...there's a sort of mysterious glue. Say, you're at a sporting event and there is a marvelous variety of people and yet you feel a kinship with all of them because you are pulling for the same team. Or you are serving on a mission project with a number of people you've just met and yet you feel bound to them because you are working toward the same goal. You can't see it. You may not even be keenly aware of it. But it's there. A something that unites. A something you can't manufacture. But you experience it. And it usually leaves an impression on you. Moves you in some way. Maybe even shifts how you look at other people. Or work. Or life in general.
In a sermon penned by a younger version of Barbara Brown Taylor the mystery is named. She calls it conspiracy. We've done the word a disservice by linking it to underhanded, behind the scenes plotting to undermine or undo or overthrow something established, accepted, or normative. Taylor would have us remember that the word simply means to breathe together. Yes, to conspire is to breathe with others. She points out that we can find the word "spirit" in it: "to be filled with the same spirit, to be enlivened by the same wind." And it's an amazing experience. With her peculiarly Christian slant Taylor claims, "What happens between us when we come together to worship God is that the Holy Spirit swoops in and out among us, knitting us together through the songs we sing, the prayers we pray, the breaths we breathe." Ever thought of that on a Sunday morning?
During this pandemic the experience of breathing together has been fraught with danger. Masks inhibit the amount of the air that's been lurking inside us from getting too close to the nostrils of someone beside us. We even avoid the togetherness part because the breathing part is essential to our survival. But curiously so is the being with part. That much we have surely learned during the pandemic. How can we continue to feel a connection to others if we don't share time and space and breath together?
It's been clear throughout human history as told in the Scriptures that God intends us to be a bound-together people rather than individuals dotting the landscape. In the two slices of Scripture we'll enjoy in worship this Sunday something happens when people congregate and conflate and conspire. A mysterious glue and a Holy Spirit too. And even much more! Conspiring, connecting, conversing... so many good things from so many "cons"!