Moravian Church in North America

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The Putz and Illumination

putz1The Putz

As with most Moravian customs, Christ is the center of our Christmas celebration. This is symbolized best by the building of the putz, a depiction of the story of Jesus' birth. A putz can be a simple manger scene. In its most elaborate form, the putz fills a room. The word putz comes from the German word putzen which means to decorate or clean. The manger is always the center of any putz. 

The essence of the putz tradition is found in the way in which each putz is built to tell the Good News of the coming of the Christ Child. It is more than a nativity scene with adoring shepherds. It is the Gospel in miniature from Isaiah's prophecy and Mary's annunciation to the visit of the wisemen and the flight into Egypt. The joy comes in creating the story of the wonder of Christ's birth so that the Son of God can be welcomed into the hearts of the home at the Christmas.

Illumination

Another Moravian custom is the Illumination. This has two meanings. It refers to the custom of putting a lighted candle in each window of the settlement after dark, a custom continued today. It also refers to the illuminated pictures found in some of our churches. The candle in the window is an especially beautiful part of Christmas in the settlements - Salem, Bethlehem, Lititz. History records that in the Herrnhaag (Germany) settlement there were so many candles in the windows that "it appeared from Budingen as though the whole hilltop were a single sea of flames."

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Moravian Daily Texts

04/19/2014

Great Sabbath


Saturday, April 19
— Psalm 51:1-6
Leviticus 13:47-14:18; Mark 4:30-41


The Lord will again comfort Zion. Zechariah 1:17


Christ says, "You too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." John 16:22 (NASB)


Jesus, as we prepare for Easter and the celebration of your resurrection, we should not grieve but rejoice. May we see not just an empty tomb but all the possibilities which will come our way when you return. Amen.

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