"The Foundations of the Faith"
Sermon at the Service in Mazimbu parish (Tanzania), Sunday the 28th of October 2007
Injili kama alivyoiandika Mathayo Mtakatifu 5:13-16
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 by men.
14. You are the light of the world. A city 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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
13 Ninyi ni chumvi ya dunia; lakini chumvi ikiwa imeharibika itatiwa nini hata ikolee? Haifai tena kabisa, ila kutupwa nje na kukanyagwa na watu.
14 Ninyi ni nuru ya ulimwengu. Mji hauwezi kusitirika ukiwa juu ya mlima.
15 Wala watu hawawashi taa na kuiweka chini ya pishi, bali juu ya kiango; nayo yawaangaza wote waliomo nyumbani.
16 Vivyo hivyo nuru yeno na iangaze mbele ya watu, wapate kuyaona matendo yenu mema, wamtukuze Baba yenu aliye mbinguni.
Habari za asubuhi?
Ninyi ni chumwi ya dunia. You are the salt of the earth.
Ninyi ni nuru ya ulimwengu. You are the light of the world.
Dear Christian sisters and brothers, in Finland we have four seasons of the year: autumn, winter, spring and summer. The summer time by us is the most lightful one with the midnight sun up in Lapland, where the sun then never sets. Imagine that. Now we have up there in Finland and in Vasa the autumn time and the evenings are getting darker and darker.
One of our famous writers is Tove Jansson. She has created the Moomins. In a poem Song of the autumn she writes:
Only one thing is important, that is the desire of our heartThe candle gives light in the darkness. Its flame is trenching upon the darkness and casting it aside. The flame is very sensitive. It is changing direction, leans hither and thither. It is always striving upwards. Nothing else we can see does so. The gravity is pressing everything down and so it must be lifted not to fall to the ground.
and to be able to be together with each others.
Hurry, my dear, hurry to love
The days are groving darker minute for minute,
Light our candles, the night is near,
Soon is the flowering summer over.
I remember ten years ago when princess Diana from England who died in a car crash in Paris was buried in Westminster Cathedral in London. Elton John sang a song called Candle in the Wind where the words told about the princess's work for children and those in pain:
Goodbye England's roseThe flame of the candle is striving upwards. With its delicate design, with its warm shine, with its sparkling colours, it is lifting itself upwards like coupled hands. It is the symbol that unites earth with heaven. It is seen in the boundaries of material and spirit.
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart
You called out to our country
And you whispered to those in pain
Now you belong to heaven
And the stars spell out your name.
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in
And your footsteps will always fall you
Along England's greenest hills
Your candle's burned out long before
Your legend never will.
It may often seem to us like most things of life are pressing us downwards. There are so much both at home and in the municipality that wants to take away from us the delight and the bravery. No news are good news, they say. But nowadays we have in our media so many news all the time that they mostly are bad news. All too few news are good, that lifts us up and bring us joy. At least they are not given much space.
The greek word for symbol comes from the verb symballo that means throw, take together, create a wholeness that describes something. The greek word for devil, diabolos, means the opposite: the one who scatters things and destroys them, tears them down and is decreating everything.
So we have in a certain way all the time now been discussing the text of the Reformation day, the words of Jesus in his Sermon of the Mount, Matthew chapter 5:
You are the light of the world. Ninji ni nuru ya ulimwengu.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Mji hauwezi kusitirika ukiwa juu ya mlima.
Certainly Jesus was thinking of his native town Nasareth, which is situated high up on a hill in Galilee in the north of Israel.
In John 8:12 Jesus has said the same about himself:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Basi Yesu akawaambia tena akasema, Mimi ndimi nuru ya ulimwengu, yeye anifuataye hatakwenda gizani kamwe, bali atakuwa na nuru ya uzima.
He is preaching to his disciples and listeners on the Mount, that they are the light of the world. In spite of them being poor, disguised and belonging to the lowest caste of people, to them belongs the future and they are given a new task to fulfil the will of God here on earth. The Kingdom of God will come one day if they only are perpetually working for it to come. And they will do so for the whole world, globally. Mungu ni pendo ulimwengu.
What is the task? What is our task as christians today – throughout the world? God needs people with a flame inside, with hearts burning of love for their neighbours. Someone has to light the candle that will shine faithfully in the darkness! Someone has to stay awake in the night helping others to wait for the dawn. The fire that burns and emanates flames is provided by the Father and the Son. We only need to put our candle ready for service. No difference how young or how old we are.
We can say the same about the saints. A Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, the Church fathers and mothers of the first centuries. They were men and women with a fire burning inside, filled with love and though suffering.
God needs us christians to suffer, to make sacrifices, to fight injustice and rottenness in the world, all that is represented by the darkness in our existence. The evil and the obscure, even the death.
Nathan Söderblom, an archbishop lang ago of Sweden, said once: "The saints are those people who with their lives shows that God is alive."
The holiness, the saintlike, is a gift from eternity, from God himself. It does not come from human efforts. It is not seen in our faces, but it is seen from the suffering face of Jesus Christ. It is a wounded face, the face of Christ there upon his cross. Together with him we can work for the life itself to come, for changing the fear of the future into hope concerning the future, the future of the Kingdom of God still to come. Life has a meaning among all the sufferings and life is worth to live here on earth to the very last breath!
"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Vivyo hivyo nuru yenu na iangaze mbele ya watu, wapate kuyaona matendo yenu mema, wamtukuze Baba yenu aliye mbinguni.
But, wait a minute! Did I forget the beginning of the text, the words about the salt? "Ninyi ni chumvi ya dunia; lakini chumvi ikiwa imeharibika itatiwa nini hata ikolee? Haifai tena kabisa, ila kutupwa nje na kukanyagwa na watu."
It has been explained that the salt could have another function than only that of conservation. Plates of salt from the area of the Death Sea could be used in those days as a bottom in the primitive stoves that were kept on fire with the dried bricks of camel dung. Chemically the plate of salt worked as a catalyzer. It helped the burning. But the salt could lose its saltiness. The plate of salt in the stove was more and more overfallen by ashes and coalbed. It could no longer work as a catalyzer. So its fate was to be dashed out on the very bad roads as a kind of asphalt and macadam. There it was literally trod down by the wayfarers. So Jesus spoked very logically. His listeners understood what he meant. They should not fail in their mission, not miss the target. "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world."
"Ninyi ni chumwi ya dunia. Ninyi ni nuru ya ulimwengu."
It is a challenge for us. Jesus believes in us and he gives us the strength that is needed. Let us have the will to do so.
Let us pray:
Basi, utujulishe kuzihesabu siku zetu,
Tujipatie moyo wa hekima.
Ee BWANA urudi, hata lini?
Uwahurumie watumishi wako.
Utushibishe asubuhi kwa fadhili zako,
Nasi tutashangilia na kufurahi siku zetu zote.
Zaburi 90:12-14 (Kitabu cha nne)
Amina na amina.