Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Genesis 1-3 like you never heard it before.)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM


The Fragrance Of Easter

April 16, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
April 17, 2022
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

The Fragrance Of Easter

Now it was the Day of Preparation and the Sabbath was beginning; and the women who had come with him from Galilee followed Joseph and beheld the tomb where his Body was laid. They then returned and prepared aromatics and fragrant oils and then rested according to the commandment. Now on the First Day of the week, very early in the morning they went to the tomb carrying the aromatics which they had prepared; and they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Luke 23:54 – 24:2 (DKV)

Today we will use all five of the senses God gave us to worship our risen Lord. He who “was handed over for our offenses, and raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)

Today we enter God’s House to the stunning scent of the lily, which for many Christians is the Fragrance of Easter. In our homes we find the same; the air redolent with many sumptuous foods. Commonly ham or, in the homes of many eastern rite Christians, roast lamb which reminds us of the “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” including yours; and ushers you into the New Creation that we heard of again in today’s Old Testament reading.

While in RC and EO churches fragrance is a common part of worship, it is not so among protestants, but that is changing for the better.

We must always remember that Christian worship is incarnational; including the flesh as much as the spirit, the body as much as the soul, as we learn from St. Paul when he writes, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice which is your reasonable worship.” (Romans 12:1)

And so in today’s gospel we see the women who came to the grave, fall down flat on their faces and kiss the dust when they heard the earth-shattering resurrection liturgy proclaimed by a pair of angels:

V: "Why do ye seek the living among the dead? (said the one)
R: He is not here but is risen! (said the other)

V: Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee (said the one)
R: that: the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, and crucified, and on the third day arise?" (said the other)

Now this means that our faith and worship are not simply talking points, but that as the redeemed of Christ we give over all that we have, and all that we are, to our God in praise and thanksgiving.

It means that we no longer serve ourselves. Or the dilapidated culture, which is idolatry. But that we hear the word of our Savior: “You shall Worship the Lord your God and him only shall you Serve. (Luke 4:10)

And so not only do we worship with words Divine though they be. But we worship today with our bodies by liturgical movements: bowing, crossing ourselves, kneeling, processing, fixing our eyes on the cross as Jesus leads us to heaven on earth here at his altar.

We further “taste and see that the LORD is good” in the sacrament of the resurrection, namely Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, or better yet the Lord’s Banquet. Here we feast on the risen and glorified flesh and blood of our own dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; Son of God and Son of Man …

… who, by his blood enacted an Eternal Covenant, and a great salvation that is fixed in eternity. Presently we are in the “waiting room,” but soon enough the Great Physician will see us, and we will see him, and then all the ills of soul and body and society will be gone and remembered no more.

In less nourishing forms of worship as many as 4 senses might be used: eyes, ears, taste and touch. But what of that all important sense of smell? And WHAT A POWERFUL SENSE IT IS! We can forget many things as we move along in life, but have you ever noticed how a simple smell can sometimes erase the years, and bring back long forgotten memories?

But is the sense of smell excluded from our worship? If so then we are not hearing the witness of the Bible where we find that the olfactory senses have been engaged in worship from the beginning: when Abel – who was a prototype of Christ – offered a sweet-smelling sacrifice to the LORD, and paid for it with his life.

Here are the Biblical facts:

The phrase, “a pleasing aroma to the LORD” is used more than 40 times in the Old Testament, in connection with the sacrificial system that was instituted to cleanse sinners of their guilt.

And in Exodus 30 we have this command from the LORD:

Aaron and his sons shall take the finest spices:
- of liquid myrrh 500 shekels
- of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250,
- 250 (shekels) of aromatic cane
- 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary,
- a hin of olive oil.
- And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.

But the importance of aroma in Christian worship does not end there. But in Psalm 45 we find this prophecy of the resurrected Christ, “your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia …”

But what does all this have to do with Easter? Much indeed. Easter is a fragrant Holy Day, the sweet aroma of Life in Christ that covers the stench of our wrongs.

And so in his gospel St. John writes, “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (12:3)

And in today’s gospel we hear that, “the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and beheld the tomb where his Body was laid. They then returned and prepared aromatics and fragrant oils and then rested according to the commandment.”

And in Luke 24:1 we find that they came to the tomb very early in the morning on the First Day of the Week, the First Day of the New Creation … carrying a goodly supply of “the aromatics they had prepared,” only to find that the Lord was no longer there, but that he had risen, “for us men and for our salvation.”

Moreover we have St. Paul saying of our Lord Christ that he: gave himself over to be a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5:1)

We further hear St. Paul tell the Corinthians that the thing we are presently engaged in, this Divine Service is “the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one it is a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life (and who is sufficient for these things”)?

What is that Fragrance of Life that we offer to God? None other than the Offering He first gave us: Christ Jesus our crucified and resurrected Lord as a sweet-smelling fragrance that covers the Great Stink of our sins.

But the church never took refuge in the Fragrant Lord just conceptually, or with words alone, or song alone, or liturgical gestures alone. But she has always employed fragrant incense, and sweet smelling oils, as she learns from the Sacred Scriptures.

But the sweet smelling aroma of Christ, of our faith, of our love for God and for one another does not end here, but only begins.

Why? Because we hear St. Paul also speak of the Good Works of the Philippian church, namely the sacrificial offering they had made to the furtherance of the gospel, as “a fragrant offering, and sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)

And so now let us who are raised again from the death of sin by baptism; and liberated from our addiction to sin … let us offer our whole lives as a sweet smelling savor to God; so that wherever we go, whatever we do, the sweet redolence of Christ will fill the nostrils of all those we serve. Amen