I read the following in Encounter with God, reflecting on Matthew 5.13-16. The writer said:
Jesus does not envisage his community as a withdrawn, sectarian group, making occasional attempts to preach to outsiders and expecting them to come to Christian gatherings to be converted. Salt must have contact with whatever it is intended to preserve, or it loses its purpose; light only fulfils its function when it exists in the darkness. How many models of the church and its mission in the world are challenged by these simple but powerful illustrations?
These words really resonated with me and I began to reflect on how we might apply them, and, perhaps especially, how we apply them in our current context. All too often, Christian churches behave like ‘closed shops’ with arcane rules and strange rituals which deter those on the outside. My own denomination, the Anglican church, is particularly good at playing dress-up, at using strange words and even stranger actions. What other organisation speaks in the language of 1662?
The present lockdown is both a challenge and an opportunity. For many, the challenge has been simply to continue some form of corporate worship. Not all are comfortable with technology! Despite this it’s been heartening to see just how many unexpected people turn up for zoom services. I know that when Canon Gill Withers was putting a weekly service on Facebook there were many more hits than were accounted for by the congregation.
How do we become salt and light in a lockdown? What can we offer to our neighbours? Surely this is the time to set aside all sectarian issues for the sake of the gospel and for the greater good. Jesus said to his disciples:
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
Is this what the world sees today? AS we seek to become salt and light to our communities, let us first look to our own attitudes and set aside all our cherished prejudices for the sake of the gospel.