I came to the end of 2 Chronicles today and having read through 1 and 2 Kings and then 1 and 2 Chronicles, I have read about many sacrifices and offerings made in the temple. I have read about more animals than I could count being sacrificed, about blood being poured out, about burnt offerings being made, and much more. As a pastor, I am grateful that we no longer follow that sacrificial system – trying to imagine what seminary classes would be like today if that was the case. Anyway, one thing that system did bring to the fore in the experience someone would have is that it would be an incredibly visceral and physical experience. One would hear, see, feel, smell, and sometimes taste what was offered in worship. There is something to be said for that part of the experience of worship – today it is very easy for worship to be much more passive – come, sing a few songs, listen to a message, have a cup of coffee and go home. But there’s something that happens when we are engaged through a variety of senses and when we intentionally engage through a variety of senses.
Last night, I was engaged as I was making dinner. I was cooking some burgers on the grill with some hickory chips for additional flavor and aroma. I could feel the heat of the coals, smell the smoke from the charcoal and the hickory, and eventually tasted the meal that was cooked. All of it stayed with me through the evening. (and my t-shirt still smells of the smoke this afternoon).
While I am not necessarily saying I want to go the route of incense in worship and so forth, I do want to experience Christ in such a way that Christ stays with me, fills me, and surrounds me not just in the moment but in the hours and days after worship or a Bible study, or a scripture reading time.