Jun 25, 2015

A Sweet Smelling Savor

As a guest visiting a beautiful house of worship, I entered the sanctuary with much interest, anticipating a new worship experience in an architecturally exquisite church. 
Surprisingly, it was the wonderful fragrance that immediately captured my attention. 
Whispering my surprise, I leaned close to say, “It smells so good!”. 

Incense is not used in the churches of my heritage, but its presence in that sanctuary felt ancient, authentically divine, and was deeply memorable. 

As Lauren Winner writes in her recently published book Wearing God, "In early Christian worship, incense "conveyed divine presence" to the people. Jesus breathed out the "fragrance of His life" upon the cross, and that fragrance was elusively present, reprised in the incense lit during liturgy." p.77

Fragrance appears in several Biblical texts to describe the perfumed presence of the Holy Lord…

"All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia." Psalm 45:8

"...And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering 
and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor." 
Ephesians 5:1 KJV

Fragrance is also used to powerfully represent the constantly streaming prayers of God’s people. A multitude of prayers, as incense, permeating the air with sacred scent and rising up before the enthroned Risen Lord…

"...the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people." 
Rev. 5:8

Fragrance, the presence of scent, 
gathers an entirely new and elevated meaning when pondered through the words of these scriptures. 

It prompts a closer attention to the rain washed scent of baptismal waters, the aromas steaming from “our daily bread”, the fragrance of candle wax burning on the alter, the ancient perfumes of the Bethlehem story, and the bouquet of the wine “poured out for you”.

Be alert for a sweet smelling savor; Holy God leaves fragrant traces of His presence.


Read more from Wearing God

" can discover things about God by looking around your ordinary, everyday life. There is a method here, and it is a Jesus method. Jesus, after all, specialized in asking people to steep themselves in the words of scriptures and then to look around their ordinary Tuesdays to see what they could see about holiness and life with God. This is not merely entertaining wordplay to give overactive minds something pious to do. It is the Bible's way of making us aware of God and of the world in which we meet God."  Lauren Winner, Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God

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Jun 21, 2015

Let Words Spill

Let words spill even if they must be covered up.

Occasionally a writer approaches the journal with a full heart 
and a mind turbulent with words to stream.
Yet the pencil, poised over the page, is frozen there. 

There are words of the heart that feel far too tender, 
far too skittish of white page exposure to be released in script. Though these are the very thoughts that a prayer journal has pages to receive and the power to sooth.

Let words spill even if they must be covered up. 
Let that pencil stream, dripping words of struggle across the lines, 
venting whatever there is, 
that is squeezing the life out of a heart. 
Let the pencil go to a nub releasing the soul’s troubles. 
And when interior struggles are too grey to remain in the light, 
sometimes its best to wash color right over it. 
Cover it with pattern and silhouettes of hope. 

Cover it with prayer and offer it to God’s abiding and tender care.

“Let us have confidence, then, to approach God’s throne, where there is grace. 
There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” 
Hebrews 4: 16

{Writing in a journal or on a blog has scientifically been shown to have strong physical and mental health benefits. Read more here.}

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