Salt and Light

February 5, 2017 – Epiphany 5

Readings: Isaiah 58:1-9a; 1 Corinthians 2:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20

Salt and Light

Last Sunday evening, a very angry, disturbed, and misguided young man walked into a Mosque in Ste Foy and began shooting people at prayer.  This was a wake-up call for all Canadians.

On Monday afternoon, Mary [Royal-Duczek] invited all the churches to join her at Almonte United for an evening candle light vigil.  Mary wasn’t quite sure what to do but she knew she needed to do something.

And so we gathered, lit candles, held both the Bible and the Quran, prayed for the victims and their families, the shooter and his family, wrote notes to send to the Ste Foy Mosque, prayed for all Canadian Muslims, for this country and the world – and we sang songs for peace.  At the end, Mary said, ‘it may seem like we haven’t done much. But we have done something.  We’ve lit candles of peace and offered up words of healing in the growing darkness and rhetoric of hate and violence.”

As the week unfolded, it was deeply disturbing to see an American network exploit Canadian pain by posting a false and misleading Tweet about the massacre to further their own agenda. It took our government to publicly call them on it for them to take it down.

Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of the cracks that emerged in the thin crust of civility during Brexit. The poison leaked through the cracks in the U.K. and then in U.S. and now its trying to open cracks to seep out in Canada.

Its not that anti-Muslim, racist, homophobic, misogynistic sentiments don’t exist here. They do. What’s different is that they are now being fed and encouraged from the east and from the south. Angry, disturbed and misguided people look for someone – anyone to blame for all their problems and – in the right climate – that can quickly turn to hate and violence.

Jesus tells his followers that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Not that we will be at some future time – but that we are salt and light – right here, right now. That’s how Mary knew she had to do something in response to the darkness of hate and violence. Used in the right balance, salt can bring healing and enhance flavour. Thrown underfoot, it even helps us stay upright on slippery sidewalks.  And, at the right level of brightness, light helps us see and find our way in the dark. Metaphorically speaking, light also brings hope and enlightenment. Set featured image

Now some of you may think there is nothing significant that we can do in Almonte. But that’s not true. As one journalist wrote, terrorists don’t come out of nowhere.  These days, angry people often troll the internet, looking for reasons to hate and justification for violence. That’s one way they get radicalized.

We can refuse to feed that sickness.  Jokes are not funny if they are at the expense of someone else, especially folks who are already vulnerable.  So, we can choose not to pass on jokes, cartoons and derogatory emails that only serve to fan the flames of ignorance and vitriolic hatred.  We can choose to call people on false and misleading comments – as our government did – whether on Facebook, Twitter or wherever.  We can hold folks accountable for the words that come out of their mouth.  We can let people know when their behaviour is unacceptable. We can refuse to listen to the shock jocks who spew propaganda in order to be popular – no matter what the cost.

We can inform ourselves about other religions and cultures. We can examine our own biases and try

harder to practice the great love commandment.  We can encourage our various forms of government to use some of our resources to help angry, disturbed and misguided people find constructive ways to channel their frustration and find healing.  We can pray and work for peace and justice, beginning with our own families.

We don’t need to panic in light of last Sunday.  That helps no one. At the same time, to do nothing is let our saltiness be diluted to blandness and our lights go out.  This is not the time for complacency.  It’s time to wake up, speak up and shed a little light in the darkness.

So, this morning we are going to light the candle that I brought home from Monday night’s gathering at Almonte United as a reminder that we are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

May we never loose our saltiness or let our light grow dim.

Let us lift up the people of the Mosque at Ste Foy, especially the grieving families, the angry young man and his family and pray for our country and our world.

O God of many names, lover of all nations, we pray for peace, in our hearts, in our homes, in our nations, in our world. For the peace you willed, we pray.  Amen.

Pat Martin +