Abundance and Excess




Abundance and Excess: the power of smell


God of the sweet smell of fresh dug earth
God of the ocean breeze, fresh in the morning
God of the honeysuckle rampant in the hedgerow crawling
God of the fragrance of food and flowers
God of odours strange and mysterious
God of frankincense
God of myrrh
Christ who was born into this world of smells and odours:
Embrace us in the fragrance of your love
Shroud us in the incense of your grace


Smell indicates both poverty and wealth.  Poor people have always lived in the smelliest, dirtiest places.  This is why East London has traditionally been the poor part of London; polluting industries were located here and the prevailing west winds would blow the smells of the city over the East End.  On the other hand perfumery is a multimillion pound industry and it sells itself as a luxury product which summons up images of refinement and excess.

But when is the use of perfume excessive – and when is it an abundant celebration?

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

John 12

Reflection on abundance and excess this  Christmas

Prayers for the world


We confess that our lives often don’t smell too good
We try to hide it with artificial perfumes
We try to ignore the rank smell of excess and selfishness
But if we are honest we know that all too often our lives do not smell sweetly of your love and grace
We pollute your planet because of our greed
We marginalise the poor into the noxious corners of the earth we would prefer to forget
We selfishly pursue our own gain
We fail to consider the impact of our lives upon others
But now we come to you in humble trust
We desire to be smothered in the fragrance of your Spirit
We desire to participate in the sweet savour of Christ
Cleanse us we pray, O God, that our lives might become something good and beautiful and fresh through your abundant grace
Almighty God,
Who forgives all who truly repent,
Have mercy upon you,
Pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
Confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
And keep you in life eternal;
Through Jesus Christ our lord
Amen, Lord have mercy

Sharing the Peace

The peace of the Lord be always with you

and also with you


The Lord is here
His Spirit is with us
Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord
Holy God, holy and true
We thank you for Jesus Christ who came to live in this smelly, confusing world
In the midst of exploitation and excess he brought us the abundance of your simple, fragrant grace
And taught us to follow you in joy and simplicity
That we might return to you a sweet fragrance of mercy and justice
Amen, Lord have mercy
Lord, you are good and the source of all good things
Your Spirit is a sweet savour of all that brings life and hope in a damaged world
Grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit
These gifts of bread and wine
May be to us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
Amen, Lord have mercy
Who, in the same night that he was betrayed,
After washing the dirty feet of his disciples
Took bread and gave you thanks;
He broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
Do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way, after supper
He took the cup and gave the thanks;
He gave it to them saying:
Drink this, all of you;
This is my blood of the new covenant,
Which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
In remembrance of me.
Christ has died
Christ is risen
Christ will come again
The bread is broken
We break this bread
To share in the body of Christ.
Though we are many, we are one body,
Because we all share in one bread
The invitation
Jesus is the lamb of God
Who takes away the sin of the world.
Blessed are those who are called to his supper.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,
But only say the word and I shall be healed.
Communion is received
Lord’s prayer
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
You will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
And the glory are yours
Now and forever.
We thank you, God, for feeding us with the body and blood of your son Jesus Christ.
Send us out and through us spread in every place the fragrance of God, for you have made us to be the perfume of Christ: a sweet smell to those who love justice but an irritant to those who despoil the earth and ignore the suffering of the oppressed.