What Is That Aroma?

cookies.jpgI read the other day that dairy promoters are putting up special signs at bus shelters in San Francisco.  On the signs are the words, “Got Milk?”  What is unusual about the signs is that they
have put scent strips on them that create the smell of freshly baked
cookies.  The idea is that as people are
waiting for the bus and smelling the aroma of freshly baked cookies, they will
want a cold glass of milk.  Hmmm.

Nice try.  Who knows? 
Maybe it will work.  I know one
thing for sure: I am attracted to the
scent of  cookies baking in the oven.  What
an aroma!  Think chocolate chip.  Sugar cookies.  Oatmeal raisin.

Maybe the promoters are right.  They are counting on people smelling the scent of freshly baked cookies and wanting milk.  Perhaps people catch a whiff of our lives and it reminds them of something — or someone.

This happened last Sunday morning in our church.  A father told me earlier in the week, "I need the church to pray for our family on Sunday."  This family had been in a crisis that week.  Their son (just out of high school) had been involved in breaking into and vandalizing a nearby high school.  Security cameras caught them and the film was broadcast throughout our area on the local news.  Then, the boys, escorted by their parents, turned themselves in to the police.

At one moment during our Sunday morning gathering, this entire family, including the young man, sat on the front row asking the church to pray for them.  I watched people (about 75 to 80) get up from their seats and come to the front to join them.  Most of our youth group stood around this young man.   I read a statement from this family.  The statement was candid regarding the incident.  No excuses, blaming, etc.  Yet, they also declared their desire as a family to love their son through it all. 

So — we prayed.

I sat down after praying and watched as person, after person, after person hugged each member of this family.  I watched as those in our high school group hugged this young man.  At the conclusion of our assembly, I watched as still more people came to hug this family — grandparents, other moms and dads, and more teens.

Last Sunday morning, I caught the whiff of a scent that reminded me of Jesus.  The love and compassion of these people reminded of what we are called to be as a church.  It was a wonderful aroma.  I left that morning wanting more. 

What was the aroma?  The living presence of Jesus at work in a group of people.  It reminded me of Paul’s statement many years ago in which he said, "…For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life…" (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

Can you think of a moment when you knew you had caught a whiff of the aroma of Christ?  Can you think of a moment that was particularly meaningful to you?

(You may recall a post I did recently in which I mentioned a wonderful book entitled Pilgrim Heart by Darryl Tippens.  Last evening, Darryl posted a comment on that post.  You might enjoy reading this.)    

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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20 thoughts on “What Is That Aroma?

  1. Jim, I was reminded of your blog as I drove to work this mroning.  I picked up Krispy Kreme doughnuts to take to share at work today, and the scent of those doughnuts filled the car!  I appreciate the way you take everyday occurrences and use them to remind us of the spiritual realm.  That is an art that you have developed in a very fine way!  Using the ordinary to remind us of the sacred.  Beautiful!

  2. Jim: What a wonderful experience. We’ve seen that happen many times here in Long Beach and I am always overwhelmed by the abject love! One particular morning a young women spent about 90 minutes in prayer with the family life minister and elders. She had spent the weekend on the edge of suicide. We pretty much abandoned the entire schedule that morning to simply minister to her and dozens of people came to the front to pray with her and hug her and share their stories with her. When all was said and done, it was the most powerful worship time I’ve ever experienced.

  3. I wondered what that odor was at our gathering Sunday morning.  It wasn’t a pleasant one. A young girl asked for prayer because she’s "wishy-washy" about her Christian walk. (who there could’ve cast a stone?)  No one came to sit with her.  The preacher and elder who led the prayer stumbled over her name because they didn’t know her.  In the defense of others, I hadn’t seen her walk to the front but I can’t help but think how nice it would’ve been if even one other person had come to her and said, "Me, too".  I’m going to try to be better about that.

  4. hiya again

    i love that – a sniff and wiff of Jesus. It is true though isnt it – there are moments when you really sense God there moving in the hearts of His people (i know he is all the time, but sometimes you can REALLY sense it eh!)

    i pray that God uses that situation to change not only those young men, but the youth group and the parental generation too. God can use anything for His glory and His good, esp hearts that humble themselves and ask for His help.

    Bless you again for your wonderful blog.

  5. Terri,Oh my!  How frustrating!  Unfortunately, I have seen that same kind of situation unfold on more than one occasion.  Makes you want to cringe.Your story, Terri, is a sobering reminder of the other side of this. 

  6. Claire,Thanks for another fine comment.  I pray the same.  That God will use this situation to touch all of our hearts.  Thanks again for coming by and for your kind words regarding the blog. 

  7. Connie,Thanks for a wonderful analogy!  A box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts communicates with many of us.Thanks for your kind and encouraging words regarding the "ordinary."   

  8. Connie: You just gave me a radical idea … sharing a box of Krispy Kreme’s!! I’ve eaten a few boxes of them but never entertained the idea of actually sharing them! 🙂

  9. Okay, I’ll admit that I spent the first few minutes after reading this blog trying to think of what to make bus shelters smell like to encourage people to attend church.  The leather of new hymnals?  Communion wine?  Incense? 
    More seriously, the analogy of cookies works really well here to represent how we should be different–a difference that permeates all that we do (like a scent) and is very attractive to others (the love of Jesus).
    Thank you for the post.

  10. Brad,So glad you stopped by!  Your comment is great.  I loved your examples of what might cause people to attend church. :)Again–thanks so much for the comment and just for coming to this blog today. 

  11. Paul’s metaphor of the church as the aroma of Christ is amazingly beautiful and evocative, isn’t it? And those moments (like the one you mention) really do give us a scent of Christ and his presence. They smell has an amazing connection to memory and indeed these kinds of heavenly outbursts are wonderful memories and markers for us along our journey. Yet Paul’s metaphor is just as mysterious and  esoteric. This scent isn’t easily produced, doesn’t show up as often as we like and can be so abstract and even subjective at times.  Paul just has a way with words – almost like he had some kind of divine help or something.  Love the story Jim. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I love the story. It is very encouraging to think how much we can be an encouragement to others just by being there for them. Just by praying for others, we make a difference in a life. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  13. Jesus is reorganizing the priorities of His body! Jesus said " they will know that you are My disciples because of the love you have for one another" I truly believe that we need to be paying more attention to the widows, single parents, the elderly and all others in between within the household of faith as a priority! When the commission to evangelize becomes our overwhelming priority the loving, caring Spirit lead environment we've been called to cultivate within the house often suffers! We need balance. What good is a great frontline if we have a lousy back room unable to cater to the needs of those flooding through our doors! Jesus said "without Me you can do nothing". Only by creating an environment that attracts the presence of Jesus will we create an environment that attracts those who are seeking life! Only Jesus satisfies! A loving, compassionate, merciful church emanating the very nature and manifest presence of Christ will end up being our greatest evangelistic tool and will result in strong well equipped Christians.

  14. A great stir indeed for a closer work with God and His saints. The love of a family with promptings from God. Only the love of God in our hearts can do this. I’m really blessed.