One of the schools in our parish is a special education school for children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder or complex learning difficulties.
The seventy KS4 (14-16 year-old) pupils who visited St Nicholas’ church on Monday asked great questions and made fascinating observations.
More than one reported back, ‘I am not a Christian, but I feel very calm and peaceful in this place.’
When asked for their first impressions on coming into the building, some students volunteered that it smelled like Christmas.
It is worth noting that these are not kids who only come to church at Christmas. That is not their reference-point. These are kids who have never before been in a church building, or, in a few cases, have been to a christening once. I don’t think they were implying that the church smelled of turkey and brussel sprouts, or of oranges. I don’t think that they associate the faint lingering ghost of beeswax polish with Christmas, either.
I wonder whether what they smelled was God-with-us (the heart of Christmas), detectable to the hyper-sensory and the trained alike?
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