Christmas Bazaars are not a new invention around our congregations. Many a fellowship hall are filled with professional and amateur craft venders displaying decorations and gift ideas for this sacred season of Advent. Indeed, these kinds of events can be lucrative fundraisers for congregations as they supplement their income with these worthwhile events. It makes complete sense.
So, it was surprising to me the first time I visited the Christmas Bazaar at First Moravian Church of Easton, PA. As I entered the fellowship hall, I was met with not only an array of colorful fall and Christmas gifts and ornaments, but also the smell of delicious homemade goodies and luncheon choices. (Let me tell you that the homemade barbeque baked beans are to die for!!!) I confess, as I toured around all the tables filled with beautiful hand-crafted items, one of the things that immediately caught my eye was the price! Everything was priced so affordably….hardly what you would expect from a church fundraiser. Ornaments for $1…..wonderful gift items for only a couple of dollars…..really beautiful decorative lights for $5…..and then there was the food! For a couple of dollars, one could get an entire lunch! (Did I mention the homemade barbequed baked beans?!)
I ran into one of the congregational leaders, Sister Dawn Hughes, and I could not help but mention that these beautiful crafts and delicious food items could easily bring in a lot more money for their congregational fund-raiser if they would but raise their prices to a more reasonable level. Dawn smiled and then graciously and gently began to explain that I was missing their purpose. Although they would likely make a modest amount from the event, mainly on food sales (Remind me to mention the homemade barbeque baked beans!), it’s “soul purpose” was not to raise funds for the congregation, but rather to raise the spirits of their neighborhood. So many in their neighborhood are on fixed income and many are dealing with the struggles of being a single income family. In such cases, there are most often not enough household funds to afford the small pleasures of Christmas decorations let alone the luxury of affordable Christmas gifts. “So, this is what we do for our neighborhood, so they can enjoy Christmas just a little better than they likely could otherwise,” she explained with a thoughtful smile. I was then stirred deeply, as I watched people slowly moving about the tables selecting an item here and there, the sound of mere coins changing hands in most cases. It is aptly named their Christmas Bazaar….because it demonstrates how wonderfully bazaar “grace-filled generosity” can become when offered in Christ’s name.
I have since returned to this annual event whenever I can. There is something about it that readies my soul for this sacred season of discovering holiness in the most unusual ways and places…..not so unlike following stars to birth-laden stables. What the sneakered saints of First Moravian Church of Easton have taught me…..is that sometimes “Friend-Raisers” are just as lucrative as fund-raisers. And oh my…..those homemade baked beans!!!
On behalf of the Eastern District Executive Board, I extend our appreciation for another year of ministry partnership with the Eastern District congregations. May this Advent season prepare us all for a blessed and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Board of World Mission of the Moravian Church North America
Advent is a season of preparation. While we are busy decorating our homes for the Christmas celebration, stocking up on candy canes and double checking our Christmas gift and wish lists, Advent invites us to slow down and ponder the approaching gift of the Christ child. We often disparage commercialism for robbing Christmas of its true meaning, but perhaps our own nostalgia gets in the way as well. The season of Advent invites us to set all of that aside and simply ponder the gift that we are about to receive in Jesus, the Christ. This represents God’s mission of establishing a daily and everlasting relationship with all of humanity. It is God’s reaching out to us in love, mercy, grace, and peace. John 3:16 explains God’s motivation: “For God so loved the world that he gave….”
The season of Advent also invites us to ponder how we can give to others in Jesus’ name. We live in a world that is begging for God’s love and at the Board of World Mission, we feel we are all journeying together in God’s mission, and that as we respond together to the call to mission, we want to help bring people “IN” so we can encourage, equip, and empower them to go “OUT”. We wish each of you a very blessed celebration of the Advent and Christmas season.
Starting early January, Crossroads Lay Leadership Program is offering two of their Unpacking the Scriptures courses. These eight-week long courses are two of their most practical skill building learning experiences. Discipleship begins Jan 3 with Pam Weiss who directs the small group activities in a large congregation. Her experience is incredible with how to build groups and with different types of groups. Pam is a graduate of Moravian Theological Seminary and her classes are both fun and challenging.
Also starting that week, on January 7, is Teaching with the Rev. Roberta Kearney who is both an educator and a pastor. Roberta brings years of parish teaching experience to this course. She will expand your knowledge of how to teach, how to relate to different age groups, adult education and much, much more.
For more details including the exact class times and dates, snow dates, how to register or get your questions answered at:
While you are there check out our Spring courses: Traveling Mercies (Caring Ministries) with the Rev. Maggie Wellert and Preaching with the Rev. Sue Pizor Yoder. All of our instructors are passionate about their subjects and bring so much experience to their classes.
Plans are underway for our 2019 Graduation in May and the return of our Summer Book Club.
Contact Jill Peters for more information at [email protected]
All of our courses are offered in Zoom, a real time, distance learning format. Be a full class participant from wherever you live.
Moravian Music Foundation Schedule of Events
Dec. 5-Bethlehem Municipal Band Concert. Wednesday at 7:30 pm, Moravian Village, 526 Wood St, Bethlehem, PA. Free. http://cityband.org
Dec 10-Contemplative Worship Service in the Chapel, 7:00 p.m.; Central Moravian Church, 73 West Church Street, Bethlehem, PA; 610-866-5661; www.centralmoravianchurch.org Contemplative worship is an informal setting in which we quiet ourselves in order to be open to the presence of God. Experience an hour of quiet and reflective Christmas music. Free.
Dec 19-Bethlehem Municipal Band Concert. Wednesday at 7:30 pm, Foy Hall, South Campus, Moravian College. Free.
MMFA to Begin New Investment Partnership with Abbot Downing
Abbot Downing, the ultra-high-net-worth investment arm of Wells Fargo, will be the go-forward investment partner for the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America (MMFA). “Our relationship with Abbot Downing will give us access to investment options that are not available to most individuals or congregations who invest outside of the buying power of the Moravian Common Fund,” said MMFA President and CEO Chris Spaugh. “Abbot Downing is well-positioned to meet our future needs as well as our present ones.” The decision came following an extensive review and bid process by the MMFA Board of Trustees. Click here to read Frequently Asked Questions.
The Daily Texts are in! Now is the time to place your order to get the 2019 edition before January 1. Cost are: paperback- $10.50; Hardcover- $15; Journal- $16; Large Print- $13. Also available in Spanish, French and German.
Looking for something new? The IBOC now carries PopSocket Cell Phone Grips, 500-Piece Puzzles, and beautiful Moravian Star Suncatchers.
Log onto: https://store.moravian.org/or connect with Jill Bruckart at 610-867-0593 ext. 38 to get yours today.
Br. Brian Dixon, currently serving as pastor of the Lake Auburn Moravian Church in Victoria, Minnesota, has accepted the call to serve as pastor of the Emmaus Moravian Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Brian will conclude his ministry at Lake Auburn on February 24, 2019 and be installed at Emmaus on March 3, 2019. Please be in prayer for Brian and his family, and both congregations in this time of transition.
Sr. Christin Johnson is serving under appointment as full-time interim pastor at Emmaus Moravian Church. She began her work there on November 5, 2018. Please be in prayer for Sr. Christine and the Emmaus congregation during this time of transition.