Good taste / Mark 9:38-50 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday September 26th 2021 / Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Mark 9:38-50
Theme: Good taste
Intr – (Pastor has entered the Service with different stoles over his robe) Dear friends in Christ in the Gospel today…what? Is there anything abnormal in me today?
Ah, all this stoles here, in a sort of weird way. And the cross on turned to my back. But what gives? Do you think all of this here is not of good taste?
You might say, “well pastor, There is no accounting for taste”. Or like some people would say: “There is no accounting for taste, just lamenting. I can only lament yours”. There are many circumstances in which arguing about preferences is like counting steps of an escalator. It's just wasted time.
However, in the Gospel today Jesus says: “Salt is good/ Have salt in yourselves / Should salt lose its saltiness?” Since one of the main uses of salt is to season things in a proper way – providing good taste - it hints to me that Jesus is asking us to have good taste, that having good taste can be an established and indisputable thing; and this good taste should be upheld against whatever is of bad taste.
Of course I’m talking about good taste in our spiritual life. There is a way to talk about good taste when it comes to the message of the Gospel. And I’ll use every one of these stoles to highlight some of the ways we know what good taste looks like in the Kingdom of God from the readings for today, especially the Gospel.
Gospel (White) – In the episode of demons being expelled by a man Jesus teaches us tolerance. Good taste I our Christian faith is not jumping the gun and judging that whoever is not a Christian like we are is not a Christian at all.
Jesus also teaches about jealousy and pride. Were the disciples jealous of that man expelling demons because there was one occasion in which they weren’t able to?
We all belong to Christ not because we belong to a specific Church body, but because we belong to Christ’s body by faith.
Gospel (RED) –Jesus teaches also the opposite: We need to be intolerant with whatever makes us sin. Good taste here means to do those gruesome things he mentions in order to stay our course in the word of God.
That remembers me of the story of Aaron Ralston. “In April 2003 he was canyoneering alone through Bluejohn Canyon, in eastern Wayne County, Utah. While descending the lower stretches of the slot canyon, a suspended boulder dislodged while he was climbing down from it. The boulder first smashed his left hand, and then crushed his right hand against the canyon wall. Ralston had not informed anyone of his hiking plans, nor did he have any way to call for help.”
With no means to escape it, and no means to call anyone, his fate was already determined. The only option he found to escape the situation: he cut his hand and part of the forearm off in to try to escape certain death. And he made it.
Why did Ralston chop his hand off? Because he didn’t want to die. He wanted to live.
Jesus is talking about eternal life and eternal death. Do you want to die eternally? That means going to the terrible place called Hell. I know, not many people like to hear or talk about heel these days, it sounds a bad taste topic. Well, Jesus himself talked about Hell many times, so I feel like it is of good taste to talk about bad taste.
Of course we don’t want to die. We want to live. Even more so we don’t want to die eternally, we want to live forever.
Good taste here then is chopping off of our lives what is not good. Just as plain and straight as that. Root up from your life and throw in the fire whatever may come in your way to everlasting life. Remember, faith cannot coexist with intentional and persistent sin. Being tolerant with what is bad for our faith is being tolerant with the idea that going to hell is not that bad in the end.
Of course we know Jesus is being hyperbolic here for sure. The problem is not in the hand, foot or eye per se, but in the mind and the heart that commands them. Even though we know hyperbole is involved here, to what lengths would we go when our spiritual life is in danger?
There are things in life we need to completely cut off altogether, You cannot grow a beautiful garden if you always leave a spot for the weeds. You weed them out. Some people perhaps could tell you about things you should cut off from your life. But there are many of them that you and God alone know.
_It’s about your hand but the things you hold on to, or the things your fingers type, say and fire against people and against yourself;
_it’s not about your foot but the places you go too either physically or in your dreams and wishes;
-It’s not about your eye or your ear, but he things that enter your mind and heart through them
If you want to live, cut them off. Jesus is telling you that it is better for you if you cease enjoying things in this life, if you cut ties with people who drag you away from him, if you do whatever it takes to preserve life in you
EPISTLE (Purple) – Patience and Prayer: “You also, be patient. lEstablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord mis at hand. “ In a fast world, being able to wait is certainly a great virtue. Waiting in the Lord while you suffer then becomes even more difficult, especially when you suffer because of your faith. That’s why we establish our hearts in the Lord, not in ourselves, or in human promises and hopes.
(Green) - Gospel And then Jesus tells us that good taste in the Kingdom of God is…having salt in ourselves. Did you know that your body cannot live without salt? “Your body uses salt to balance fluids in the blood and maintain healthy blood pressure, and it is also essential for nerve and muscle function” If sodium, salt, is so much physically necessary, now think about Jesus saying “have salt in yourselves”. How deeply necessary is for us to be filled with the salt of his words to maintain our hearts healthy and our muscle functions of acting for our neighbor active.
CROSS - Jesus faced the fire of His cross to give us the taste of the best medicine for our soul: Forgiveness. Now He send is to live our lives as salt of the earth. With His Holy Spirit he keeps our saltines sin Word and Sacraments so that “we have salt in ourselves and live in peace with each other.” This is how good taste looks like in the eyes of the Father. The Good taste of His Forgiveness received in our hearts, in our mouths, as in the case of Holy Supper. Good taste means to retain the things that last forever, as opposed to so many bad taste things around us that may sound good and delicious to our heart and mind.
Have salt in yourselves. Be people of good taste. The analogy of salt helps is also to understand how Christians of good taste act in the world, sharing good words and deeds. Truth and love. Good seasoning, equilibrium, to bring good taste to the life of our neighbor as well. That can only happen – have salt in yourselves – as we have our ears and hearts wide open to receive God’s content that fills us with the Good taste of his Word.
Cc – That’s not easy, though, I know. As well as sometimes it’s not easy to use just the right amount of salt to our food.. He went to the Cross in our place to make us sure of his presence in our lives, and so that we will love our neighbor as he loved us, giving good witness of His Grace, Truth and Love before others.
There’s no accounting for taste? I’m sure this is right in many of our human daily life situations. When it comes to our life in Christ however, we know what good taste is.
Good, colourful and eternal taste.
 Variations of this proverb include: Every man to his taste: Prov. Everyone likes something different, and you should not condemn people because of what they like. Tastes differ: Prov. Different people like different things. To each his own / Each to his own: Every person is entitled to his or her personal preferences and tastes.
 Think about this illustration: Two young fellows were looking for a job and one said to the other “look, I found a job offer for waiters”/ The other said “hum.. let me see…. oh, I don’t like that one really. Here is says that one of the duties of the job is filling up salt shakers, salt dispensers. And it would be too hard and time consuming to make the salt go through those tiny little holes.”
If tiny little holes are all there is for God’s means to reach us with grace, how can we be good salt dispensers? With our hearts fully open to God’s action by faith there is no doubt we will have salt in ourselves, and we will be good salt dispensers in God’s hands, in a world which frequently is either dull or over salted. We will bring Good taste to an increasingly distasteful world.