This is the substance of an address given more or less 'off the cuff' to the congregation of the Greater Littleport and District NSS church at Littleport Village Hall, CB6 1LH, on Thursday July 2nd 2015, but now written down in retrospect by the person who gave it, NSS Primus, the Most Reverend Lyn Guest de Swarte. It focused on a portion of Paul's (Sha'ul's)letter that he wrote himself to the church he founded in Corinth.

Now Paul had been trekking around the Mediterranean spreading the word of the new Spiritual Way and founding many churches. He kept in contact thereafter mostly by letter, happily for us, and these have been incorporated into the books we know as the New Testament. So we are able to not just listen again to his thoughts, but can feel a part of that same church in the metaphysical sense of the word.
Being called upon on occasion to speak at churches; and referring to the Greater Littleport and District NSS Church as one such recent engagement, I based my address on Paul’s Second Letter to the Church in Corinth, ‘Chapter 2’. (Simply put the Bible, as the Old and New Testaments, is a collection of written witness and personal memoirs)
Corinth had only been built less than a hundred years when Paul founded the church there. It was a buzzing commercial city with two busy ports. It had a cosmopolitan population – and a huge ‘Red Light’ district. Among the Roman and Greek idolaters were enclaves of Jewish worship, actual synagogues, and Paul, an orthodox member of the Pharisee conviction until his conversion to the Spiritual Way on that Road to Damascus after the Crucifixion, was still entitled to enter and speak in them. (As Jesus had always done)
Like most churches and religious enclaves and groups today, the Corinthian church had its fair share of squabbling and name-calling factions! Paul was the founder and therefore came in for a portion of the calumny regarding his appointment – or not – as an apostle of Jesus just for starters, and whether he had authority to speak for him.
Paul was very fed up with this state of affairs and he had also heard that the members of the church generally were not living the kind of lifestyle that he had in mind for them as followers of the Spiritual Way – now calling themselves Christians.
It's said that they had first been called that, rather than 'students' or 'disciples' of Jesus the Christ, since Paul provoked the displeasure of the Roman governor of Antioch some time before...Nevertheles it was an appellation that brought the various kinds of followers, Jews and Gentiles, under the one umbrella of Christ; 'ians' meaning of the party of, therefore, Christians...
So he wrote a letter to them to be read out in the church assembly. That is the ‘First Letter’ of Paul to the Corinthians.
Hearing that matters had calmed down considerably, Paul wrote this next missive.
Paul knew the importance to us as human beings of our sense of smell.
If you look at 2 Corinthians, Chapter 2, verses10-17 you will ‘hear’ what he has to say on the subject on how we should make ourselves smell good to God.
He wrote: ‘Thanks be to God who leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him! For to God we are the fragrance of the Messiah, both among those being saved and those being lost; to the latter we are the smell of death leading only to more death, but to the former we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task? For we are not like a lot of folk who go about huckstering God’s message for a fee; on the contrary, we speak out of a sincere heart, as people sent by God, standing in God’s presence, living in union with the Messiah.
Our sense of smell is perhaps the most basic of our material 5 senses and can inform us of danger, as in fire, or food or drink that has gone bad, but it can also act upon our emotions and higher thoughts.
The Romans, who were such a force for bad in the world at the time of Paul’s travels, would make use of incense and flowers in their (frequent) victory marches and in their pagan temples. They knew the power of such basic human responses – and psychic effects – but this may be a discourse for another time.
The smell of lavender or other perfume may pique a memory of a loved one or a pleasant time gone by; the smell of cooking wafting across may remind us of pleasant moments past, and other smells remind us of sad times and glad, nice people and not very nice people, happy events or miserable ones. All recalled through our sense of smell.
On a more mundane level, when someone is ill we can smell their illness – a mother will smell her baby’s breath to know if they are sick – someone’s skin will smell strange if they are ill, and certainly we all know the certain smell of the sick-room. These are not smells that repel the Ministers of Light, for they are signals that alert them to their angelic service, but there is a smell of evil that is never exuded by the innocent whatever their bad condition, and this is the rotten smell that Paul wants us to dispel from our lives.
Jesus was also mindful of the link between having a smell of cleanliness, and his commandments regarding the love we should bear towards one’s fellow human beings, showing as the service we can give them, and the love of God.
In that room upstairs in that house where he and his disciples had gathered for their last meal together at Passover, Jesus demonstrated the human need to be comfortably clean and the need to ensure others have that comfort. They had all trudged there in sandals, if not barefoot, and they would have walked through a lot of foul smelling ordure. No drainage or piped sewers, animal dung everywhere, perhaps human excreta, general muck. The temperature hot; their feet would have really been smelly.
Now they would not have sat at a table with chairs to talk at this important meeting – but on the floor probably in the reclining position that was customary at that time. Very close to each other in the warm...
There was no servant to wash their feet, so Jesus announced that he would act as the servant would have, and washed 24 feet that would have literally ‘smelled to High Heaven’ as the saying goes!
Jesus washed off all their poo and muck showing us how to live in service of every kind to others, and how that service will smell so fragrant to God, the Holy Spirit.
We can be the aroma of Christ. We can ensure that we smell spiritually sweet no matter what ails us physically or mentally or what we have been like in the past. We are that aroma of Christ that Paul speaks of when we do any good, kind deed.
As Paul (Sha’ul) closed his letter with this admonition and blessing;
‘...Shalom! Put yourselves in order, pay attention to my advice, be of one mind, live in shalom (peace) and the God of love and shalom will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people send greetings to you. The grace of the Lord Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) be with you all.