The theme for this retreat is "You are the Salt of the Earth," and so my Bible study is going to be on Jesus words to his disciples found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. I spent quite a bit of time yesterday reading about salt in the Bible and the properties of salt. Here is part of what I am handing out today:
In the first century salt was essential to survival. It kept things from going bad. It was a preservative, it added taste, cleaned wounds and promoted healing. It was also used extensively in metallurgy, particularly in the refining of gold.
So high was its value, Roman soldiers were often paid a salarium, an allowance of salt as their wage. From the word ‘salarium’ we get the English word salary. So when Jesus said, ‘You are the salt of the earth’ he was referring to something vitally important and essential for everyone.
I will also hand out 3 versions of the scripture as well as questions for reflection. Like: what is salt? How do you lose your "saltiness?" what does it mean to be "salt" in your family, in the workplace, in the world? Questions like that. I like to let them sit with the questions first - to help out those introverts who process slowly and then form groups to discuss. And we will see how it goes.
I got a book at the library this week: 100 Wisdom Stories by Margaret Silf. And I decided that I am going to end with one of them.
Here it is:
The Power of the FlameOnce upon a time, there was a piece of iron that was very strong. One after another, the axe, the saw, the hammer and the flame tried to break it.
"I'll master it" said the axe. Its blows fell heavily on the iron, but every blow made its edge more blunt, until it ceased to strike.
"Leave it to me," said the saw, and it worked backwards and forwards on the iron's surface until its jagged teeth were all worn and broken. Then it fell asie.
"Ah" said the hammer. "I knew you wouldn't succeed. I'll show you the way." But at the first blow, off flew its head and the iron remained as before.
"Shall I try?" asked the small, soft flame.
"Forget it," all rereplied. "What can you do?
But the flame curled around the iron, embraced it and never left it until the iron melted under the flame's irresistible influence.
I read this and thought - Love is the flame. The love of God, expressed in Jesus, and the followers of Jesus. The unconditional, grace filled, humble serving love of God.
What is the salt? The salt is love. And over time it changes, preserves, heals and flavors.
May I be the salt of the earth today.