Smiles. Wrinkled noses. Watering Eyes. Memories. These are just a few of the things that smells can conjure up. They can remind you of a place and time and transport your mind there. They can warn you of impending danger. Smells are powerful, and they evoke reactions.

Smells evoke reactions in God, too. Right after Noah, his family, and the animals departed from the ark, Noah built an altar “and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird” and made a burnt offering. The “pleasing odor” of this offering is what inspired God to make God’s covenant with Noah to not destroy the earth again.

Every night at camp, we close with a campfire, and I think of these words from the psalmist (maybe more accurately, I think of the words from this Psalm as found in Marty Haugen’s Holden Evening Prayer, “Let my prayer rise up as incense before you…”) and give my worries and my fears and my anger, as well as my joy and hopes and celebrations, over to God to rise up as incense in the smoke of the fire, confident that God receives these aromatic prayers.

God, as we lift up our prayers before you as incense, may their aroma remind you that we offer all that we are to you. Amen.

Adam Erickson, Adam Erickson (Class of 2004) served on the outreach committee, chaired the Student Coordinating Committee, worked in the LCM office as a student, and was LCM’s interim office manager. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Mt. Cross Ministries, an ELCA camp located in Ben Lomond, California.

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.

-Psalm 141:2