28th June 2024

Boiled cabbage! The smell of boiled cabbage permeated the whole of a Baptist church. Not a very pleasant smell and hardly conducive to worship! I had gone there, as a child, with my parents and that is my abiding memory of it. This was during the war and the church had opened a canteen in its hall behind the church, hence the smell. I went there again very many years later and the smell had long since disappeared – but I did remember!

On foreign holidays I have often gone to look inside churches and cathedrals. Very often the first thing to strike me is again a smell, not boiled cabbage, but incense. For many worshippers incense assists their worship, symbolising the purifying of the air in the building and allowing prayers to ascend to heaven.

Incense and boiled cabbage – two symbols of the role of the church – welcoming and serving the local community and worshipping God. Or, to put it another way, ‘Open to God, Open for all’.

David T Roberts