Last week a colleague of mine tells the story of a food pantry. The weather was terrible, wet and cold, many of the patrons were severely under dressed. As is their custom after the distribution was over they reviewed the process for improvements. Someone commented on the patrons being in the cold. Another said we could let them in, but where? Someone else suggested the sanctuary. After a time of silence the minister said no. After the review broke up in a select group of people, the minister noted his decision was primarily based on the fact that the public is … well dirty.
So that evening I am reading the lections for Sunday. N.T Wright notes that Isaiah 11:3 His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. ‘delight’ actually means smell. Wright goes on to note the custom of having people posted at the doors of churches and mosques who refuse entry to people who carry a scent of evil. [i]
This has got to connect.
This morning I got to thinking about walking into my mother’s kitchen and always taking delight in the wonderful delicate aromas swirling about when she was cooking. That reminded me that an origin of burnt offering is the smoke carrying the delicate delightful aromas to God.
As I finished my sermon, which includes John’s call to repent, his call to change, the idea of our need to change how we smell popped into my head. To Change how we smell. has both a verb and adjective implication. In following John we change how we smell by turning from our sinful, evil ways. On the other hand would change how we smell by changing the odors we are searching for, to those that delight God.
[i] Tom Wright, Twelve Months of Sunday, Morehouse, 2012