Body Odor

A Guest Post by Mona Scrivens

This is the fifteenth in a series of posts engaging with the sermons in Leaps of Faith: Sermons from the Edge.  This post is a reflection upon an Easter sermon entitled “Body Odor” (pp. 43-49). The Scriptural texts for the sermon were 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6 and Numbers 28:1-15.

“What is that smell?” I asked my husband as I came down the stairs and into the kitchen.

My husband was leaning over an open container of kimchi breathing in the very strong scent.

“Smells great doesn’t it?” He had his fork posed for another taste of the spicy pickled cabbage, the national dish of Korea.

“It stinks, please put the lid on the container. Better yet,” I said, “go eat that in the garage.”

Brian’s parents were missionaries in Korea and Brian spent the first four years of his life there.  As he describes it, he was weaned on kimchi.  He loves it. He loves the taste, he loves the smell.

Last spring, Robert Dean preached the sermon in Leaps of Faith entitled “Body Odor” at Amberlea Presbyterian Church, where I serve as Lead Minister. In his insightful sermon, he challenged us to own our odor and to be the smelly people of God. Looking at 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, Rob reminded us of Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15).

Paul may have been referring to Roman victory parades. The Romans made sure everyone knew they had been victorious, the soldiers would have garlands of fresh flowers draped on their horses and there would be the burning of incense on altars throughout the city. For the victors, the aroma was pleasing; for the prisoners it meant certain slavery or death. The same aroma made some glad and others gag. Not unlike what used to happen in my house when Brian opened up a container of kimchiI must say, however, after thirty years of marriage and countless containers of kimchi in my fridge, I have come to like the taste of kimchi and even appreciate the smell.

Isn’t it true that when we spend a lot of time with someone, we begin to think and act like that person? As believers, we are victorious soldiers. And when the gospel of Christ is preached, it is a pleasing fragrance to God. As we spend time with Jesus, we will love the things he loves and in faithfulness, as we become more like him we will spread a pleasing fragrance to those around us. It should be that when we walk with God, people will notice.  It matters not if there is a no-fragrance policy, as we are apt to see these days, we can be no other way!

Thank you Rob for your challenging message and your blessing to us that we should go ahead and stink up the joint!

Mona Scrivens is the Lead Minister of Amberlea Presbyterian Church in Pickering, Ontario.  She blogs regularly on the congregation’s website (here).

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