This is a guest post by my good friend, Jessie Weaver. Her words are so timely and speak to my heart as we prepare our senses to experience the Resurrection this year!
One of my best college friend’s wedding was very high church. He is an Episcopal priest, and the wedding was complete with big bishop hats and a fellow priest with an incense scepter swinging back and forth.
I’ve always thought the whole smelly incense thing was kind of weird. It’s probably due to my highly sensitive nose, but also the fact that I attended (and still attend) a Southern Baptist church growing up. We’re a little wary of anything mystical and churches that don’t have an altar call. Just sayin’.
But this past week it’s become very clear to me why the high church has incense. God invites us to worship Him with all our senses – just what Amanda is showing us in A Sense of the Resurrection!
(I will preface this with the fact that I am studying A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place by Beth Moore. So some of this is from her lessons and teaching videos.)
God instructed the wandering-in-the-desert Israelites to build a worship place He called the tabernacle. It was a traveling version of the future temple in Jerusalem, and God gave chapters and chapters of explanation to Moses about how to build it, found in the Book of Exodus. And that tabernacle was, Hebrews tells us, “a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’ ” (Heb. 8:5). A shadow of heaven!!
Imagine walking through that tabernacle with me. You see the bronze altar glimmering and hear the fat sizzling as the animal is sacrificed. You wash your hands in the bronze basin, cleansing them and symbolizing the purification of your heart. You may enter the Holy Place, being a priestess (1 Pet. 2:9), seeing the flowing curtains of scarlet and blue and purple. Your shadow is reflected in the dim light from the seven-armed golden lampstand. Taste the Bread of the Presence, and consider the Bread of Life who gave Himself for you. Smell the unique fragrance wafting from the altar of incense, a blend so special God forbid anyone use it anywhere else – with a punishment of exile if they did (Ex. 30:38).
The priests worshiped God will all their senses; fueled by sacrifice, they lifted their sacred prayers to Him. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we sometimes wants to burn a scented candle during a quiet study time. The light, the scent … it focuses our senses toward what we are doing. It’s a method so ancient it originates in heaven.
I think I’d better get used to the incense. There are bowls of it in His dwelling place (Rev. 5:8).
Jessie Weaver is the mother of three rambunctious kids under age 6 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She is a freelance writer and also invites readers onto her couch to share the messiness of life at jessieweaver.net.