. We experience change throughout our lives. It’s inevitable. Some- times that change can be terrifying. It can be confusing and also exciting. We know we want change and need it. When it comes, we’re not sure how to respond or the way for us may not be clear. But God says that we are not alone, that he’s with us, going through change with us, and to listen to his son. This Jesus is also rising up within us. He is alive and is working in and through us, calling us to have confidence in ourselves as his friends. We are invited to see thin places all around us, and even in us…sometimes to go to other places, yes, but to cultivate an understanding that we live in a liminal, thin space all of the time…and transfiguration is a constant flow in our lives.  

That Son lives in us and his Spirit is moving all around us. I sense that in this church and community. And, we have to pray for eyes and ears to see and hear God’s flow, God’s Spirit, God’s presence…and that takes patience. I know we all want to see certain kinds of change that we think we want. For me, I often feel like I want to see change happen yesterday, I can be impatient, yet God has been whispering into my ear a lot lately to not follow the example of Martha and work excessively for things that are fleeting, but to be like Mary and sit and Jesus’ feet and hear words of love, invitation to deeper life, and re- lationship….words that are so encouraging…words that lead to my hearing God say that I’m beloved…and words that ultimately lead to a personal and corporate transfiguration. 

Friends, I believe that Fleming Road is going through a transfiguration. We are being changed into something beautiful. We are inviting in conversation partners to help us see through the clouds of what that change will bring, we are practicing listening skills to each other, our community, and the word of God. I know I’m listening. 

I want to see this church filled with people of all sorts of ages, color, economic back- grounds, thoughts, beliefs. Folks all being called to live life together in the way of Jesus and folks seeking out a Jesus who is pursuing them. I hope to see all of us living into Je- sus, a Jesus who was changed before the eyes of his disciples where they could see him in even deeper ways. It will take time, hard work, and some suffering, but it will also be dazzling, encouraging, and wonderful. We will be changed, and we will be glad to be on the mountaintop as that change happens. We won’t change overnight more than likely, and we will grow over time together. It is good to be with you as we go to the mountain- top together and hear God’s voice telling us, I love you, I’m with you, I am present. 


Old Testament Readings

Psalm 119:1-8

The Glories of God’s Law

Happy are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts
    to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast
    in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
    when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I will observe your statutes;
    do not utterly forsake me.

New Testament Reading

Matthew 5:21-37

Concerning Anger

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[ a brother or sister,you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Concerning Adultery

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell (Gehenna). 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell (Gehenna).

Concerning Divorce

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Concerning Oaths

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

The past couple of weeks we’ve been talking about the ethos, or the characteristics that we may have that lead us towards blessing.  This morning, our gospel and psalm text continues that theme of blessing, or even happiness in some passages.

When we read the gospel passage, we may think, “wow, this is hard, how can anyone not sin?”.  The point is that Jesus is using rabbinic tradition to drive home a point.  “You’ve heard it said long ago…”  In other words, this is what you’ve always been told, but let’s get to the heart of the issue.  You can make technical changes, try not to do outward actions that are wrong or wicked, but where’s your heart?

Jesus is telling us that the principles or ethos of being an active participant in the Kingdom of God is more about who we are at our core.  There are some strong statements, it’s not just an act of going to your friends or enemies and asking them for forgiveness before the sun goes down, but it’s an action of vulnerability that is necessary for your growth as a human being.  If you don’t, you become bitter, you build up walls within yourself.  You separate yourself from the blessing of potential relationship.  

Plus, it’s more than just the action.  It’s a statement about being.  How many times has someone come to you to “clear the air”, but inevitably as they “confront” you or ask for forgiveness, it seems to be more about a sense of them not giving up control, not being vulnerable, but trying to prove a point or somehow save face?  Jesus says that when our hearts towards out brothers and sister are not right, or we put them down, or hold something against them, then that will tear at us.  Thinking ourselves as superior to others leads us towards a kind of death.  As I understand scripture, those kinds of actions can lead us to a hellish existence…yet, we have opportunity to look deep within and to allow God’s love to dig deeper in our lives bringing growth, change, and maturity.

Essentially, this whole passage about treating your brother and sister in a wrong way, adultery, murder, divorce, or swearing or really symptoms of how we’ve lived fragmented lives.  Jesus is calling us towards living a better way, that we have grace to move to some better places of “being”.  This. “being” is meant to be our whole selves…whatever we have done or not done, is not as important as who we are becoming.  Who we are is deeper than life circumstances.  Are we willing to listen and see God’s grace deep within our lives and in the lives of those around us?

In scripture, the motif of having ears to hear and eyes to see are actions that God does for us.  In Psalm 40:6, it says that God has opened up our ears.  In Hebrew, the translation is literally “digging out our ear”.  God digs deep within us, into our very core being to speak to us God’s love.  In that passage, it says that God does not desire sacrifice or offerings, we cannot earn God’s love, but there is still work on our part…we have to have our ears dug out…and that can be painful.  We have to risk being vulnerable, letting go of the way we’ve done things or found our being, we have to go to others and ask for their forgiveness, yield to one another, and pray for ears to be dug deep within our souls.

When I was at the Abbey a few years ago, I had this phrase of “digging deeper” running through my head and heart.  Really, it’s been in my thinking for quite a while.  There is so much anxiety around me and in me at times.  Things in my family, some things here at church, personal events the past few years, and then the anxiety in the world and our country.  Even though I often don’t show anxiety outwardly, it can affect me internally and take away some of the blessing.  Having said that, anxiety can also be used as a gift for all of us to “dig deeper” and to have God dig out our ears to hear words of encouragement.

Encouraging words such as “you are loved”, “you are not alone, I am with you”, “you are in the midst of amazing growth”, “love your friends…and your enemies”, “stand, sit, walk in the flow of love that moves into the deeper parts of who you are and those around you”.  As we dig deeper into God’s belief in us, we find that the anxiety is turned into resolve and growth

Pslam 42 says that “deep calls into deep”, the depth of God calling into the depths of who we are and vice versa.  God calls us into deeper consciousness and awareness of God’s relational flow…God is digging deeper into us.  God demonstrates to us that God’s creative imagination gave us life, that our identity is not what others may say, but our identity is wrapped up in the Christ who has identified with us in humanity in Jesus.  The flow of God’s love and presence through God’s Spirit binds us to Jesus and to each other…gives us awareness of the blessing and happiness of walking with God as it says in our Psalm 119 passage this morning…and to live deeper lives of honoring and loving…we can’t do that on our own, we need each other…and, even deeper, we need to cultivate an understanding and awareness of Jesus’ carrying us and forgiving us and simply loving us towards being the people we’ve always wanted to be.  


Matthew 5:13-20

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

The Law and the Prophets

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaksone of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

So, what’s the purpose of salt?  Anyone?  It’s a preservative when you put it on something…it keeps things like meat from rotting away.  The ancients used it because they didn’t have refrigeration and it kept their meat from spoiling.  It also gives off flavor.  

I grew up on country ham in KY.  I still love it.  So, I was excited when I was in the UK a couple of years ago, I found a sandwich that changed my life.  A simple “toastie” which is British farm bread toasted, splattered with melted butter and what the Brits call “bacon”, which is really just country ham.  The saltiness of the butter and ham is fantastic.  It’s simple, but rich with flavor.  

Now, salt on it’s own, not on anything is simply a mineral…doesn’t do anything.  But, when applied to meat or something else, it preserves it and gives it flavor.  Here’s the kicker though, eventually, if that salty food isn’t consumed or used for something good…it can eventually lose it’s saltiness.  And, salt without flavor or no longer useful as a preservative, it’s no good…throw it out.  

Our passage this morning comes on the heals of the sermon on the mount.  If you remember last week’s message, we talked about the beatitudes meaning blessing and that if you had an ethos, or a characteristic, that points towards inclusive and welcoming love of self, others, and God…then you are blessed.  That inclusive and welcoming love flows from the dynamic of God’s being into us, and through us.  The characteristics or ethos are like the flavors that we give off as we are transformed, converted, changed through our awareness and relationship with God.  

Now, God doesn’t give up on us, God doesn’t discard us…that’s not God’s character.  God’s characteristic or ethos is intense fidelity, commitment, loyalty and faith to us.  But, God does want us to be the salt of the earth, and if we aren’t willing to be salt, then God will simply work in other ways.  For us to be salt, we have to be willing to practice love and giving ourselves away in order to be the salt that the world hopes for the church, or the body of Christ, to be…and needs it to be.

We have to apply the salt, the spice of God deep into our lives, into the recesses and pores of very being.  That requires first a recognition that we cannot live this life on our own, we need God and we need community with one another.  We cannot pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and make changes…we have to recognize our need for conversion and that we can’t foster conversation or change on our own.

A few weeks ago, while on retreat at the Abby of Gethsemani, I spent time reading some more from a Franciscan priest, and from a Celtic scholar that I’ve enjoyed getting to know, and from Carl Jung, the great philosopher.  Reading about our small ego not being able towards growth.  But, so often we try to solve our ego problems with our ego.  It’s the old adage about doing the same thing and getting the same results.  We get stuck in our practices and addictions.  

How do we move towards being salt in the world, experiencing conversion and growth and live abundantly in a world that seems to focus more on fear and scarcity?  By letting go of our ego.  Who we are, our true selves as the monk Thomas Merton, who’s monastery was the Abbey of Gethsemani, would say, is not our small “e” ego, but a deeply aware person who is committed to letting go and unlearning the practices that have led us towards a static way of life, and by taking on the salt that God gives us through interdependence on each other, and letting God’s flow expose the deepest parts of who we are into the light of God’s love.

Jesus reminds us also in this passage that God’s light is shining in and through us, let it flow through us and be a light into the world!!!  Don’t hide it, let light do it’s thing, expose the darkness.

Being a light, means having the light enter into our lives, exposing what we need to work on out in the open.  Being vulnerable is hard…letting go isn’t easy, but it’s a crucial step towards growth.  We have to be willing to be accountable to one another through vulnerable and authentic relationships built on grace and mutual growth.  Accountability in the way of Christ doesn’t mean punishing someone, it means being able to live into grace filled lives filled with mutual encouragement towards living abundantly as God intended.

In a small way, I’ve seen so many have an honest approach at trying do this in the church.  Personally, over the years, I know that I’ve had to let go of many of the ways that I have done “church” and practiced ministry.  I’ve had to let go of my vision of the church, and I think many of you are as well.  In that space, we become a bit vulnerable and trust and relationship become the fruit of that work of letting go.  This is an important part of our journey together, in letting go and listening intently, we can hear God’s unique vision for this church.

When we begin that process of letting go…and starting out is the hardest part, we begin to see God’s expansive love work it’s way into our lives, like salt into meat.  It preserves us and it gives us a good taste in lives.  We begin to practice being salt by loving each other…as well as our neighbors.  We find ourselves being peacemakers, practicing justice, standing up for those on the margins, being merciful and graceful, as we live into the commitment and bonds of friendship within community and with God. 

Jesus goes on to say in this morning’s scripture that he didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  Jesus didn’t have a problem with rules or laws or church polity, but Jesus also said that being so focused on those rules than the bigger picture of God’s love, can lead us being more about the process than the relationship, and we lose our saltiness, we put our light under a bushel.  Those rules, the commandments, were given to us to show us how to be in relationship, and to remind us that we fall short and need grace to truly live life as it was meant to be lived.

Jesus fulfills the law by being the embodiment of the law as a person…the characteristics/ethos of the law in right relationship is Jesus.  And our relationship with Jesus, which brings out our true selves, means that we are also called to apply Jesus righteousness, which we possess, in our relationships with others…which leads to being light in a dark world, speaking up for the oppressed, the marginalized, the refugee…for justice and mercy or any opposing principles or ethos of this world which are often based on small ego.

More than just following Christ, we are able to live in Christ, which means moving towards a higher level of consciousness, of awareness….going beyond a literal observance of laws and rituals to a radical openness to relationship with God and others that is very much fluid and  requires faithfulness, trust, and even risk and marked by radical love and becoming salt that permeates into the lives others, preserving life, and giving it some spice!  So, friends, let’s keep on being salt and light!!!