There is a lot of evidence, in science and literature to suggest that we are all connected to one another in ways unseen by what we can perceive with our eyes alone: Everything from studies in quantum physics, to poetry by Rumi, to Native American spirituality, to the Gospel stories all point to this aspect of our reality that we are not entirely separate human beings affected only by physical changes in our environment. On the contrary our thoughts, emotions and prayers affect one another.
Recently, I was watching with joy and amazement my friends’ one year old daughter take her first steps; from the outstretched arms of her mother still holding her hands to the outstretched arms of her father a few feet away. As she let go and took the three steps required to reach her father she exhaled the word Dada. We clapped for her, raised our voices collectively to cheer her. All of us smiled simultaneously. Now walking is not so amazing a thing in itself. But a child’s first steps, first words, first everything gives us so much delight! A child would not learn these things without someone teaching them. We are taught to speak by other human beings speaking to us. We could not survive nor come into being without other human beings.
Beyond survival our actions, our thoughts, our emotions affect other human beings. It can be difficult to see this in a culture and environment that reinforces the idea that we are nothing more than a bundle of desires to be fulfilled, a culture that rewards and encourages competition, greed, and consumerism; even violence If we could begin to see that compassion, connection and cooperation are just as innate as our desire for more, or our striving to better ourselves, we would encounter things like peace, harmony, and contentment.
Sometimes people think of spirituality as an individual and ultimately private pursuit. But I suspect that this is missing the point of communal worship entirely. Sometimes you hear people say, “I am spiritual but not religious”. I’m not sure that is even possible.
Our prayers, our singing, our kneeling together effects us; one to another; and dare I say, beyond those present, even those who have gone before us in the communion of saints. Everything about the worship service points to this reality. Nothing more profoundly than when we receive communion. There we physically, emotionally and spiritually enact that we are connected to Jesus, within and all around each of us.
It will help if we sit in closer proximity. Sit, stand, kneel within the energy field of others. Sing and pray close enough to hear not only our own voice and the organ, but hear ourselves singing and praying with those around us. The choir already experiences the power of voices blended together. Indeed in so doing, they also breathe together. Studies have shown that while a choir is singing together heartbeats synchronize to one another.
My hope is that we can maximize our sense of Christian community and connectedness, not only in our welcoming of newcomers, or as friends talk-ing over a cup of coffee, (which is its own wonder-ful energy and sharing), but as people united by our calling to follow Jesus Christ. United and in-tentional in a spirit of prayer, love for one another, and in communion with one another.