One Foot

One Foot

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Church Smells - Thank God

          At church we finished the many services of Advent and Christmas and last week held Vespers for Epiphany.  The candle glow filled the church as we sang carols and the evening vespers.  Incense added to the liturgy perfectly…..”Let my prayer rise before you as incense….”

          I love the images, odors and sounds of the church, especially as we celebrate the days of Christmas and Epiphany.  Even as a child the smells and sounds were an important association with church.

          My childhood church was not Lutheran – just a simple rural church where farmers and small town folks gathered for worship.  We didn’t always have a presiding minister, so perhaps the the theology was a bit thin at times, but our church was filled with the lives of the families who lived there.  We had little formality in the services and few financial resources.  We had what we brought to it.

         In early spring I helped my mother cut the best of our lilacs for the altar. We were never allowed to cut them otherwise.  My  shoes were wet from the dew on the cold grass but I was pleased to sit in the back seat of the ’52 Chevy holding a huge vase of lilacs on my knees, my face buried in that heavenly smell.  The church would be filled with the smell of lilac for a few weeks and other flowers as the seasons progressed.

          There was no children’s church, so kids stayed in adult church during service.  I was grateful for a warm sunbeam on the oak pew that brought out a mild smell of polish. The hymnal had an old musty smell to accompany our song. The spare and open sanctuary added emphasis to the few sensory images present.

          I savor the sensory rich services we have at Gloria Dei. I love the sounds, especially the bells. The aromas from candles and flowers and occasional incense are welcome.  Every sense speaks to us of our faith and the presence of Christ in us. 

           Our church smells - and I can only say, thank God it does.