September 27, 2019
Scripture: Ephesians 5:2
Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.
Thought for the Day: Is anyone else a little troubled by the description of an execution smelling sweet to God? Isn’t that what Paul is suggesting here? In Leviticus 1, we find this language reflected in the description of the temple sacrifice, “…an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord.” Does God actually have a nostril with the neurological capacity to sense smell? I believe there are plenty of folks who would say, “Yes,” because it says so in scripture. I wonder if such language is more poetic, describing the joy felt within God when people approach God with a symbolic gift of love. Let me describe it this way: You make one of those major blunders that negatively impacts your significant other emotionally. In the recognition of your major faux pas, you run by a florist and pick up some roses. You walk in the door and extend the flowers with eyes cast low. Will your significant other turn away, or even worse, grab the flowers and toss them on the ground? All options are on the table, but when the flowers are accepted ever so gently, and are brought to the nose for a long intake of the sweet aroma, it’s probably a good sign that your sin is forgiven or at least you are on the right track. The pleasing smell of the roses is not the rationale for forgiveness. It’s probably good that they did not smell like dung, but forgiveness has nothing to do with the smell receptors tied to a nerve inside our nasal cavity that trigger certain parts of the brain. For Paul, it is a way of suggesting – using the ancient Hebrew poetry – that the love revealed in Jesus, a love uninterrupted even on the cross, pleases God. And for those who strive to put this love into action, following the example of Christ, live a life pleasing to God as well. So I guess you could say that when you love you smell good to God…even when your love requires you to sweat and others would say, “You stink!”
Prayer: May my life and the life of my faith community be pleasing to you, Gracious God. May the aroma of our work bring joy to you, and if it does, may it provide us with joy as well. Amen.
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Rev. Bruce Frogge