It makes you think of a night with your wife, your mom’s cookies or Christmas growing up. Your sense of smell is an amazing thing. What we smell is catalogued and channeled into our brain so that a specific smell brings about a mental and physical reaction. Perhaps that is why God likes it so much.
The Tabernacle that God had Moses build impacted the eyes and senses for worship. Of the finest of spices (myrrh, cinnamon, cassia, etc) Moses made anointing oil. A different recipe of spices was used to make incense, “a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure and holy.” A unique mix of spices specific to the tabernacle and worship.
If you’ve ever been outside of a good BBQ place or quality coffee roasting house you know that the air becomes thick with the smell and before you know it your mouth is salivating and you are reaching for your wallet. Imagine the first time the Israelites smelt the perfume and anointing oil. The smell then became associated with God and worship. It was a fragrant aroma from tabernacle to man up to God.
In the New Testament God tells us that our prayers are a sweet smell to Him and that our fragrance is the smell of Christ to God among those who are being saved and an aroma of Christ and death to those perishing (2 Corinthians 2). The same way that Aaron and the Levitical priests reeked of oil so we smell of Christ to the world.
Unless you are catholic I suspect there isn’t much of a smell that reminds you of church. There are songs and stories, people and places that do remind us of our church and the body that belongs to it. To those around us and to God we are a fragrant aroma—and vice-versa we to them. It’s a reminder to me that all my senses and experience should be present in worship. When I walk into church this week may God draw me in through the whole experience.
“Thus Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” May it be so.