Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Is this a geography lesson, or a story about some family vacation; or some other story that has absolutely nothing to do with anything? You may even be wondering if I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel for material to continue this blog. And while I admit that sometimes I wonder what I will write about, I am a long way from being out of ideas.
But once again, last week-end provided an opportunity for Janet and me to go back in time and re-live an early experience in our lives together – this one from when we were dating. You see, when I was in high school, I worked at an exclusive boy’s clothing store named, “For Men, Jr.”, which was located next door to the “Huddle,” a clothing store for high school students. Mom used to shop for my brothers and me in the store, and when I was old enough, Mr. Heidecker, the owner, asked me if I wanted to work there. Since I was 16, I was assigned to the “Huddle” side, even though I was allowed to sell on either floor.
The fall I started working, one of the distributors we used at the store started to represent another line of cologne, named “Nine Flags.” Each particular fragrance in the collection was named after a country, and to be honest about it, I wasn’t particularly fond of any of them. But they went over big with the guys in high school, and we sold a ton of the stuff. Well, the next year, they decided to add to the collection, and soon after, there were three or four additional countries represented. Each bottle had 2 oz. of aftershave and came in a bottle that was rounded at the bottom – with a brushed aluminum cap. They never changed the collection name to reflect the additional countries; and sometime in the mid-seventies, after Janet and I were married, they discontinued production.
Anyway, one of the new items was an aftershave named Luxembourg. It was terrific. Since each of the original products was a different color, Luxembourg was identifiable by its light blue liquid. Since it wasn’t one of the first ones we carried, most guys were already set in their ways and wanted nothing to do with changing their cologne. Not I! I was all over it, and soon Luxembourg became my aftershave of choice. Today, according to eBay, you can still purchase several of the bottles from all the way back to 1965, when it was introduced – at up to $350 per bottle! I should have stocked up on the stuff! Because in the beginning, it was about $15 for the entire nine bottle set! I remember that the newer additions to the collection sold for $1.65 each, up from $1.50 for the originals. Since I made $1.25 per hour, up from my starting pay of $1.10, it was quite a decision as to whether or not I should spent so much on cologne!
Well, to cut to the chase, Janet and I went to one of my favorite stores this week-end – Orvis. As I was looking at picking up several shirts, Janet was milling around the store. I heard her tell me, from thirty feet away, that she wanted to buy me something. As soon as I turned around, I saw a bottle in her hand, and I knew that she had found something that reminded her of Luxembourg. And I was right! She couldn’t believe that I figured it out, but as soon as I smelled the cologne at Orvis, I knew it was almost a dead ringer for that fragrance from so many years ago. For the record, it is called Royall Muske, and is imported from Bermuda.
In fact, shared memories are some of the things that are so great about our relationship. Here we are, 40 years later, and we both have the exact same memory after getting a whiff of a cologne at a store. Go figure. Needless to say, I now have a bottle of “Luxembourg”, circa 2011.
Which brings me to the Scripture of the day. No, it’s not about the vastness of the Roman Empire, or taking the Gospel to the “ends of the earth.” It’s about aroma. That’s right – smell. Because there are several verses that refer to an aroma pleasing to God. This had to do with the offerings and, at times, the incense that the priests used. In fact, it was thought that the prayers of the saints were sometimes carried to heaven in the incense and aroma that was used to please God. The verse for this evening is from 2 Cor. 2:15, when Paul reminds us, “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”
This passage can be a little difficult to understand, but here’s the big idea. Paul lets us know that our acceptance of Christ sets us apart from the world, and this “aroma”, pleasing to God, is received different ways by different people. To those who are saved, we are the fragrance of eternal life; and to those who do not know Christ, it is the smell of death – something we would consider as the eternal separation from God.
My encouragement tonight is that the mandate of Christians is to be the aroma of God and to infiltrate the world, just as the fragrance of a fine cologne or perfume fills a room. And my prayer is that you will continue to be a beacon of hope for the lost; and that you will always do things that, above all, are pleasing to the Father. Grace and peace,