If you opened your PLC bulletin this past Sunday, you hopefully read about the ARC Gathering that PLC is hosting in July. The conference is titled “Scandalous Love,” and the main speaker is author/pastor Greg Boyd. ARC (Alliance of Renewal Churches) has built their reputation on being a relational network of Christian leaders, so exploring the topic of love more fully is totally fitting with their DNA.
But if you’re like me, you might be thinking of all the times you’ve heard sermons and songs and seminars about love, including this past Sunday in the series on the Fruit of the Spirit. And so, why bother going to hear one more sermon? Why give up two evenings to be part of this event? I’ll tell you why, okay? Because “…nothing is more central to the Christian walk than love.” (page 15 in Repenting of Religion by Greg Boyd)
Of course, that’s exactly what we heard in the message this Sunday, isn’t it? (And didn’t you think the new Orchard décor in the Sanctuary was cool?) But here is where the Holy Spirit stopped me during that message, and won’t let me go today; it’s the ‘garlic’ story. Pastor Greg told of the fellow who loved to eat garlic, which caused his pores to ooze the aroma of garlic everywhere he went. Hearing the story caused me to remember a time when years ago I was visiting my daughter in her first apartment in Illinois.
After college Laura had opted to stay in Chicago instead of coming to be with us in California. And during that visit, while she was at work, it snowed. As I watched those flakes drift down from the sky, I opened a window, took a deep breath of that cold, crisp February air and sensed the Holy Spirit saying, this is the fragrance of God.
Over the years since then I’ve asked a few people to tell me what God’s fragrance is like for them. Their answers make me smile. Everything from ‘roses’ to a puzzled stare and shake of the head. And so, as I think of the man who wore the essence of garlic, I have to wonder, what does love smell like to you?