“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God…”
On Saturday round mine we explored smell, and the power that smell has upon our memories. We discussed the ways that smell reminds us of our past, and the emotions that are raised within us;
The smell of a bonfire and growing up in Communist Poland where there were always fires in the streets.
The smell of rain on dry earth and growing up in Africa.
The smell of baked bread and working in a bakery.
The smell of freshly cut grass and a childhood in New Zealand.
The smell of petrol and going with Dad to fill the lorry up for a trip to London.
The smell of Dettol and being ill as a child.
The power of smell to evoke memories is remarkable, and something to be treasured. Not only that, but smell and taste go harmoniously together, whereby a smell will remind us of a good meal, or times spent with loved ones where food was shared.
Smell. Taste. Memory.
When the ancients sacrificed burnt offerings there would’ve been strong smells that rose up into the air, smells that reminded them of their own story, smells that brought back memories of who they are, and why they continued to offer these sacrifices to an unseen god. And with it the hope that these smells within the smoke would reach the heavens and be a pleasing aroma to the god whom they sacrificed to.
When Jesus broke bread and gave wine he called his followers to remember him. The breaking of bread, the wine, the meal, all bringing their own smells and taste, reminding those gathered of their own stories and history. Yet Jesus, in this act, reveals that God does not desire sacrifice, and that we need not be afraid worrying if our burnt offerings will even reach the heavens, and if they do, whether they will smell good enough to God, and if they do smell good enough, whether the smell will remind God to bless us like he said he would if we offered a sacrifice.
No, Jesus reveals a God who needs no reminding, no sacrifice, no smell to remember his promises, rather, a God who’s eternal position towards us is grace.
Augustine said that memory made us who we are, and Jesus’ call to “remember me” in the Eucharist is to be reminded of who we are as we break bread. In this act, as we smell and taste the wine and bread, we are invited into the story of Jesus, to be reminded of how His Story becomes our story, to remember him, and in doing so, remember and discover our true selves.
Not only that, but we are “re-membered”, drawn back together in relationships, invited to be healed, restored, forgiven and bound up in relationship with God and with one another. In the breaking of bread healing takes place; Christ is broken so that we can be drawn back together.
The Spirit of God enables us to remember a story we were not there for 2000 years ago, but are part of today.
And in doing so we taste and see that the Lord is indeed Good.