“Out of the Box”
Recently I learned of some creative celebrations of lovefeast within our Eastern District congregations. These are celebrations that take us back to our roots; at the same time, they were what we now call “COVID-friendly.” I am always inspired by the thoughtfulness in planning that allows us to experience God’s Spirit in powerful ways. Thanks so much to our contributors this month!
From Jeffrey Long, Project Manager, Moravian Church Northern Province & member of Central Moravian:
On May 12, 1727, residents of early Herrnhut mutually agreed to live together in accordance with a so-called Brotherly Agreement, with every baptized adult signing in approval. Terms of the agreement included various topics for daily life within the community and addressed both temporal and spiritual issues … all based upon the common goal of living together as they interpreted the early Christians had also lived. However, signing an agreement and then abiding by its conditions proved challenging for most Herrnhuters. Frictions soon developed and factions within the community quickly formed. In response, a series of prayer meetings were held to foster communication while addressing concerns and introducing compromises. Later that same summer, the Herrnhuters felt they were ready to unite behind the terms of the agreement. They gathered on August 13, 1727, in the local parish church in nearby Berthelsdorf to celebrate Holy Communion. Several historical accounts of this defining worship service note the congregation refrained from leaving church thereafter. Food was even provided for them to share so they could remain and continue experiencing their new-found fellowship with one another. Many accounts continue that, upon their departure several hours later, the congregation walked back to Herrnhut in small conversational groups who described their common experience with the German phrase: “wir lernten einander Lieben”, which can be translated as “we learned to love each other”. For this reason, the date of August 13th is considered the birthdate of the renewed Moravian Church and remains one of its most significant festivals.
Members of Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, PA, have been observing this special occasion with a “Lovefeast on the Lawn” for many decades. Instead of the more conventional setting inside the sanctuary with “Dieners” in formal attire distributing the traditional meal of sweetened coffee and buns, this annual lovefeast is a casual event held outside on the church green and includes refreshing beverages along with homemade sandwiches lovingly prepared by congregants. Every year I come away believing it closely resembles in spirit that initial Moravian lovefeast. Slightly modified to accommodate pandemic restrictions, this year’s event involved prepackaged foods and beverages served by gloved and masked volunteers. The outdoor venue encouraged many congregants to safely experience in-person fellowship on a large scale. The grace of those organizing and serving the lovefeast embodied the desire to care for our congregation while small conversational groups that naturally formed on the lawn offered a comfortable setting for friends to reconnect after long absences.
Departing from this year’s lovefeast instilled with special meaning, our congregation could also describe their common experience with the phrase “we learned to love each other”.
From John Knockey, Board of Elders, First Moravian Church of York, PA:
On September 5, 2021, the congregation at First Moravian bid farewell to their beloved pastor, the Rev. Sayward Lippincott. It would be typical for a day like this to include a wonderful party – a feast of celebration where they could gather at tables together to reminisce and share gratitude. Necessary safety protocols could have threatened this type of celebration. Instead, the congregation came up with an “out of the box” idea for a lovefeast celebrating their shared ministry with a pastor who always encouraged them to think “out of the box.” And so during worship, they shared a lovefeast. They ate out of boxes (box lunches). Subs, chips, and cupcakes (Sayward’s favorite) became their feast. The celebration harkened back to August 13th in a way that respected the need for safety and care. More importantly, they found a way to honor their pastor that suited her perfectly.
May God continue to inspire us as we appreciate our traditions, exercise our adaptability, and keep learning to love one another!
The Board of World Mission invites you to participate in our 2021 Advent calendar. We are blessed more than we will ever know because rarely do we pause to count the blessings. Day by day, as you follow this Advent calendar, you will be given an opportunity to count your blessings. But rather than leave it there, this Advent, we seek to allow our blessings to bless others.
As the medical clinic in Ahuas, Honduras celebrates 75 years of blessing others, we invite you to decide how much you would like to donate for each of your blessings to help the Board of World Mission support this life-saving work. Participate on your own, with your family, or with another group of mission-minded people.
You may not have some of the blessings listed for one day but be aware that you may count many blessings for other days. Find a jar to collect a penny or a nickel for each of these blessings. Perhaps you can afford to give more. At the end of Advent, December 24, we will invite you to total up your blessing count and make a donation to the Board of World Mission’s work. We would count it a blessing to be able to share your blessings with the medical team in Ahuas.
Follow along with the calendar by downloading the printable version which will be available on the BWM website or have the daily prompts sent through email or text. You can also follow along on social media!
To join via email, send an email with “Advent Calendar” in the subject line to [email protected] To join via text, send a text message including “Advent Calendar” to (920)495-8995
Embracing Stewardship webinar
By Laura Watson
In their book Embracing Stewardship, Charles Lane and Grace Pomroy provide a diverse approach to their shared conviction that stewardship belongs at the heart of every individual and community of faith. Join us Tuesday, November 16 at either 11:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. EST to dive into the book’s key perspectives and points, including specific pathways to follow to deepen people’s understanding of themselves as God’s stewards.
Grace Pomroy was a keynote speaker at MMFA’s recent Celebrate Stewardship 2021 conference; we have received feedback from attendees who are interested in her book, so we’re providing this webinar as a way to help people explore the reading and have conversation about it.
Click below to register for a session:
Late October and early November are typically very busy times for the IBOC, as we receive and distribute thousands of copies of the Moravian Daily Texts. This year, things are a little different. The supply, production and transportation issues faced by many different companies for all sorts of products have also affected the Moravian Daily Texts.
Paper shortages and vendor backlogs have caused delays in our 2022 Moravian Daily Texts distribution schedule. While our paperback and large print editions are only slightly delayed and are expected to be ready to ship in the next few weeks, our printer has informed us that the hardcover and large print editions will likely not arrive at our facility until late November.
What does this mean our Daily Texts readers?
- For those customers with only paperback, large print editions or foreign language translationsin their pre-orders, we expect to begin shipping the week of November 8.
- For those customers whose orders include hardcover and/or Journal editions, we expect to be able to begin shipping your entire order starting November 30.
At this point, we are confident that we will be able to ship all pre-ordered 2022 Daily Texts to domestic customers from our office in Bethlehem by mid-December. If you require the paperback/large print portion of your order earlier, we can arrange separate shipping at an additional cost.
We apologize for any inconvenience this shipping delay may cause and ask for your patience and understanding as we work to bring you the Moravian Daily Texts.
If you have any questions about your order, please contact Jill Bruckart at [email protected].
Introducing Moravian Mission Coffee and new Moravian Star mugs
The IBOC has partnered with the Board of World Mission to bring a world of coffee to Moravians here in the U.S. Moravian Mission Coffee makes it possible for you to support Moravians around the globe just by drinking your morning cup of joe!
Coffee purchases help the Board of World Mission contribute to specific needs and ministries through Mission Grants. Support your coffee farmer, too — our partners at Lutheran World Relief are committed to paying their farmers a living wage to help lift their families out of poverty.
This delicious medium roast Mt. Elgon, Uganda Community Blend is available in 12 oz. bags of whole bean or ground coffee for $11.95.
And to go along with that great coffee are our brand-new Moravian Star café mugs! These 18 oz., 6″ tall ceramic café mugs feature a contemporary Moravian
Star motif, imprinted on both sides. Mugs are russet-colored with a black interior and are dishwasher and microwave safe.
Visit store.moravian.org to learn more and to order!
Resources for Advent and Christmas
With Advent right around the corner, remember that there is an array of resources available to help Moravian congregations celebrate the season!
Congregations and individuals have access to Moravian-focused hymns, liturgies, images, activities and much more through www.moravianchristmas.org. This site is filled with downloadable material for use in online or in-person worship, seasonal promotions, family activities, etc., all with a Moravian flair.
This website continues the work begun last year during the first “Covid Christmas.” We hope that keeping these digital resources available will help congregations plan and celebrate services whether in-person or online. Additional material will be added in coming weeks.
Visit www.moravianchristmas.org today!
Executive Assistant to the PEC President Welcomed
We are delighted to announce that Rachel Starmer has been hired to serve as the Executive Assistant to the PEC President, stepping into the role that Gloria Reisinger has held for over 26 years.
Rachel joins the Church Center staff beginning November 17 and will spend the remainder of the year learning from Gloria’s wisdom and experience before Gloria retires on December 31. Rachel recently served as Assistant Director of Administration at Moravian Theological Seminary and brings with her strong organizational skills, communication, project management, as well as a Masters’ Degree in Clinical Counseling.