Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Fragrance of Worship

I've been feeling this since the new year and I'm still trying to mesh what I sense and what I experience with what the Bible has to say.  I won't say I'm entirely right, but I will make some good points. 

If you've been to a Friday night meeting with us in the last 6 months, you've experienced the supernatural "incense" that rises up during prayer time and invades the room.  Everybody's been trying to pinpoint it. "It's Frankincense, no it's Rose!"  I've been saying all along that it's a blend.  It's too complex to be any one thing. 

I've been using essential oils for quite a few years now on a personal level, and also in business.  My nose is maybe not the most educated sniffer, but I bet I can give most of you a run for your money.  I can discern the real from the fake for one thing, and most of the annointing oils on the market are fake.  Lots of people don't know the difference because they haven't smelled the real deal and some, when they have, prefer the fake.  I could apply that statement to lots of people's spirituality as well.  Did you know that the nose is a prophetic symbol of discernment?  (Just a little side trip, I'll get back on course.)

Psalm 141:2 says "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."  I feel that each one of us, is putting out a different fragrance, and when we come together in united prayer, we make up the incense blend.  In our Friday night meets, it's always that very familiar scent, but when I go somewhere else, it's different.  Just as nice, but different.  During our New Years party, we got into praise and that familiar scent came in again and then it changed to something, almost peppery.  I attributed that to some new people in the group.

Exodus 30:34 tells how to make holy incense.  There was nothing random about it, just like there is nothing random about the people God puts in your life or how he brings us together in worship.  "The Lord said to Moses - Take fragrant spices - gum resin, onycha, and galbanum and pure frankincense all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted, pure and holy."

Lets break it down.  "Equal amounts".  No one component is more important than another.  "Salted, pure and holy."  Who us?  Just kidding.  "The work of a perfumer"... In the perfumery world, when you are crafting a fragrance blend, you want to select scents that are a mix of top, middle and base notes.  The purpose of this is to create a new scent that captures attention, and lasts for a long time.  By blending correctly, the scents are more effective together than alone. Maybe this is why we are told that when 2 or 3 are gathered together in agreement, our prayer's will be answered.

The top note is the component of the blend that rises up and smacks you in the face first.  It's bright, efferfescent and soaring, but dissapates rapidly unless grounded by a base note.  Makes me think of highly revelatory people.  They have the fascinating stories of their spiritual experiences, very inspiring, enthralling, but not so practical. 

The base note, on the other hand, is not so noticable, but endures steadily.  It's has the "hang time."  Lots of tree roots and barks are base notes.  I'll let you ponder that one one your own.  These people are logical, deep, more logos than rhema.  They tend to be serious students of the word.  Not too exciting, but they give the top and middle notes a foundation and help the top notes to last beyond the ablilty that they would have on their own. 

Middle notes, as the name suggests are those in the middle. They do ok on their own, are fairly balanced, but benefit from being with base and top notes in order to go to new heights and depths.

The point of all this is of course, is that we need each other.  Don't despise people who are more or less revelatory or grounded than you.  If you are a base note, you'll never get off the ground without a top note, and if you're a top note, you'll fizzle out without your base.  A few weeks ago, I went to what might best be described as a Bible study gone wild, due to the number of top notes in the room, but we also had a base note, and for every crazy in-the-Spirit experience we threw out there, the base note could flip throught the Bible and find scripture to back us up.  Folks, that's how it's supposed to work.

Now this isn't to say that we don't work toward balance within ourselves.  Everybody needs to know their Bible and everybody needs to experience God's love and power for themselves.  Head knowledge doesn't cut it and pure revelation leaves you open to deception.

But we are who we are.  Some of us are more left-brained, love to study and being right-brained makes the revelatory stuff easier and neither is bad so we shouldn't villainize those who are different from us.  Hanging out with people who are different from you will help you expand.  We do need to come together.  We need to get outside our denominations and bring our particular fragrance into a mix in worship to God. 

I know that there is much more to this supernatural smelling business than just what I wrote about here.  For one thing, Revelations talks about an angel that holds a bowl full of lit incense to mix with our prayers before they go up.  We know from Psalms that Christ's robe is perfumed with cassia, myrrh and aloes.  As I was writing this, I kept smelling sandalwood.  Not the most talked about Bible plant, but it's in there.  I think a lot of smelling also falls into the discerning of spirits category.  I'm still learning and figuring it all out.  That is our story.  Something odd happens, we get mystified and start digging.  About the time we understand, we're on to the next mystery, from glory to glory.



  1. This made me think of a message I heard once, based on the text in 2 Cor 2:14-16 (NKJV)
    "Now thanks be to god, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the others we are the aroma of life leading to life....."
    If we act superior or judgmental towards others, that is not the aroma of Christ. Jesus never made people feel small.

  2. Oh wow! I just read this last night! And now I have more to think about.