At the last two 5 o’clock gatherings we explored metaphors—how they both shape and reflect who we are as followers of Christ. At our last Sunday evening together we looked specifically at the metaphors surrounding Holy Week and how they highlight the heart of God’s redeeming work. We passed around tangible tokens that spoke of different touch points of Christ’s journey to the cross. Bay leaves that represent human frailty and bitterness; cotton balls soaked in fragrance to remind us of Christ’s anointing; bread and juice to call us to the Lord’s supper. In silence we walked under a raised cross as an acknowledgement that we are in need of a savior.
During this season of Lent I have resonated with simple truths found in the tangible aspects of Christ’s days leading up to his crucifixion. Specifically I have been drawn to the idea of tracing all of the scents Jesus would have experienced.
• The strong aroma of the expensive, controversial perfume poured on Jesus’ head would have lingered sweetly for days.
• The inviting scent of fresh-baked bread could have been the backdrop to the musty, dirty odor of feet that needed to be washed.
• Were flowers blooming in the garden of Gethsemane to give some small encouragement to Jesus, or did the dirt to which he fell on his face to pray stink of decay and rotting mulch?
• How did Christ stomach the smell of his own blood on his forehead, on his back? How did it mingle with the scent of his sweat and strain?
• The crowds that pressed in on him brought the stench of their own body odor and hate.
• How did the soldiers smell who came close to accomplish their task? Was there the hint of hesitancy in the air or just pure determination?
• Before he died, was vinegar the final pungent scent to accost our Lord?
I am humbled that our Christ took on human form and experienced both the good and the bad that can be encountered. It is difficult to trace even just this one small aspect of Christ’s journey to the cross without being overwhelmed. Yet I am grateful for this season that encourages us to enter in…to reflect…to appreciate.
And I look forward to walking into our sanctuary on April 20 and being greeted with the aroma of new life.