What do you like best about the Christmas season? Is it the gift giving and receiving? Traveling to see family? The special worship services? Maybe the Star Wars Holiday Special on VHS??? This may sound odd, but I love the smells of the Christmas season. A fresh Christmas pine tree…the delicious odor of warm Christmas cookies…the turkey or ham baking in the oven… even the Shalimar perfume my dad bought for my mom every year when I was a kid. For me those wonderful smells tell my brain Christmas is coming!

I’ve been thinking about the power of smell in the context of our theme for this school year “Love First” based on Romans 5:8. Ephesians 5:2 tells us to “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” I’ve always been intrigued by that phrase “fragrant offering”. It refers to the practice of a sweet-smelling offering to God made in the tabernacle or temple during Biblical times. We can walk in love and are free to love first only because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. His death was a “fragrant offering” on our behalf to our almighty God. And His glorious resurrection set us free from our sin. In the Christmas season ahead whenever you smell one of those sweet or nostalgic odors of the holiday, remember the sacrifice Jesus made just for you and strive to walk always in His love.