A Salty Musing 11-10-2021
“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” NRSV
“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.” The Message
I often wondered after reading or hearing this verse from scripture, which follows The Beatitudes, what it takes for salt to lose its flavor. Or does salt have some sort of a magical expiration date when poof it is suddenly just bright white sand? I mean even though we have some stuff on our shelves and in our spice bin that are old, none of them has ever lost their flavor—including salt. Of course, in spite of the warnings to cut back on salt, the jar of salt never lasts very long…especially compared to things like dill weed or paprika.
Fortunately, there is Google to answer such questions.
Here is what I discovered. According to www.realsalt.com –yes, it is a real website—the answer to the question “Can Salt Go Bad?” is a definitive no and yes.
Here is what I found out –
“Natural salt without additives won’t ever go bad. Why? For food to spoil, fungal, bacterial, yeast or other microbial growth has to take place. All of these require water. Salt doesn’t contain water, so it doesn’t support microbial growth, meaning it won’t spoil. Remember, salt is a preservative and it’s been part of the oceans’ waters or sitting in rocks for millions of years prior to being harvested, so another year or two in your pantry really isn’t going to be detrimental.
But what about the “yes” portion of the answer? If you’ll notice, we said above that natural salt without additives won’t go bad. Refined table salt–the pure white stuff you probably grew up using–will go bad. It’s not because of the salt, though. It’s because of the additives. Iodine and anti-caking agents degrade over time, reducing the shelf life of the salt to about five years.”
So, in the time of Jesus when salt was almost exclusively of the natural variety, it could lose it taste only when something from the outside entered and corrupts it. Those instructions to be aware of being corrupted is part of the warning in Jesus’s words.
However, that warning was only part of Jesus’s concerns.
Because when it was stored properly, salt could last a long, long time. Of course, that isn’t what salt is used for. It is used to add flavor.
This is why the second part of this passage about “a light not being covered” really does still relate back to the verse about salt.
Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Salt, like light, is meant to be used not stored and hidden.
Friends, we have been given gifts to share with the world. We are called to go out and bring flavor to the world. Paul describes some of these flavors as fruits of the spirit. They include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
In a time when the word scarcity is shared in order to provoke fear and encourage us to keep others at arm’s length, the people of God are called to be different and step out in faith and bring the flavor of God’s grace to a broken and hurting world.
I recently came across the following excerpt from a book by Rev D. James Kennedy entitled Led by the Carpenter.
"A man walked into a little mom-and-pop grocery store and asked do you sell salt?”
"Ha!" said Pop the proprietor. "Do we sell salt! Just look!" He showed the customer one entire wall of shelves stocked with nothing but salt—Morton salt, iodized salt, kosher salt, sea salt, rock salt, garlic seasoning salt, Epsom salts—every kind of salt imaginable.
"Wow!" said the customer.
"You think that's something?" said Pop with a wave of his hand.
"That's nothing! Come look." And Pop led the customer to a backroom filled with shelves and bins and cartons and barrels and boxes of salt. "Do we sell salt!" he said.
"Unbelievable!" said the customer.
"You think that's something?" said Pop. "Come! I'll show you salt!" And Pop led the customer down some steps into a huge basement, five times as large as the previous room, filled wall, floor, to ceiling, with every imaginable form and size and shape of salt—even huge ten-pound salt licks for the cow pasture.
"Incredible!" said the customer. "You really do sell salt!"
"No!" said Pop. "That's just the problem! We never sell salt! But that salt salesman—Hoo-boy! Does he sell salt!"
Friends, salt that stays on the shelf doesn't do any good at all. May we each share our salt and our light to a world that so desperately needs it.
In the name The Trinity, Three in One A holy mystery, a faith-filled certainty. Creator of all, Redeemer of all, And Sustainer all. Thanks be to God. Alleluia AMEN!