The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The fragrance of Christ

You know that feeling when you leave a good movie or finish a great book — you want to stay in the dark theater or read just one more chapter? Sometimes that’s what I want after a great worship service — five more minutes to feel God’s presence that was so strong I want to take it home.


Then it happened. I had just blown out a candle at home after a morning prayer. I saw the faint spiral of smoke and inhaled the pungent odor of the burning wick. And I was back in church.

Now that my brain has made this connection, it happens often. A candle in a bathroom, birthday candles on a cake, even a candle at a restaurant table can take me right back to the altar. Each of these brings me to a holy place, a place to savor the glory of God and the mystery of God’s presence.

A simple scent, it carries another benediction, another call to be the fragrance of Christ to others (2 Corinthians 2:15-17). 

God uses such ordinary things to pull us to the divine, to a place of worship. Through such ordinary things, I better understand Acts 17:28: for in God “we live and move and have our being ....” God is the source of our life and the intimate Spirit that is longing to be near us in every way, through a wisp of smoke, a piece of bread, a few drops of water.


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February issue


Embracing diversity