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Get the Salt Out of the Box to do Some Good, Rev. Zina Jacque Says

Today is the gospel according to salt,” said the Rev. Zina Jacque at the 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, July 3 Ecumenical Service. Her sermon title was “Holy Objects — Salt,” and the Scripture text was Matthew 5:13.

Salt, she said, is of great worth. Wars have been fought over it, Roman soldiers were paid with it, the Latin root for salary is sal. It was worth more than gold in ancient Egypt.

All life needs salt,” Jacque said. “It allows our muscles to contract and relax, makes our heart beat, and without it, nothing in our bodies works right.”

Salt also promotes thirst. After we eat salt, she told the congregation, our bodies draw water from the cells and the cells send a message to the brain: “We need water here to reset the balance.”

Jacque restated these points — salt is necessary, salt is worth something and it promotes thirst.

“You are like salt, you are of value,” Jacque said. “You know who Jesus is, and you are the disciples who carry his message of love, hope and peace.”

No one else has your talents, your experience, she told the congregation.

You are God’s sign and symbol, and only you can fill your place in the earth’s story,” she said.

You are necessary: “The Spirit puts you in the place to do only what you can do.”

She talked about the unknown person who first put a 5-year-old Jared Jacobsen on the bench of the Massey Memorial Organ.

“That person was necessary,” she said, “so that we would have the music and worship we have today.”

She continued: “You are necessary for the whole of God’s plan to come into being, without which the world cannot be what it will be.”

Jacque said there is an orchard planted near her home in Illinois, started as one man’s plan to have fruit for his children.

Now that apple orchard feeds thousands through the community food bank,” she said.

No matter how small the step you take at first, Jacque said, remember that Jesus chose you, you did not choose him, “so go forward and bear fruit.”

Salt promotes thirst. “It promotes a thirst to fight against gun violence, to work for a better educational system, to work for equity so that women don’t have to work three jobs to earn what a man does,” Jacque said.

But salt also has a shadow side — it is dangerous, and it can kill.

“Salt tastes good on popcorn, on corn or grits,” Jacque said. “But if we see its worth as too much, we can miss seeing those around us.”

One way salt promotes problems is that it can cause high blood pressure. When people feel their salt is worth more than other people’s, they hurt others.

During a very busy lunch hour at the Athenaeum Hotel, Jacque heard a man at the next table berate the waitperson for being slow. He said he should not have to wait so long and the waitperson did not know how to do her job.

He had too much salt,” Jacque said. “He missed that he was talking to another human being. Too much salt can kill our spirit and our ability to be a community and to go out into the world and make a difference.

On the other hand, we can lose our saltiness, Jacque told the congregation. If the salt stays in the container, it is worth nothing.

“We lose blessings when we are afraid of what might dilute us,” she said. “We say to others ‘you are not part of me.’ We misunderstand that my soul and yours are linked, our saltiness has to meet to do for the world what needs to be done.”

Salt has to be poured out in order to be a preservative.

“It is meant to preserve what is good and noble and right,” Jacque said.

Salt is also a grinding agent, and “can soften hard hearts; it can move that which looks like it is set in stone. But it has to come out of the box.”

Human beings are similar to salt. She told the congregation: you have worth, you are necessary, you cause thirst, you can cause pain or illness, you can lose your saltiness by staying in the box, you can preserve the good and you can grind away injustice.

The question is: ‘Do you believe it?’ ” Jacque said. “So often in the church, by the power of the Spirit, we hear the word, but our salt stays in the container.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the people that you, plural, are the salt of the earth.

“How will you, plural, go into the world, never being afraid to do a small thing, never looking at salt in the same way?” Jacque said. “Go now, and make popcorn taste good.”

The Rev. Carmen Perry presided. Nour Racheed from Batroun, Lebanon, a third-year student at Holy Spirit University of Kaslik studying architecture and design, read the Scriptures in French and English. She is a scholarship student with the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons. Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, directed the Motet Choir in John Rutter’s “For the Beauty of the Earth.” Support for this week’s services is provided by the Geraldine M. and Frank E. McElree Jr. Chaplaincy Fund and the Randell-Hall Memorial Chaplaincy.

Tags : Bryan StevensonDavid BrooksGeorge WillMosesRobin diAngeloZina Jacque
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The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the morning worship column. This past winter she made her acting debut as Miss Maudy in To Kill A Mockingbird at the Lucille Ball Little Theater in Jamestown. She edited the forthcoming history of the Jewish presence at Chautauqua and wrote the history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd for its 125th anniversary this summer. She is a member of the Chautauqua Lake Central School Board and lives year-round in Chautauqua with her dog, Max.