A Last Lesson of a School Year: the Aroma of Pizza

We are finally at the time of year where summer is sitting on the edge of the bed, waiting to hop off and come back into our lives for a well-timed visit. In Lutheran schools everywhere, students, staff, and faculty are making the mad dash toward the finish line. This includes securing funding, resetting for the next year, making sure grades are in, and lots of end-of-year classroom celebrations.

Pizza Day Memories

One of my fondest memories of end-of-year celebrations that happened both in parochial and public school was Pizza Day. Throughout the year, we would have teachers promise to buy pizza for everyone who lined up correctly, or did well on an assignment, or read a certain number of books, or didn’t cheat in Heads Up Seven Up. Pizza Day was the extrinsic reward of all rewards, and our teachers held it up in what seemed like a perpetual existence.

Once Pizza Day came, as a student you were on edge. When will it get here? Who will be first in line? Which pizzeria are they going to? Are we getting the big, full-sized pizzas, or is my teacher going to cut it in half? We remained excited from the morning time, all the way up to when lunchtime and our free period finally arrived. We would not even need to look to see if the pizza had arrived, we knew it by just the smell. The smell of cheese, oregano, garlic, and sauce would waft down the hallways long before the delivery person arrived with boxes stacked high. That smell GOT YOU!

The Aroma of Christ

Certain smells from childhood cannot be lost. For me, it was pizza. I am certain you can think of similar ones of your own. This was true in the New Testament as well. There were smells that a person living in Roman-conquered societies just could not forget. In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul makes a smell-focused parallel to the Roman triumphal procession. This was a procession full of smells ranging from the musk of celebrated generals and horse poop to incense and lots of people. It was strongly tied to the people in Corinth’s memories. The writer, Paul, goes on to parallel Christ’s triumphal procession, not as a celebration of self, but one that “spreads the knowledge of Him everywhere” as verse 14 describes.

In verse 15, we find our task as educators who are informed and motivated by the Gospel. 2 Corinthians 2:15–16 states:

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”

A Fragrance that Points Others to Christ

We are Pizza Day in the lives of those we touch on earth. God gives us this power in Christ, from whom our competence comes, to go out and spread the Gospel as a fragrant aroma that gets caught in the noses of those longing for a fresh breath of air. Our call is to be of service to those who are being saved and to those who are perishing. God calls us to both—without discrimination. This gives us pause, coming to the close of a year, to think on how we are accomplishing our mission. Are we staying focused? Are we rooted in the Word and putting it first to inform us? Are we open to God’s guidance? Do our students recognize our commitment to Christ and see life with Him so lived by their experience after encountering us? These things are what we reflect on at the end of the year!

As we continue to do the necessary steps to abide by government regulations and transition out of the worst of the pandemic, there are many who have lost or had a diminished sense of smell due to COVID-19. How pertinent that we recognize what a blessing God gave us in our sense of smell, but even so the greater, how it is to be the aroma of Christ in the world. Our Lord tasks us to live this out and follow His lead, as we waft around our communities, churches, families, and our world. May the aroma of Christ precede you now and forevermore!

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Picture of Deaconess Janine Bolling
Janine Bolling is a Brooklyn-born-and-reared Millennial who is passionate about practical education and connecting people with resources. She works full-time as an admissions recruiter for SUNY, part-time as an adjunct professor of theology at Concordia College New York, and part-time as deaconess at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Brooklyn. The rest of her time is spent in EdD studies at Concordia University Wisconsin in the Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement Program and with family and friends. Janine is a foodie and WILL fight you about why New York pizza is better than all other pizzas.

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