What’s that smell?
It’s spring here on Vancouver Island and the flowers are budding and many tulips have already blossomed and many others stand sentinel straight waiting for just the right moment to grace the earth with their blooms.
I was walking my dog this morning amidst the splendor and sunshine when we had an inauspicious start. She laid a deuce that scented the air with sickness and my alert brain immediately discerned that something my bubbly 2-year-old mutt ate wasn’t sitting well in her system. I did what all responsible dog owners do, and then I continued on my way.
As we walked what are now familiar roads I was listening to a podcast and so I was in the mode of being largely unaware of my surroundings yet avoiding being hit by cars. Sort of like in a half sleep where your eyes are closed but you sense what is going on around you.
I found myself gulping for air.
It was something I had never experienced, like choking on air.
Can that even happen? What was going on?
I had walked by a large plant; it had countless yellow buds on it. It smelt of lilacs only far far more powerful. I was choking on a natural perfume! Our church has a bunch of signs on it asking people to tone down or avoid perfume use altogether, and here I was choking on a most divine smell (divine once I realized everything was alright).
It got me thinking about the passage where Paul says something about the church being a scent. It took me a few minutes to recall the word, aroma, and then I could quickly find the verse, 2 Corinthians 2:15 which says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
It’s a nice thought, to be a pleasing aroma to God and humanity. But are we? When someone walks by the church what do they smell?
I sometimes think they smell stale popcorn, with souring butter. You know, the church is out of date, irrelevant, useless, for old people (who even goes to the movies anymore?)
Other times I think they might smell garbage: the stink of death and something long past its best before date. The way some people hold their noses in church this might be the smell picked up on by many a church-goer!
To some we might smell of stately old leather, something appreciated, classy, from another world but not derided so much as respected and kept at a distance.
But the pleasing aroma of Christ? What is that?
Is it the smell of diapers from breastfed newborns that we hope will spill over from our church nurseries?
Is it the smell of soup being made for people in need of a meal and fellowship?
Is it the smell of incense being burnt?
Maybe it’s the smell of sweaty people empowered to move by the Holy Spirit?
Or the smell of candy, all sweet and delicious?
I want to ask you what you think it smells like (dark chocolate?).
To me, at it’s best, it smells of fresh baked bread and some recently opened wine, shared among friends. That’s what I am working towards here in my office, that smells like old running shoes with just a hint of grape juice.