BY REV. CORY KEMP |
On August 13, 1727, after conversations with Count Zinzendorf regarding their future as residents, the people of Herrnhut gathered for worship and felt a renewed spiritual unity among themselves.
Where there had been divisions, disagreements, and discouragement about their Christian mission, there was now more warmth, open-mindedness, and hope to continue to serve God together. Sharing a spontaneous meal on the church grounds, a true lovefeast, helped strengthen that bond.
Little did they know they were including us in their celebration.
John put the proper frame around this moment that both challenged and comforted the community: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I John 4: 7-8
Choosing mutual love with God and with each other is simple.
We know what it looks like: patience; kindness; generosity; gentleness; faithfulness; self-control. Loving God comes with expressing these and forgiving when they slip away and we choose something more expedient that serves our own needs. Forgiving ourselves, allowing God’s love to anchor us, means we can begin again, knowing God’s love remains in us and continues to work through us.
Living this kind of love is not always easy.
It is often complicated, messy, unpredictable, confusing, and just plain difficult. Considering what those first settlers in Herrnhut had fled, they also gave up the only home they had known. Safety is a powerful draw, even over rough terrain and fear of the unknown. The freedom to live their faith away from the decades of war preceding their departure was a welcome hope.
So, they kept choosing love.
Enough of the Herrnhut population stayed with the community under Zinzendorf’s guidance and direction to continue its work, initiate the modern missionary movement, and found congregations around the world. The structures of daily living took commitment, strength, compromise, and perseverance. What they created and handed down to us also took tremendous love. This kind of love took the best they had to offer each day. That best wasn’t always the same, but God’s is, and that is everything.
We keep choosing love too.
With all its complications, messiness, conflicts, confusion and difficulties, love is well worth the effort. Believing that, that is what it takes to continue the work, be in this centuries-long relationship with God that we call the Moravian Church.
Grant Lord that with thy direction
Love each other we comply,
Aiming with unfeigned affection
Thy love to exemplify.
Let our mutual love be glowing
Thus, the world will plainly see
that we as on one stem growing
Living branches are in thee.
About the author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.