October 11, 2014 | Pastor Sara Wolbrecht
Salt House Name Reveal
Matthew 25:14-29 READ
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 5:13-16 | Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Alright – the parable of the bags of gold or how we have also heard it, the parable of the talents – can you hold on to that in your head for now? We'll come back to it in a few minutes. But first. We have more important things to reveal...
You should have a folded up piece of paper with something mysterious inside... Don't open yet! I am sure none of you peeked at. In case you're new... There is an amazing thing that happened in the last year and a half. Trinity Lutheran Church here in the South Rose Hill neighborhood of Kirkland, closed their doors and donated their property to us. Much discernment and prayerful listening has happened here asking God what to do with that church. And of the hundreds of beautiful ideas, there was a decision made to start a church, a ministry that would target millennials, folks in their 20s, 30s. And I have been here since August, called to be the pastor of what we've come to call the Rose Hill Campus.
But no longer! For today! We reveal the new name of this church that is partnered with us here at Holy Spirit. The name is what you hold in your hands now. Are you ready? Alright, on the count of three we'll open them – count it with me now: one, two, three! (Open!) Ta-da!
Salt House... Just let that sink in. Let me unpack a little bit about why we chose the name and how we will use it.
So why the word house? We chose that word very intentionally. ...All of us long for a place to be and belong. A place that is home for us. No matter what age we are this is true. And this is absolutely true for folks in their 20s and 30s, particularly those returning from college who have just left all of their friends behind or those who move to the area for a job out of college – all in need of community, family, a place to be and belong. The language of house captures that. Even before I started, “house” was one of the possibilities that was dreamed about by the young adults here.
And why salt: Jesus told us to be salt for the earth, in his greatest sermon ever, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. That's how and who we are to be in the world. Reading the text in your bulletin... A somewhat personal question for you... When it comes to snacking do you prefer salty or sweet things? I'm a chocolate-loving person, but one thing I have observed is how fiercely people crave salt. Like our 4yo daughter, she will sneak salt, pour it in her hand, lick it and say, “Mmm. Delicious.” Do you do this? What you more likely do is add salt to the food you are cooking or eating. Why? Because salt brings out the flavors of the food. That's part of what Jesus is getting at when he calls us to be salt. We should enhance the flavors of the world. Or as it says in the version we read: to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors in the people, places, circumstances we run into every day. That in living the kind of life that Jesus models for us – to be people of love, hope, forgiveness, mercy, justice – that people will taste a bit of the flavors of God. And go, “Mmm. Delicious.” And they'll crave more. To be salt.
Salt House. A place to belong with others who are trying to live into what means to live like salt, to live like Jesus.
Jesus models something else that will be a key part of Salt House. Looking at the big picture of Jesus' life, Jesus lived a life of balance. Specifically, Jesus held in balance the three primary relationships he had. You can picture them as the points on an equilateral triangle. Up, In, Out. The three relationships of: time spent with God, spending time IN with his close friends, his disciples, and spending time OUT in the world with people of great need. Up, In and Out, he held those primary relationships in balance.
And so for us, as people who are trying to live a life like Jesus, we too can pay attention to how we balance our time in relationships. Just to check in with yourself for a moment: how balanced does your life feel right now? On a scale of 1 to 10. And as you get a sense of that, then reflect on those three areas of relationship. How are you making time to connect with God, to hear God speaking in your life, to read, to pray. Then how about time spent with family and friends, with your “In” people, people who love you and encourage you, but who also call you out when you need it. And what about engaging with people in need? Whether helping out your neighbor next door, serving through a team here at church, living beyond yourself. How are those three relationships in balance for you – or not?
Salt House will try to balance those relationships as a whole community (in the way we structure ministry) and also paying attention to those rhythms in our individual lives. And instead of using the language of Up, In, Out, we'll capture it using the words: Come, Thrive, Go.
Come. Hear the invitation that God always extends to us to draw closer to God. We come to Salt House as a place to be in worship and to hear God. Come and remember who we are. We are salt. We are beloved, blessed, forgiven, salty, fun-loving people who embody the life of Jesus here and now. Come. The invitation to come back to the place of knowing that.
And thrive. The “in” part is being community together. Be and belong in a community of others who are asking questions and having fun and figuring out how to live faithful, authentic lives like Jesus did. There is such a need for young people to have a place to be real with one another and ask the big questions of life, and purpose, and vocation. Salt House will be a place for that. Thrive.
And Go. As followers of Jesus we are sent people. We don't just exist as a community for the sake of ourselves, but God sends us to be present with people in need. And so at Salt House we'll listen for how we can be a blessing to the south Rose Hill neighborhood, and then for each of us as we go about our week in our particular circles and spheres of influence. How do we see ourselves as sent people who GO.
Salt House. Come, Thrive, Go.
And there's another piece there: the table is set. Also, a defining characteristic of this community will be: meals. Food. Gathering around the table. Gathering people together for food was a central part of Jesus' ministry. A meal as we gather around the communion table and break bread as Jesus was broken for us. And following worship we'll have an actual meal together. Already, since the beginning of September, I have been gathering our young adults for Sunday night dinner at my house. Meals have been how this community is beginning. And that will continue. What is not yet decided is whether it will be a morning service with lunch, or an evening service with dinner. We're also talking about an evening happy hour – so we'll see. But it will definitely include bacon. What I've discovered is that if we're serving bacon, young adults show up! Because it's bacon. Also during the week there will be opportunities for meals and discipleship groups, gathering in people’s homes. We're figuring out the specifics but it's coming together.
Salt House. The table is set: Come, Thrive, Go.
Being salt is not just something for Salt House to be about. We know it is a call for all of Jesus' followers. Holy Spirit Lutheran Church – it's our call, too. I want us to shift now to consider how this is true in light of our gospel reading – the parable of the bags of gold, or talents. We here at HSLC have been living something like the parable that Jesus describes about the gold entrusted to three servants.
You have likely heard this parable before. But I wonder if you've ever considered which one of the servants you are most like. Of course, we're supposed to be like the first two servants. Who take what they're given and make something of it. And I don't know about you, but when I consider the three servants and how they respond to what is given to them, unfortunately, I have to admit, that I am the third servant most of the time. Because the third servant plays it safe. Oh, I like to play it safe. I want to take what I have and bury it in a hole to protect it. I want to hold close the things that are valuable to me. I am risk averse. Anyone with me?
So that's me. But then just over a year ago, on October 8, 2013, I had just landed in Kauai for a rare week away with my husband Jason when I received a phone call from the NW Washington Synod of the ELCA, asking if I would be interested in applying for a job as a mission development pastor. For this new thing that Holy Spirit Lutheran Church of Kirkland wanted to do that would target younger adults on the Eastside of Seattle.
Now let me tell you: Jason and I were not looking to leave our jobs. We were working together on staff in the suburbs of San Francisco – Jason had been there for 10 years, me for 8. We loved our jobs, our friends, the community, THE WEATHER – God was so active in our church and we were both continuing to grow in our faith. And I was two months pregnant with our second child. But I was intrigued and asked a lot of questions and over that week Jason and I began considering what this would look like for us, and whether this was God inviting us to go.
Two things grew in me: Excitement about the innovative things we could try. The church as a whole is in desperate need to do things in a fresh ways, ways that help people really learn to live like Jesus. And Jason and I realized – we could try it! For me to return to the Eastside, where I grew up, a place that I love and that formed me, and to figure out how to live the gospel in a way that millennials on the Eastside can hear it and want to engage with it. Talking with Pastors Mike and Katy and the call committee that interviewed me, and getting to know some of you when I visited – I also began to see God at work through you, the Spirit of God at work in you. I was energized by all of that. That was exciting. But what also grew within me was fear. What if this wasn't the right thing? What if we failed? What if we regretted ever trying? What if it didn’t work?
A wise friend of ours told us, “The call of God is equal parts elation and holy terror.” We began to realize that this was God's call for us. It was time to take a risk, a risk for the sake of the Kingdom of God. And that is a risk worth taking. So we said yes. With a newborn, a 4yo, we moved here, taking a leap of faith. That's what this parable is about. The necessary risk of being faithful to our faithful God. And that is what Salt House is inviting me and you to do.
In the parable the master was angry and disappointed not because the third servant failed and lost the money, but because the third servant wasn't willing to take a risk with what the master gave him. Didn't even try.
This parable is about our God who is faithful and is with us inviting us to live boldly and take necessary risks. It's about our God who is generous, generous in that God gives us the opportunity to do big, beautiful things with the crazy gifts we receive. ...One bag of gold – in the parable – one bag is about 15 years worth of wages. That's just one. What?! What a crazy, generous gift is given to these servants.
Do you know what is also a crazy gift? A $3 million dollar piece of property in south Rose Hill with a church on it. And it is ours. Salt House is ours. It belongs to you. Do you feel it, too, the elation/excitement, and also the holy terror?
Pastors Mike and Katy and I have talked a lot about this. And they asked for some time to share this morning too...
We are holding this crazy, generous gift together. Salt House is ours. And I am so thrilled that it is y'all who are in this with me – for in this church there are such gifts, passion, compassion, humility, joy, creativity, generosity, and so many resources. I thank God for you that we're in this together. Because I cannot do this on my own, not even with the team of kick-butt young adults that are with me. But we can all do this together, working in tandem with the Holy Spirit.
In the next few weeks we'll continue to make available information and sign-ups for how you can help birth this new thing of Salt House. You have a little packet of salt there to take with you and maybe place on your counter at home, in a place to remind you, and be a trigger to pray for Salt House and to also ask God how you might be able to be involved in some way. (And to season your food).
That invitation to COME, thrive, and go, at Salt House is for young adults, but it is also for you, for folks here who are looking for a different style of worship and ministry. So do know as things continue to take form, that you will also be welcome at Salt House – we're figuring out how all of that will work so we can also honor being focused on young adults – but you’re also included. So stay tuned.
So – what do you think? Do you like the name Salt House>
I have been that third servant. I hate risk. But we're holding this amazing talent, this gift together, with the invitation to be faithful with what God has given us and trust in his radical generosity and faithfulness. And I am so stinkin excited to take this risk with you for the sake of young adults on the Eastside, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God. You with me? Thanks be to God. Amen.