Salt & Vinegar
Prayer Pairs #9
Salt and vinegar are both flavour enhancers used in cooking. Independently and together they work to bring out the flavour of a dish. This mainly works by changing our perceptions on the bitter flavours of the dish. The use of salt or vinegar suppresses the bitterness thereby enhancing the underlying flavours of the dish and bringing them to our attention.
Salt and vinegar also both used to preserve food. In ancient times meat was preserved by salting, which is less common today in the age of the freezer, although some meats like ham or corned beef still require salt to preserve. Before refrigeration the practice of ‘salting’ involved covering meat in salt and leavuing it to dry, the salt pulling the moisture from the meat, reducing the environment for bacteria to work. In ancient times meat, fruit and wvgetables were preserved using both salt and vinegar in a method known as pickling. These days pickling is a choice to make pickles or preserves as a dish for the enjoyment of the taste.
Flavour enhancing and preserving are two great metaphors for how we live out our Christian faith. When we practice Christ-centered living this affects everything we think, feel, say and do. Our lives are enhanced by Jesus Christ, and this impacts how we interact with others, spreading this flavour enhancing to the lives of others. By living out our lives in this way we keep the faith alive, preserving it, passing it on and sharing it with others.
Preservation of the Christian faith is a nuanced experience. Sometimes this is confused with preserving the cultural expressions of the faith in the traditions we’ve grown up with or in the moral codes of our political understandings. With the best intentions, we can find ourselves preserving something that is rooted in our cultural tradition, and has very little to do with the words of Jesus. It is part of living in community that rules and expectations are established. It’s not that these rules are necessarily wrong for our group, but we can acknowledge that they are our preference rather than a requirement for living out our Christian faith.
You are the salt for everyone on earth. But if salt no longer tastes like salt, how can it make food salty? All it is good for is to be thrown out and walked on.
You are the light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one lights a lamp and puts it under a clay pot. Instead, it is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so others will see the good you do and will praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 (CEV)
In our churches, in our homes and in our lives, we can undertake a ‘preservation check’ and really think about how much our values really align with preserving and passing on the faith as Jesus showed us. For me this test is at it’s most stark by considering the ways we embrace and include other people into our communities and into our own lives. Jesus came for all people everywhere. The challenge for us to consider is how inclusive we are of all people no matter race, gender, sexuality, age, language, intelligence, physical appearance, capability, disability, cognitive ability, financial standing, criminal history, religious or political stance?
Today’s prayers use the simple kitchen ingredients of salt and vinegar. I’ve also included a prayer for eating salt and vinegar chips (crisps) as it seemed too good an opportunity not to include a prayer based on my favourite flavoured snack. The salt prayer is an old favourite and one you may have read here before… I share it again for those who are new to this Virtual Prayer Room. It’s one to share with others when you’re having a meal together.
On the journey