Do you smell like church?

I know, a strange question indeed. Especially if your church serves Starbucks in the foyer and you’re thinking, “gee I don’t know, do I smell like coffee?” Hang with me for a minute and read on…

Our pastor just returned from a trip to the Holy Land. He brought back some precious oil; the same kind of oil that is believed to be used by the woman in Scripture who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and hair and then annointed them with ointment or oil (Luke 7:36-8:3). 

Coincidentally (or not), the story of the woman annointing the feet of Jesus with oil was the Gospel reading for Mass on Sunday. So, Father Malley took this oil out and talked about it during his homily (that’s Catholic speak for sermon). 

This passage of Scripture is so rich, Fr. Malley covered a lot of bases in his homily. But it was when he spoke about the oil and it’s fragrance that the Lord really spoke to me. How powerful the fragrance must have been as she poured the oil over Christ’s feet.  The fragrance of the body of Christ must have permeated the room. I can’t help but think the smell of that oil was a reminder to everyone in that room of the forgiveness and love that Jesus had shown this woman and her abundant love in return.

As he talked about the oil Fr. Malley put some of it into the incense burner and walked through the church.  [If incense is not a part of your faith tradition then you may not know that the incense is used in liturgical worship as a symbolic image and fragrant reminder of our prayers rising up to God (see Revelation 5:8 & 8:3-4).]  

As the smell of the incense permeated the sanctuary he told a story about a boy who went home with his grandfather after Mass. Later in the day the boy hugged his grandfather goodbye and said, “hey grandpa, you smell like church.” His grandfather laughed and said to the boy, “I sure hope I do.”  As Fr. Malley wrapped up his homily he asked,

“When you leave you here, do you smell like church?…

When you interact with others do you give off the fragrance of the Body of Christ?…

Is your life a fragrant reminder to others of the love and forgiveness of Jesus?” 

Our music leader picked the Fragrance Prayer for our worship time after communion. It’s a beautiful and simple song recorded by Tom Booth (you can find it on ITunes–it’s worth every penny). I’m told that Mother Theresa prayed this prayer all the time. Now, there’s a woman who spread the fragrance of the Body of Christ…

Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere that I go.
Flood my soul with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be only a radiance of yours.
Shine through me and be so in me that every person I come in contact with may feel your Presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.





2 Responses to Do you smell like church?

  1. amyletinsky says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing this! I love the connection with the fragrance of prayer and the act of this woman. It was something I’d recently read in the bible as well, so it’s been on my mind too.

    I’m going to be more mindful of my “fragrance” today.

    Blessings in Christ!

  2. Amy says:

    Hi Amy-
    Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I’d read this passage of Scripture many times before but until my pastor talked about the oil I’d never thought about the link to the fragrance and the fragrance of my own life. Always love it when the Lord shows me something new in Scripture. Thank you Lord and thanks Fr. Malley. Be blessed and come by anytime.

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