The aroma of Christ

People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
–Maya Angelou

There’s nothing quite like the smells of Christmas – pine trees, peppermint candy canes, gingerbread men, sweet oranges wrapped in green paper. Even the scent of the Sears Christmas catalogue pages hot off the press can bring me straight back to cozy nights sitting near a twinkling tree and wondering if any of the items on the dog-eared pages were hidden in the holly print-wrapped packages.

Scientists tell us that memories triggered by scent have a stronger emotional connection than those triggered by other senses because smells are routed through your olfactory bulb (the smell-analyzing region in your brain), which is closely connected to your amygdala and hippocampus, brain regions that handle memory and emotion. How fearful and wonderful is that? Our creator God even cares about how we experience our memories!

In our house, it’s almost time to take down the jar of gingerbread spices and start baking my annual Christmas cookies. One year my daughter came home from school and breathed in the aroma of the cookies still warm from the oven and exclaimed, “Now I know it’s Christmas!” Even at her young age, the smells are tied to memories.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that God uses us to spread the fragrance and knowledge of Christ, that we are to God the “aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” So I wonder:  what do we smell like to the world? Is our “Eau du Christianity” evoking emotions of love and unity, peace and joy, rest and acceptance? Or are we reeking of anger, judgement, arrogance, unforgiveness and exclusivity?

Ginger is a spice with a long and rich history. One legend says that Swedish nuns began baking gingerbread in the 1400s as a balm to ease ailments related to indigestion. My prayer this Christmas is that we as Christians will seek to bring the message of the Balm of Peace to the ailing in our world, that our aroma will draw others to Christ.

Gingerbread Crackle Cookies

Gingerbread Spice Blend
This blend can be used as a wonderful addition to pancakes, oatmeal, pies, cakes, etc.
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp allspice
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground cloves
Pinch of black pepper

2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking soda
2 tsp (10 ml) gingerbread spices
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
3/4 cups (180 ml) butter
1/2 cups (125 ml) packed brown sugar
3/4 cups (180 ml) white sugar, divided
1 egg
3 tbsp (45 ml) molasses
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).
Whisk first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.
In a second bowl, cream butter with brown sugar and 1/2 cup (125 ml) white sugar. Stir in egg, molasses and vanilla extract. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating well after each addition.
Place remaining white sugar in a shallow bowl. Form cookies by rolling into 1” (2.5 cm) balls; roll in sugar and place 2” (5 cm) apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies “crackle” on top. Cool before storing.


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