The world needs you.
Jesus says so.
On Sunday morning we continued in our winter sermon series All In: Life Will Never Be the Same as we looked at what it means for us to truly invite Jesus into our congregation. (You can listen to the message here). As Jesus talks about the church and its role in the world, he uses two images; salt and light.
In this context, the metaphors of salt and light have similar functions. In the ancient near eastern world, there were no freezers so the only way to prevent the immediate decay of meat was to salt it like crazy. In the ancient near eastern world there was obviously no electricity, so there were frequent times in a household of utter darkness. Not just kind of dark, as the street lights shine through the windows, but total disorienting, confusing, paralyzing darkness.
The two images here describe the world: if left to its own energies, the world is a place of darkness and decay. The world, if left to itself, is falling apart, not progressing forward. The world, without the presence of salt and light is modern-day Syria, it is Auschwitz, it is the Las Vegas Strip at 2am, it is Darwinian and predatory.
Jesus describes those who associate themselves with him by faith, that is the church, as people who become the forces of salt and light that enter the world. You are the church. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, if you have placed your faith in him and welcomed him into your life, you are the church. And Jesus describes the church as many things, but importantly, Jesus describes the church as useful. Useful to God in the work that God desires to do in us, and useful to the world.
The church is not a maintenance organization that exists to serve itself and become internally strong, the church exists as a movement of people who are being changed by Jesus and changing the world for Jesus.
During the season of Lent, which is the 6-week period that precedes Easter Sunday, we are going to lean into this truth together as we invite Jesus into our lives and our congregation through an experience of shared prayer. We are calling this a “Congregational ExperiLent” and you will hear more about it next week as well.
Here is the concept in 3 easy steps:
- Find a partner.
- Pray in person or by phone/video conference 2-3x/ week.
- Pray for the church, pray for each other, and pray for the world.
Let me acknowledge that this is a big ask. For some of you this feels way bigger than last year’s invitation to read the Bible every day with the One Year Bible because it feels scary to pray out loud with someone else. Even if the last prayer you ever prayed out loud with another person was “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” I want to encourage you to participate in this.
It truly is an experiment in prayer. Your prayer times do not have to be long. They can be 5 minutes of prayer with a partner. We will have lots of resources to help you, including suggested prayers for each time you meet. I promise you, you can do this.
This week, all you need to do is be thinking about a person whom you might like to ask to be a prayer partner with you between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
I am excited to be praying alongside you all this Lenten season that Jesus would make us salt and light to this world,