"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only son."
- John 3:16
What makes this season of the year seem like Advent and Christmas? Each Sunday we have been talking about and hearing the songs of Christmas, but I wonder if the primary sense that tells us what time of year it is goes beyond seeing or even hearing to smelling. More than any other time of year, this season smells different.
When we brought our Christmas tree home from the church, the smell of the tree was one of the first things that made it seem a lot like Advent and Christmas. When we put it in the tree stand at home, that smell filled our house. Just think of the smells of all the good foods that we only have this time of year - warm cider, hot chocolate, freshly baked cookies. And what about the logs burning in the fireplace or the smell of candles? Advent and Christmas just smell good!
Psychologists tell us that smells are some of the strongest memories we have buried deep in our brains. Smells activate those memories. Have you ever smelled something and all of the sudden you had a memory of something good that happened to you when you were younger? I guess we could say, "It is beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!"
What might it have smelled like in the place where Jesus was born? Being a stable where animals lived and ate, my guess is that it was not very pleasant. Yet it was into this very humble place that God chose to enter our world as a baby. It reminds us that that God is willing to go to almost any length in order to show God's love for us - even a smelly manger.
Whatever is going on in your life today, whether it is a time of joy and wonder, or a situation in your life that "stinks"-- God is willing to help you find your way out. God loves you that much!