Contributed by Steve Alloway, Granada Hills, CA

Warm-up Question

Do you cook, bake, or otherwise make food for yourself or others? What are some things you can do to make an ordinary lunch more interesting?

Called to be Flavorful

shutterstock_103507949editIn Spain, tapas are a variety of appetizers and snacks, originally designed to be eaten with wine. But as the new exhibition, “Tapas: Spanish Design for Food” demonstrates, they’ve become much more than that over the years. The exhibition, held at the former home of the Spanish Ambassador in Washington D.C., highlights the art and creativity of food in a variety of different ways.

“Spain loves to play with its food, not just to eat,” says Juli Capella, the curator of the exhibition. “Because we were a poor country… people celebrate the food as a special party.”

“Tapas: Spanish Design for Food” features not just food, but also place settings, and a variety of culinary gadgets. There’s a coffee spoon, which has a pen on the other end of it, to sign your check. There’s an “Oxymoron Maker,” which can bake a brioche filled with ice cream without melting the ice cream. There are even tongue-in-cheek exhibits on the future of food, including food branded with logos to serve as edible advertisements.

“The creativity of the chef is not just in the food, but in the experience,” says Capella. “Tapas: Spanish Design for Food” seeks to give visitors that creative experience.

Discussion Questions

  • Would the “Tapas” exhibition be something you’d be interested in seeing? What would you most like to see/experience there?
  • Would you eat food that had been branded with advertisements? Why or why not?
  • How do you think Spain’s history of being a poor country impacts its view of food as a party? How do you think their view towards food affects the rest of their lives?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday,  February 9, 2014 (Fifth Sunday after Epiphany)

Isaiah 58:1-9a [9b-12]

1 Corinthians 2:1-12 [13-16]

Matthew 5:13-20

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.) For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

“You are the salt of the Earth.” The expression “salt of the Earth” has come to mean a really good person: helpful, loyal. But what did Jesus mean when he said it?  In ancient times, long before the days of refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food. Adding a little salt to meat would keep it from going bad. So, are we supposed to keep the Earth from spoiling? In a way.

Verses 18-20 talk about the importance of God’s law. Not a single stroke of a pen nor even the dot over an i in the law can be ignored. The holiest, most righteous people of the day were the scribes and the Pharisees; Jesus says that we need to be even more righteous than they to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Who can meet such a high standard; how can anyone enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Through Christ’s salvation. Christ is the perfect fulfillment of the law. We strive to live as faithfully as we can, but finally we are utterly dependent upon God’s mercy revealed in Christ’s  death and resurrection.

There’s more in this passage than just a call to be serious about keeping the law. Jesus says God wants us to be bold and distinctive in witnessing to what we have experienced in Christ. In this world, we’re surrounded by sin and evil.  Our job is to be salt, to share the gospel with the world. If we don’t do that we are hiding the light which a dark world needs, we become salt without power to preserve from decay.

Salt has another purpose: it gives things flavor. It makes them more enjoyable, better tasting. Without Christ’s salvation, the world is often sad, lonely, and bitter. The joy of salvation takes that bland world and adds flavor to it. It makes life happy, exciting, and worth living. By spreading God’s Word, we help to make life delicious.

Discussion Questions

  • What would your life be like without Christ in it? In what ways does God’s salvation make your day-to-day life more flavorful?
  • What are some ways you can add flavor to another’s life this week?
  • Sometimes hiding your light under a bushel is easier than letting it shine. Have there been times when you’ve had the opportunity to share God’s Word, but were afraid to?
  • How does it affect us if we lose our saltiness, or hide our light under a bushel? How does it affect those around us?

Activity Suggestion

Sing “This Little Light of Mine.” Look for songs, either sacred or secular, about salt. What messages do those songs convey? Write your own song about our role as “salt of the Earth” and what that entails.

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord, be with us in the coming week.  Let your Word and your love shine in our lives. Let us spread that Word to those around us, like a light shining in the darkness. Make us salt that helps preserve your creation and adds flavor to an otherwise bland world. Make us bold in showing your light to the world and distinctive in our witness. In all that we do, may we be beacons of your salvation. Through your Son, Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.