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Creation – February 3, 2013

Several years ago–1994, to be exact– Scientific American published an article by Jules Rebek, Jr., entitled “synthetic Self-Replicating Molecules.” Experimenters were beavering away in an attempt to make molecules that reproduced themselves, doing this without making any claims that this was an attempt to create life. The author stated that they were having good success with what he called “aromatic stacking molecules,” the same sort that appear in perfumes and other pleasantly scented compounds.

Something clicked for me when I read that. I thought, I’ll bet these guys are on to something! I’ll bet there’s more to the incense practices and “pleasing aroma” references in Scripture than we thought, that in fact there is something to be known of our Creator and the sense of smell that is more than just metaphor.
All those times in the creation story that translators render as “And God saw that it was good”–I’ll bet the translation could be much more earthy than that, especially when it came around to creating all the life forms. I’ll bet it really should read, “And God liked the way things smelled.” If I were God (ever the human foible), this is the way I would proceed. I would make something that smells good to me.

A vision clicked into place for me, God hollering to Jesus and beckoning him over: “Hey, Son, come over here and get a whiff of this!”

The pleasing aroma of creation.

I’m much more of a fan of the good old Hebrew Yahweh than I am of the Greek unmoved mover. I don’t want my God so ephemeralized as to be untouchable, unmovable, unreachable. Mind you, it’s not that I doubt these aspects of an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God. It’s just that I’d as soon include some knowable aspects of the unknowable. I relish a God who chats up Abraham, who permits being talked out of a firm resolve, who comes back at Job with a New Yorker’s attitude (“You talking to me, bub?”), and who teases a sulking prophet a la Jonah.

The God I want to cuddle up to is the God who longs to be known, longs to be in relationship with us creatures. This is the God of the incarnation, God with a face, God in person.

We put a lot on God, we creatures. I want God to be worthy of worship. I want God’s majesty to correspond to the indescribable portrait that Ezekiel limns and that Revelation confirms–a wheel of fire whose rim is speckled with eyes, the Alpha and Omega of all that is.

But I also want God to know me by name. I want God to care about what hurts me and what exhilarates me.

Total ministry in my mind means bringing total God in all God’s triune glory to the people of God. Total ministry is the whole people of God–the royal priesthood of Exodus 19:6 and 1 Peter 2:9–behaving in such a way as to bring the whole Personness of God before the whole suffering and needful world.

Because God likes the way we smell.

Scott Perry
Saint Mark’s, Newport

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