Editor’s note: Yes, this is the kind of story I’d typically select for November or December. However, when I read Sue Koenig’s description of Graceham Moravian Church’s Christmas event this year—and the planning time it took to make it happen – I thought it would be a good add for now to get others thinking about it. Enjoy!—Mike
In July of last year, members of the Graceham Moravian Church met to begin planning A Moravian Christmas Homecoming. Mike and Myra Miller envisioned an “open house” to which members and their guests, and people from the community, would come for an afternoon of hands-on learning about Moravian Christmas traditions, and provide an opportunity to get acquainted with the Moravians.
Mike and Myra, who have a heart for evangelism, wanted to involve as many people as possible from the congregation, and encourage them to invite others to participate. There would be something for every age group to learn, experience and enjoy.
The Millers offered the gift of their home for the event which was held on Saturday, December 8. Each room of their three-story, handicapped-accessible home, the porch and the garage, were “learning centers” decorated in a Moravian motif. Twenty-four docents, teens and adults, some in Moravian attire, welcomed visitors and enthusiastically explained the symbols, traditions and activities in their assigned area. Other members baked sugarcake and cookies. An extensive collection of Moravian artifacts was assembled from among the personal collections of the Millers, members of the congregation and from the church.
Moravian brass music played to greet visitors as they approached the front door of the Miller home. In the entrance hall and sitting area of the living room, visitors received a brief overview of Moravian history, and what to expect as they were directed from room to room. On the first floor, 18th century trombones from the church were on display, along with a desktop putz in the study; large Moravian stars of various styles were presented in a bedroom where several teens told the history of Moravian stars. Moravian china inscribed with the words of the Moravian blessing and motto, an Advent wreath, a Chrismon tree with handmade ornaments and a paper Moravian star treetop, awaited visitors in the dining area.
Moravian sugarcake and beverages were served with gracious hospitality in the kitchen, and then it was off to the adjoining garage to discover how Moravian candles are made. The lovely fragrance of beeswax greeted visitors who watched experienced candlemakers pour melted beeswax into metal molds strung with wicks, and then carefully remove the candles from the molds. Everyone was invited to do a bit of polishing of the newly-pulled candles.
Upstairs, docents explained the feather and pyramid trees, made by Mike Miller, and decorated with Moravian Christmas symbols created by Myra Miller; a woven quilt made in Graceham in 1835; and old children’s toys. There were trees trimmed with tiny Moravian stars, afghans, books, handcrafted dolls, paintings and photographs, and a child’s baptismal gown, all placed in nooks and crannies, across beds and stair railings, to the delight of all who came. A video recording of children from the congregation singing Morning Star provided an inspiring background.
Children were “right at home,” on the lower level, where they were invited to make wooly sheep, create a bookmark with Moravian symbols, and dress in traditional 18th century Moravian attire for picture-taking in front of a real Cookie Tree. Other members shared lots of smiles and laughter while demonstrating folding Moravian stars and trimming candles.
Members from Covenant Moravian in York, Pa, and Castleton Hill Moravian, Staten Island, were among those who came to visit. At the conclusion of their Moravian Christmas Homecoming tour, everyone received a hearty and heart-felt “thank you,” a trimmed Moravian candle in a silver clip candleholder, and an invitation to the congregation’s Christmas services.
Sharing Christ’s love and hospitality was at the heart of A Moravian Christmas Homecoming. It was a joy for the Graceham congregation to share the deep meaning of our Christmas symbols and traditions, and to welcome others home to the Moravian Church.
The Rev. Sue Koenig is pastor of Graceham Moravian Church in Thurmont, Md.
From the April 2013 Moravian Magazine