Bring forth the kingdom of mercy,These are the words to the chorus of one of my favorite hymns. They call on us to help to build the Community (city, kingdom, reign) of God; a community where mercy, peace, and justice reign. These words are taken from Matthew’s Good News from the section of Jesus’ teaching called the Sermon on the Mount. As we begin a new sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount, I want us to stop and take a moment to hear these words as if for the first time.
Bring forth the kingdom of peace;
Bring forth the kingdom of justice,
Bring forth the City of God!
Marty Haugen, “You Are Salt for the Earth, O People”
Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Creator in Heaven.Think about the images in this passage as translated by Eugene Peterson. You are the seasoning that brings out the God-flavor. When I read this section the first image that pops into my head is my Grandmother’s house at Thanksgiving. I loved my grandmother a lot, but cooking with seasoning was not common. The food would come around to me and I would reach for the salt and pepper hoping to give it some spice. This passage says think about your life as the seasoning. Are you living your life without flavor when you are here to bring out the God-flavor on earth? What would it mean if your life was spent sharing the flavor of God with others so that they can experience a part of God’s community here on earth. And if you don’t share the flavor, how will people know that God has touch and changed your life?
Matthew 5:13-15 from The Message
Or to put it another way, you are to be a light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. Can you imagine what it would be like to walk through this world and bring out God-colors? So that the light or spark of God that is there in everyone is able to be seen for the first time. For the first time, someone, who is in the darkness, is invited into the light of God. They can see that light for you have been generous and opened up your lives and your home to those who haven’t experienced God yet. By being open to others, you give them a chance to be open to God.
First Congregational United Church of Christ what is God calling you to do to build the Community of God? First Congregational UCC how are you going to bring forth the kingdom of mercy, peace, and justice? First Congregational UCC how are you going to share the flavor of God with the world? First Congregational UCC how are you going to bring out the God-colors in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and the world?