November 13, 2022: The Chief Elder Festival

moravian seal class window

Festival of Christ the Chief Elder

The Chief Elder Festival

On this day in 1741, it was announced to all Moravian congregations that Jesus Christ had been chosen as the Chief Elder of the Moravian Church. Since that time, no human has assumed this position. It has become a festival day around the globe in Moravian congregations. At Central Church we celebrate with both a lovefeast and communion.

The Gospel lesson for this festival is John 10:1–10. This passage has Jesus talking about sheep that will follow their shepherd and no one else. Jesus does not identify as the shepherd at this point but rather as the gate of the fold. All those who would enter in would be saved and go in and out and find pasture.

The passage in Ezekiel 34 also talks about sheep. It tells of God seeking all the lost sheep—the ones that were cast out of Israel. God says that he will find the sheep and give them a shepherd like David. These passages are closely related. God and Jesus want us to enter God’s fold, be saved, and live life abundantly.

Having no experience with sheep, I picture in my head the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where God is stretching out his hand to Adam, who is reaching up to God. I see this as what God wants of us. God’s love and grace are freely given to all who ask for it. God wants all of us to have his grace, love, and forgiveness.

“How great a bliss to be a sheep of Jesus.” This hymn floats into my mind as I read these Scriptures.  I wish you God’s joy on this festival day.


Martha Griffis, Central Moravian Church
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania