On two Saturdays, two small groups of young leaders worked to understand Psalm 133. Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes the first line of Psalm 133 as the first line of Life Together. That’s his book from 1939, describing a way to approach Christian community. Because it was written from his experience leading an illegal seminary in Nazi Germany, Bonhoeffer is credible in teaching about building community when it isn’t easy.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
That how both the book and the psalm start. Bonhoeffer describes how to foster unity. The psalm writer gives a couple images of how good and pleasant it is.
In our groups, part of what we call Made Up Grad School (MUGS), we talked about both the book and the psalm. Here, we’ll just talk about the psalm.
First, the writer says that the unity is like the oil used in anointing a priest.
Second, the writer says that the unity is like the dew that found on a high mountain near an ocean coast.
After reading this psalm a couple times out loud, I asked the groups what they thought. They did what most of us do. They made observations, they asked questions, they started looking for applications.
But what if it’s not about application as much as awe?
Imagine Aaron standing right in front of you. Moses brings oil, prepared according to a recipe from God. It’s used only for occasions where someone is set apart to lead God’s people in worship. It smells of myrrh and cinnamon and a couple other aromatic spices.
As Moses pours it on Aaron’s head, enough that it runs down on his beard, the room is full of the scent and the uniqueness. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime scent and experience.
And, the psalmist says, that’s what it’s like when there is unity.