Monday, June 8, 2015

The One About Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday, 10th Week OT
Matthew 5:13-16

     You might not be able to tell by looking – but I like me some mashed potatoes!  (Who am I kidding?  Anybody who has ever laid eyes on my waistline knows I have an affinity for mashed potatoes.)  I like the old fashioned, lumpy hand mashed potato like Grammaw used to make and the institutional creamy smooth ‘whipped potatoes’ that come from powdery flakes in a box.  I can tell by looking that some of you like mashed potatoes too!

     But – you know – the thing is…no one really likes mashed potatoes per se – mashed potatoes are really just a convenient delivery vehicle for that savory, buttery, salty goodness that is making my mouth water just thinking about it.  I mean – really – have you ever tried to eat mashed potatoes without salt – or at least salty butter – or at the very least some sort of salty salt substitute?  It doesn’t have to be much – in fact, a just a pinch is usually just right for mashed potatoes – sprinkled right on top of that perfect mound you put on your plate – with that extra little dollop from the serving spoon you just have to get on there.

     It doesn’t really matter how much you like mashed potatoes – if there isn’t any salt around, you don’t even bother putting them on your plate.  Mashed potatoes without salt might as well be left in the bowl.  What’s the point?


     That’s sort of like what Jesus is reminding us of today: because no matter how well mashed the potatoes, Grammaw’s lumpy kind or the institutional whipped kind – if all you’ve got to go along with them is salt that has lost its taste, they’re useless.  You want a visual image of the Christian who has lost his ability to flavor and season the world with the love and mercy of God, bring me a big ole’ plate of mashed potatoes and some salt that has lost its saltiness.  Quick as you know it, I’ll throw them and the salt right out the door!  Salt that isn’t salty is WORTHLESS!!!


     Being a Christian is about bringing the salty to the world’s big old bowl of mashed potatoes.

     Salt changes the way food tastes – it doesn’t take on the flavor of the food – what would be the point of that?  But all too often these days Christians find themselves taking on the flavor of the world – the world that says ‘live and let live’ and that is willing to accept the ridiculous notion that what is true, and good, and right can be ‘voted upon’.  But if we walk in the footsteps of Christ, we speak out for injustice when we see it – we stand up for the truth when tolerance is trying to kick it out the door – and we season the world!

     Salt reveals the subtle, deeper, truest flavors of the food it seasons – flavors that would go unnoticed without it.  You know – they say a pinch of salt in the coffee grounds is the trick to brewing the perfect pot of coffee and, if you have many different roasts and types of beans, the ‘salt-brewed’ method is the key to picking out the subtle, authentic beauty of each one.  Our Christian witness in the world is kind of like that too, isn’t it?  Speaking truth – claiming the inherent dignity of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God and striving to live life according to the moral demands of that dignity and calling others to do the same – all of that follows in the footsteps of Christ who came to show us our truest selves, our ultimate good, our only happiness...


     You know – there’s something I think we miss in this very organic image Jesus paints in today’s Gospel.  You and I – if we want salt – we go to the cupboard, and we’ve got more than we know what to do with.  And if – God forbid – there’s a big bowl of mashed potatoes sitting on the table and we’re out of salt, no problem: we just hop in the car and in 10 minutes we’re back with a big ole box of it to put on the table.

     But…back in the day…back in Jesus’ time…you didn’t just run down the street and come back with as much salt as you wanted.  You had to mine salt from the earth with a pick axe and nothing else.  You had to mine it – or dig pits in the sand by the seashore to fill with seawater and tend to them through the long process of evaporating the water and collecting the salt that’s left behind.  Salt could only be obtained through great effort and what you had was precious.

     Are we working hard – exerting serious effort – laboring for our saltiness …or do we expect it to be handed to us cheaply like so many round blue boxes on a supermarket shelf?  Are we helping our flocks cultivate their saltiness, mining the depths of the truths of the faith in the hard work of discipleship…or passing off some sort of insufficient, bland ‘salt substitute’ in place of an authentic Christianity?  Do we hold as precious the salty seasoning we offer to the blandness of the world’s ‘go along to get along’ nicety – or do we hide it, disregard it, act embarrassed by it?

     Do we embrace our saltiness and season the world with it…or are we trying our best to lose our saltiness so that we look, and think, and smell, and taste like the bland, immoral, half-asleep, unaware mashed-potato-world we live in?


     “You are the salt of the earth.  But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?  It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

     I hope they have mashed potatoes for lunch...but only if there's plenty of salt.


Peggy Carter said...

SO thought provoking!! SO true. 👍

Leo Brown said...

You're making me hungry. Fun stuff. Thanks for posting!