MY CHURCH DOESN’T STINK. But I’m wondering if it should.
It doesn’t have a smell at all, far as I can sniff.
Concrete and steel don’t give off any scent within my range. Maybe Buddy the Dog would say otherwise, with a bark.
I’m getting nosy about the church because of an email a dear friend of mine sent.
His name is Hannes. He lives in Zurich, Switzerland. Years ago he lived with us for several months as an exchange student from Germany. Since then, we’ve visited him and his family twice. And he has come back to visit us twice. Most recently during the last couple of weeks in June.
On the day he was to arrive home, I wrote him an email. It included this note:
“It was a joy being with you again. A little like traveling back in time to a place of happy memories.”
I don’t think he would mind me sharing part of his reply, which got me to thinking about smells, the Bible, and church.
“What you describe – a travel back in time – is exactly how I felt. Staying at your house brought back a very positive feeling that is hard to describe, a feeling of comfort, safety, being welcome and feeling at home. Strangely, I even remembered the (very good) odor in the house very well. This may sound odd, but it was a strong trigger of happy memories.”
I know that smell. It hits me when I’ve been away from home for awhile. I walk in the door and I catch a whiff of a woodsy odor. Maybe from the wooden floors in the entryway.
Scent of church
As I thought about what Hannes said, I remembered something I read in the Bible. God’s worship center had a unique smell. It was intentional. God gave Moses a recipe for incense that the priests were to burn in the worship center.
“Take these sweet-smelling spices: resin, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense. Be sure that you have equal amounts of each. Make incense as a person who makes perfume would do. Add salt to it to keep it pure and holy…Do not make incense for yourselves the same way you make this incense. Treat it as holy to the Lord” (Exodus 30:34-37).
Smells can link us to warm tradition and wonderful memories, like peanut butter cookies in the oven at Christmastime.
Thinking out loud, I’m wondering if we’re missing a link to our past if the only smell we Christians associate with church is the smell of weak coffee mingled with some lady’s strong perfume.
What do you think? Too nosy?
Blog subscribers who win books this week
- Emily Holland
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