I am really a kid at heart. I love everything about Christmas- the sights and sounds and even the special smells and aromas of Christmas. What other time of the year can you have such wonderful scents, fragrances and aromas that tantalize your senses and cause you to re-live pleasant memories from years gone by? I can just smell my mom’s homemade Russian Tea with the cinnamon and cloves right now. Yum! The gingerbread, the smell of pine, the honey baked ham, Christmas cookies. Ah, we love it all. All of this warms our heart and wraps us up like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day. It really does make this time of year so special and joyous to us.
But, it hasn’t always been this way. You might say that the aromas or scents of that first Christmas were more like odors than fragrances. Instead of pine, cinnamon and gingerbread, they got a whiff of manure, hay and livestock. There is a story that Geoffrey Bull, a missionary to Tibet shares that relates to that first Christmas. After he was seized by Communists and forced to march across frozen mountains until he despaired of life he entered a village late one evening. His captors gave him a small room warmed by a fire. Just as he began to thaw, they ordered him downstairs to feed the horses. In the cold stables below the house, his boots squished in the manure and straw. The smell was overwhelming at times. He later wrote that it suddenly flashed into his mind. It’s Christmas Eve there I was in an Asian Manger. To think that my Savior was born in a place like this and that he came for me. I returned to the warm, cleaner room which I enjoyed even as a prisoner and bowed in thankfulness and worship.”
No, there wasn’t anything spectacular about the aromas of that first Christmas but there was something spectacular about the aroma of His life. People were drawn to Him- the misfits, the thieves and tax collectors, the sick, the social outcast, the rejected, wounded and despised. People made great efforts just to be near Him. They would lower themselves through a roof, climb a tree, reach out to just grab his robe. There was an aroma about him and his life that made him irresistible that captivated men and women’s hearts and changed their lives forever.
It has been said that you are known by the company your keep. If that is true, then what does that say about our lives? Do we carry the same fragrance or aroma that Jesus did? The Apostle Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 2:14 – “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” Do our lives carry the fragrance or aroma of our Lord to a hurting world?
More than the tinsel and lights on a tree I believe our world is desperate to see people whose lives house the real thing. A scientist once said, making a plea for exchange scholarships between nations, “The very best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person.” Well, that my friend is exactly what happened at Christmas. Heaven’s love came wrapped up in a Person. The best gift you can give someone this Christmas doesn’t come wrapped in packages and bows. It is the gift of you- your time, your heart, your love, your embrace, your service. Nothing can take your place. Brighten the corner where you live. Change the atmosphere. Give the world your fragrance.
As you celebrate the wonder and excitement, the sounds and aromas of this wonderful season, I hope you will remember that first Christmas. I hope you remember that the light of the world who has come to fill your hearts with His fragrance- give you the oil of joy, the garments of praise for a spirit of heaviness. May His very presence in your life not only be a sweet fragrance that will perfume your own life but a sweet fragrance that you give to a hurting and very needy world.