A Message from The Rector:

Scents, Smells, Memory, and Identity

Our Gospel reading from last week—the Raising of Lazarus from John 11:1-53 has so many themes and so many arresting details. Even though this reading was longer than we are generally used to, the story is cut short and we miss the arc of the action that leads into Holy Week. The story continues into Chapter 12 and Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet with burial oils.

It is the raising of Lazarus that is so shocking and so disruptive that makes the religious authorities decide that Jesus must die—that Jesus’ presence stretches the tenuous working relationship between Jews and Romans so fragile that “it is better that one man die for the people than the whole nation perish.” The high priest Caiaphas fears that Jesus’ presence will foment rebellion and that thousands will die and the Jews will lose the right to worship in the Holy Land, and thus Jesus must be killed. Just a few days later, Jesus is with his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and Mary weeps, kneeling at Jesus’ feet to anoint him with the oils she has bought to prepare his body for burial. Mary can read the writing on the wall: she knows that much as she rejoiced at Jesus’ raising her brother, such a sign has made Jesus too dangerous to live. Jesus will die for bringing her brother back to life.

I had never considered the presence of odor in this passage: the stench of Lazarus’ decaying body, the aroma of the expensive nard, the oil that Mary used. I read many commentaries each week to prepare for the Sunday sermon and want to share with you this extraordinary reflection on the impact and meaning of smell in the raising of Lazarus and the anointing of Jesus.

I’ve copied the sermon below. If you would like to hear Rev. Dr. Winner deliver her message, you will find that here:



A Sweet Smell
Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A
A Sermon for Every Sunday
John 11:1-12:8
Rev. Dr. Lauren Winner

1) Some people’s mothers told them not to talk about religion and politics in public. Well, I grew up in a family where we talked about politics all the time, and my mother told me not to talk about religion or smell in public. Talking about smell, she said, was fundamentally declassee and might make people think about feet.

As a preacher, and a divinity school professor, I’ve generally found it hard to avoid talking about religion in public, but I usually manage the other half of mom’s dictum. And then you get to the middle of the Gospel of John and it’s kind of hard to avoid the topic of olfaction. So, today’s sermon is about smell. And actually, in its way, it is also about feet. So, apologies to my mother who I know is rolling over in her urn.

The house was filled with the fragrance of perfume. The section of the Gospel of John we’re in today is deeply obsessed with smell. We have the story of Lazarus, one of Jesus’s best friends having died. And Jesus pays a graveside visit and orders the stone laid across the cave where Lazarus is buried to be rolled away. “But Lord,” says Lazarus’s sister, Martha, “he’s been in there for four days, so there’s a bad odor,” Or as the King James more piquantly puts it: “He stinketh,” says Martha. But Jesus orders the stone moved away and then he raises Lazarus from the dead. And then let me tell you what happens after that reading. A few verses after that reading, Lazarus throws a dinner party, how we all respond to being resurrected, right? He throws a dinner party, a dinner party that becomes a sensory extravaganza.

2) Martha is there. She is, as usual, serving the dinner. She’s been in the kitchen all day cooking an elaborate lentil stew, an elaborate tray of perogies, baking a three-layer chocolate cake. And as usual her sister Mary is nowhere to be found when Martha is doing all of this cooking. But then here comes Mary. The Gospel of John tells us that she comes bearing a pint of perfume, and her hair is down and tangled, and she bathes Jesus with the perfume. She saturates him. And the whole house is filled with the fragrance, the Gospel tells us.

The perfume Mary used was nard, which smells kind of like Old Spice—a wooded smell, like a forest, or like moss. And nard has not just a particular aroma, but it’s also been thought, both then and now, that nard has particular healing properties. And in particular, both then and now, people have thought nard promoted uterine health. So, this seems sort of odd, maybe.

Why didn’t Mary perfume Jesus with the scent of lemons, a smell that’s thought to produce feelings of peace, or with sandalwood, which is said to cure both dry skin and irritability. Why scent Jesus with a fragrance known to ensure a healthy uterus? It’s a little odd. Or maybe it’s a hint. This perfuming, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John, is a preparation for his death. And the death that Jesus will meet soon after this dinner party is a particular kind of death. It is a death that brings about new life. So, Mary is making Jesus not only perfumed, but reproductively healthy so that he can birth new life for us on the cross. The house was filled with the fragrance of perfume.

It’s not typical for Scripture to speak so extravagantly about smell. Why does the Gospel of John want us to know about the scent of Lazarus’s house, or Mary’s hands and hair, the now woodsy scent of Jesus’ body, the smell of moss?

3) Have you ever noticed how smelling something can trigger a memory? You walk out of your house after the first snow of winter and the scent of that newly fallen snow just takes you back to childhood sledding; or you smell pencil shavings and suddenly you’re sitting in your desk in Mrs. Miller’s fifth grade classroom. Neuroscientists have found that, because of the physical proximity of our olfactory nerve to our amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of our brain that largely control mood and memory, because the olfactory nerve is so close to our mood and memory processors, smell can trigger memories and emotions more powerfully, and more quickly, than hearing or sight or touch. Of course, hearing an old song can summon a memory, but smell does even that more powerfully.

One of the particular emotional responses smell can produce is something psychologists call olfactory comfort. That is the term psychologists give to the way that scent can help calm people who are distressed by the absence of a person they love. “Olfactory comfort.”

That is why, if your beloved is away on a trip, you might sleep in his pajamas. It’s why a nurse in Minnesota, having observed that a child feeling intense separation anxiety is reassured by a garment with his mother’s smell, patented a soft shirt that could be easily converted into a blanket so mom could wear the shirt for a few hours before heading off to work or heading out on a date, and baby, now wrapped in and comforted by her scent, will be less hysterical when his mother steps out the door. Mary is not just preparing Jesus for his death. She is also preparing herself for his death. She’s preparing herself for his absence and for her own grief.

So now whenever she smells nard, whenever Lazarus or Martha smell nard, the scent will trigger a memory, a memory of Jesus. Nard will be marked with his memory and perhaps the scent will soothe them. Years after his death, when his friends smell nard, the scent will, in a way, bring Jesus close. So, Mary is not just preparing Jesus for his death. She’s also preparing herself.

4) Now this whole passage from the raising of Lazarus to this dinner party and nard anointing, this whole passage in the Gospel of John is one of the last discussions of smell in the Bible, but it’s not the absolute last reference to smell.

A few books later, in his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul will write a phrase that is very familiar to some of us. I’m an Episcopalian and we use this phrase from Paul in the Episcopal Church all the time.

“Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to God.” To me this is a familiar verse because this is the verse that Episcopal priests usually quote halfway through our Sunday service as we pivot from the scripture readings and the sermon to the Eucharist. Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, etc. This is Ephesians 5:2.

But, for reasons I have been completely unable to discover, Episcopal priests never quote the whole verse. The whole verse actually says: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” Or, as another translation has it: “Walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God, into an aroma of a sweet smell.” Priests never quote the whole thing. It’s possible my mother got to them. Well, what was the sweet smell?

Probably Paul means it metaphorically. He means to connect Jesus’ sacrifice to all the Old Testament sacrifices of incense which, Exodus and Leviticus are always telling us, were acceptable to God because they smelled so lovely. But I want to read Paul a little less metaphorically. I want to say it was the nard. The sweet-smelling savor was that pint of nard in which Mary had lately bathed Jesus.

5) We know that on the cross Jesus felt alone. We know he had been abandoned by some of his dearest friends. And we know that on the cross he cried out in dereliction, sensing that he’d been abandoned even by God the Father. Maybe on the cross, the aroma of nard called to mind Mary and Lazarus. Maybe the aroma soothed him and made him feel less alone.

And then there is another use of smell, even later in the Bible. This is in Revelation, the very last book of the Bible, where the writer says that the prayers of the saints are golden bowls full of incense. It’s an arresting image. When you pray, your prayers are incense, and your body, the vessel of the prayer, is a golden bowl.

Some years ago, my friend Robert died. About 14 months after his death, Robert’s widow, Maisie, asked me to keep her company while she sorted through his clothes. She was giving some of them to their nephews, and some to Goodwill, but she was keeping his shirts, the button-down oxford shirts he’d worn every day to his office. Maisie now wore them herself, to sleep in, or to run errands, and she swore that she could still smell Robert in those shirts over a year after he died.

Smell is haunted by absence. The baby longing for his mother, the widow pining for her mate. Smell keeps us close to one another in our absence.

I left Maisie’s house thinking, maybe in her way, Maisie is a picture of God. Maybe we should picture God as a widow. God’s beloved spouse has been taken away, and God mourns. The funeral happens on a Tuesday. There are the casseroles and the sympathetic notes. God receives a few visits and phone calls, from angels, perhaps. Although some of the angels stay away because they “don’t want to impose.” And then a few weeks pass, and the angels forget and go back to their seraphic business, of singing hymns and delivering messages and mending their robes, and God is left alone in God’s grief. God is beside Himself with the separation. And God puts on the robe God’s beloved had always worn, and God’s grief is eased a bit by the smell.

6) That is what our absence feels like to God. Those hours and days or sometimes years when we are far off and ignore God, when we remain at a distance, this absence is not philosophical and abstract, it’s real and present to God. And so, we come together on Sunday to pray. Or by ourselves, tonight or tomorrow or the day after that, we return to God in prayer.

And our prayers are incense. They smell like moss, or like the floor of a forest. God is grieved by our absence, but our incense-prayers soothe him.
The house was filled with the fragrance of perfume.

—Lauren Winner © 2023

Instructed Eucharist 2.0: Rich Tradition, Layered Meanings – Bowing at the Name of Jesus

St. Paul says that “at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow” (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11). Some people bow, usually lowering their heads rather than bending their knees, when Jesus’ name is spoken when they are standing or kneeling. (One does not usually bow when sitting.) Bowing is a way of proclaiming Jesus is Lord, showing that respect and love with body in motion. 

During the Nicene Creed, some people bow during the words that describe Jesus becoming flesh and blood (“incarnate from the Virgin Mary and made human”), honoring the Holy One’s humility in taking on human flesh. Some people also bow at the words “worshiped and glorified.” When reciting a dense profession of faith, many find it helpful to punctuate word-ideas with motions, motions that become signposts in our weekly “journey” through the Creed.

Bowing is also a way to collect our thoughts and hearts in the work of the liturgy. You will see members of the altar party bowing at various points in the service. As the altar party processes in, the crucifer—the person carrying the cross—will stop in the chancel in front of the middle of the altar. The others in the altar party will gather to the right and left, and when all are still, those not carrying anything heavy or a flame will make “reverence,” a short formal bow at the altar. This same reverence is tradition whenever crossing in front of the altar. It is not mandatory: a friend who was diligently bowing while setting up the sanctuary was told on the twentieth or so bow in a friendly whisper, “It’s okay—He knows you’re here!” The Celebrant and the Server bow to each other as the water, wine, and bread are passed between them as the table is set as a sign of servanthood and wordless thanks—and as a way to indicate that the person receiving the elements has a firm grip and the other person can let go.

There are four points during the Eucharist prayer when the celebrant and altar party may bow at the altar out of reverence and to punctuate the words of the prayers: at the Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy”), rising at the Benedictus (“Blessed is the one…”), at the Words of Institution (“he took bread…and wine…blessed, gave thanks…”), and at the Great Amen which concludes the Eucharistic Prayer and leads to the Lord’s Prayer.

In addition to the altar party, you may also see people in the pews bowing at these moments, a personal piety that connects them to the key moments of the work of the Eucharist. Many congregations have traditions or customaries of when they bow, especially to ensure cohesion of movement for the altar party. In many churches there are parishioners who will genuflect, literally bending their knee in a small curtsy as they enter or leave the pews. In the end, though, bowing is a resource to enhance worship, not a mandate, a movement made to increase our connection to the Holy One by adding motion, meaning, and echoes of key scripture passages with the words and music of the liturgy. Ours truly is a sensual liturgy that crafts and proclaims meaning through our ears, eyes, and bodies, as well as through our senses of smell and taste with candles, incense, anointing oil, and the Eucharistic feast.


Tuesday 4:30 p.m. In-Person & 6:30 p.m. Zoom Bible Studies & Lenten Readings

There are two Bible studies: one that meets at 4:30 in Hamilton Hall, the other meets by Zoom at 6:30. Click here for the Zoom link. You can also find the Zoom link on the bottom of the last page of the St. Andrew’s website. On April 4 the groups will discuss Chapter 3 of The Last Week.

It’s Pysanky Egg Time!

We had so much fun making Ukrainian Easter eggs at St. Andrew’s last year, and our Easter Egg tree on Easter Sunday was beautiful. All are invited to St. Andrew’s second season of making pysanky eggs: the dye pots are ready, the kistka wax holders, candles, and beeswax are in good shape, we have plenty of paper towels, and there are table cloths protecting the tables. We have also added some German dye pots that make plaid eggs (and don’t use any wax) if the Ukrainian style doesn’t suit you. Sign up for any of these times—and we can add more. Just get in touch with Rev. Jen and we’ll add more. Wednesday, March 29 from 4:00-6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 30 from 4:00-6:00 p.m., and Sunday, April 2 from 12:00-1:45 p.m. 8 people is a good number, although there there is wiggle room. It is probably best to allow 2 hours for a leisurely creation. For other hours, contact Rev. Jen at: priest@standrewsgreencastle@gmail.com or text her at (937) 631-1563.
Needed for this year’s pysanky creations:
Spring shrub blossoms
Do you have any shrubs that are early bloomers like prunus, forsythia, witch hazel or pussy willow? We need boughs to force for at-home Easter egg trees, and for an Easter egg tree in the sanctuary.
Are you egg-eaters? We need the empty shells!
If you prepare quiche, egg casseroles, scrambled eggs, omelets, I can lend you an egg blower so that you can save the shells for dying. The blowers are easy to use, and you can use the eggs for many dishes. Let me know and I’ll get them to you.

Summer Enrichment Program

For over three decades, the Summer Enrichment Program in Putnam County has provided a safe haven for children with identified risk factors. SEP is a 5-week summer day camp for approximately 60 children in grades 1-5. They take swimming lessons, experience music and the arts, go to the library and the Nature Park, go on field trips, play indoor and outdoor games, and learn important social and emotional skills. The children also have nutritious meals and are given take home weekend food packages. E-Mail Address: putnamsummerenrich@gmail.com
If you would like to sponsor a child, you may wish to send a donation to: Summer Enrichment Program, P.O. Box 66, Greencastle, IN 46135.

Connect With Us

Sunday Worship Online Streaming

We have upgraded our Sunday worship online streaming option.

  • First, we have invested in an internet camera that allows for better picture quality and improved sound. This should make for a better viewing and listening experience with a markable improvement in hearing the full range of our music.

  • Secondly, we are moving away from streaming through Zoom and moving to Facebook Live. We originally chose Zoom for our online worship during Covid due to the collaborative nature that Zoom provides. With our move back to in person Sunday worship, Facebook will allow us to provide a better one-way delivery of our service. We can now Live Stream the service to you, our parishioners, and also make it friendlier for visitors to discover us and worship with us online.

  • Lastly, with our move to Facebook, this will allow us to record and distribute our worship service online in a much more efficient process. This will only benefit St. Andrew’s online presence. The St. Andrew’s Facebook Page will now seamlessly host all of our recorded services for us to view at our leisure. This also provides you the opportunity to share or invite others to discover and worship with us.

You will find our worship service being streamed from our Facebook Page or continue to go to St. Andrew’s website and be redirected from the link on the front page.

Rector’s Office Drop-In Time

Rev. Jen has set her office drop-in day as Wednesday of each week from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. for anyone who would like to stop in and visit. You are always invited to make an appointment for a time convenient for you. Mondays are her Sabbath day.

The Sunday of The Passion: Palm Sunday

Sunday Morning In-Person Worship Service, April 2, led by Rev. Dr. Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, 10:15 a.m. At 10:00, the youth will process around church with candles, incense, holy water, and palms. They’ll return to the sanctuary at 10:15. All congregants will have palms and resume the procession singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” then move into the Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday liturgy.

You can stream the service via St. Andrew’s Facebook Page. Click on this link to view the Live Stream. We will start the Live Stream at 10:10 a.m.

Click here for the service booklet for April 2.

The Latest Updates


Holy Thursday-6:00 p.m., Good Friday-6:00 p.m., Holy Saturday Morning-10:00 a.m., Easter Vigil Saturday-8:30 p.m., Easter Sunday-10:15 a.m.


Hallelujahs will ring out as we continue to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection following a joyous Easter service with our traditional Easter egg hunt for the children and a pitch-in brunch at Coffee Hour. The F & F crew will be serving up bubbly mimosas and will also provide a main course (ham). Everyone else, please bring your favorite/best brunch dish to share and filled Easter eggs to hide for the hunt!


On March 14 we began discussing Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan’s The Last Week. This book details Jesus’ life from his triumphal ride into Jerusalem to the cross, and will be excellent preparation for the events of Holy Week. On April 4 both groups will discuss Chapter 3. The Zoom link can be found on the St. Andrew’s website at the very bottom of the last page.


We give thanks for the wedding of Laura Mail and Joshua Herr on Saturday, April 1, 2023!


We ask that you review those names listed on the Ongoing Prayer List and let us know of any additions, deletions, or updates. We will be reviewing this quarterly moving forward.


The Diocese is offering training for people to become Lay Eucharistic Visitors (LEV). This training licenses you to take the blessed sacrament to those who cannot come to church, including residents of The Waters. It is a wonderful way to be church! Trainings are on June 17 and September 7. Please consider being a LEV! Contact the Rev. Mary Taflinger at taflinger@indiodio.org with questions. Register here.


Forward Movement Day by Day devotionals are available in the Narthex. They are an easy way to take on a Lenten practice, reading a reflection and a prayer each day.


The new link can be found on the St. Andrew’s website at the bottom of the last page. Click on the Zoom icon to join as an attendee.


Once a month Sunday services have resumed at The Waters. The next service will be Easter Sunday, April 9 at 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. If you’d like to help with this ministry in any way, please contact Rev. Jen or Renee. All are welcome to attend!


We continue to respond to both our county’s current CDC designation and to the current variant. Masking is optional. Those who serve bread and wine will mask so that anyone who comes to the altar can feel secure. Decisions on COVID policy have moved from the Reconvening Committee to Rev. Jen and the Wardens.

Prayers and Reflections for This Week

We have heard that the daily reflections and scripture readings provided during Lent were appreciated. The meditations are written by persons from Gobin UMC and Beech Grove UMC. They will be in the newsletter each week and go from Wednesday to Tuesday, except for Sunday. Whether you enjoy these every day or as the Spirit moves you, may this resource continue to bring you spiritual food for the journey. Blessings!

Click here to view the readings and accompanying links.

Non Food Pantry Latest

Saturday, April 29

• Noon to 3:00 p.m.
There will be a drive through distribution and sack lunches will be served. We are very grateful to Kate Berry, Martha Rainbolt, Carl Huffman, Karen Hirt Mannon, and Christiane Wisehart who have worked very hard to obtain supplies for the Non-Food Pantry. Kroger is not able to acquire enough products for us so the items are being purchased from a variety of sources. This is much more expensive. Donations to help offset this extra cost will be gratefully accepted!

Top 3 Needed Items
  • Menstrual Pads
  • Tampons

  • Incontinence (Poise) Underwear – all sizes

Your prayers are asked for:

Haile Bane, grandson of Joanne Haymaker
The family of Gary Barcus, friend of Joanne Haymaker
Beth Benedix, friend to many of us at Saint Andrew’s
Douglas Butler, brother-in-law of Claudia Butler
Richard A. Butler, father-in-law of Claudia Butler
Adam Cohen, friend of St. Andrew’s
Family & friends of Michael Condra
Norm Crampton, former member
The family of Mark Einwich, friend of Joanne Haymaker
The family of Bernice Emrick, mother of Karen Hirt Mannon
Bob Fatzinger, brother of Barbara Pare
Nancy Ferriani, friend of Warren & Connie Macy
Katie Gleichman, relative of Jim Ensley
Alan & Vickie Good, father of Tim Good
David Grueber, stepson of Scott Kissinger
Kimberly Heithaus, niece of Joe & Jenny Heithaus
Lisa Breese Kincaid, daughter of Bob & Mimi Breese
Mary Mountz
Tom Mullen, father of Patti Harmless
Emmanuel Myril, Karen Hirt Mannon’s son-in-law’s father
Sarah Oldstone, sister-in-law of Jen+
Pamela & Linda
Gordon Redden
Elizabeth & Natalie Sheffler, daughter & granddaughter of Page & Narda Cotton
Gloria Smith
Skip Sutton
Jerry Taylor, friend of Warren & Connie Macy
Beth Thoenen, friend of Jen+
Sydnor Thompson, brother of Harriet Moore

Diocesan Cycle of Prayer: St. John’s Church, Lafayette: The Rev. Dr. Bradley Pace, Vicar In Charge; The Rev. Jason Fortner, Curate.

Our companion dioceses: The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil: The Most Rev. Mauricio Jose Araujo De Andrade, Primate of Brazil and Bishop of Brasilia. The people and Diocese of Haiti and Saint Andre’s in Mithon.

Anglican Cycle of Prayer: The Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan.

Birthdays: None.

Anniversaries: None.

Special Events and Services

Print Friendly, PDF & Email