Salt and Light

Yesterday, eleven ninth graders affirmed their faith as Lutheran Christians at my home church in the United States.  I have been working with the students and their faith mentors throughout the year, and it was truly inspiring to listen to each of them speak about his or her faith journey, the ups and downs of confirmation class, and the funny moments and inspiring moments from the last year.  Giving confirmation speeches is probably not the favorite moment of the day for most of the students, but these speeches tend to stick with everyone who hears them for they are filled with the honesty of youth.  Few adults could stand and give such testimony.  Later, during the laying on of hands, each student felt the touch of parents, siblings, grandparents, mentors, pastor and teacher, and each one responded.  Some were a little teary.  Some smiled.  One giggled when her little brother tickled her.

One of the newer traditions in our Affirmation of Baptism service included a procession.  Each student came forward with his or her faith mentor, carrying an unlit candle.  Beside the altar stood a bowl filled with salt, with one lit baptismal candle in the center.  One by one, the students ignited their candles with the light from the baptismal candle and placed them into the bowl of salt.  Throughout the year, we have been using the symbolism of salt and light to remind us of how Jesus wants us to BE in the world.

The idea for incorporating the images of salt and light into the confirmation experience and worship at our church came from our sister church in El Salvador.  As young people stand before the altar to be confirmed, each carries a white candle.  Sometimes it is decorated with fancy ribbons and sparkles.  After the laying on of hands, each confirmand receives light from the altar candle and is reminded to be a light in the world.  Then, the pastor carries a small dish of salt and places the salt onto the tongue of each, reminding the young people to be salt for the earth.

As parents, as mentors, as teachers, we want our kids to be light in the world.  We want our kids to make good choices despite peer pressure, to help others who need a hand, to stand up for justice.  We want our kids to be salt for the earth, to embrace life with zest (but not too much), to be the unique people God made them to be, to sprinkle hope and love on others so that the community of faith grows.  This is true in El Salvador.  This is true in the United States.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.  You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."        Matthew 5:13-16

Today marks the 2-year anniversary of Linda's El Salvador Blog.  Today's story highlighted the sharing of worship traditions between sister churches.  If you and your sister churches are sharing traditions, please write about them in the comment section on the blog and we can spark some new ideas for growing and enriching our partnerships.


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