A Merry COVID Christmas!
For many Moravians, celebrating Christmas means a packed church, beautiful music, joyous singing, beeswax candles, sharing a Lovefeast, and more – all things that are difficult, if not impossible, in this very challenging year.
While this year has been challenging for many, Moravians are still shinning a light this Christmas season through our traditional lovefeasts. Using this year as an opportunity to re-imagine many of our long-standing Christmas traditions, many Moravian churches throughout North America are offering their beloved lovefeasts virtually!
On this website, you will find a list of the many virtual services that you can tune into this Christmas Eve. A benefit of this unusual holiday season is that you can watch several different Moravian services in the comfort of your own home!
Several churches are offering a lovefeast supply “pick-up” option. To find a church near you, use this interactive map. If there is not a church that is convenient for you, don’t despair! You can partake in whatever you have to when you watch the service – coffee, tea, chocolate milk, buns, sugar cake, cookies, doughnuts….whatever!
The History of the Lovefeast
The first Moravian Lovefeast was served in Germany on August 13, 1727, following the Renewal of the Moravian Church. Lovefeast is styled after the common meal partaken in love and fellowship by the early Church (as described in the Book of Acts). After the memorable celebration of the holy communion on August 13, seven groups of the participants continued to talk over the great spiritual blessing which they had experienced and were reluctant to separate and return to their own homes for the noonday meal. Count Zinzendorf, sensing the situation, sent them food from his manor house, and each group partook together, continuing in prayer, religious conversation, and the singing of hymns. This incident reminded Zinzendorf of the primitive agape, and the idea was fostered until lovefeasts became a custom in Moravian life. They were introduced wherever new settlements were founded and so came to America. Wherever its fullest liturgical development exists, the lovefeast is a service of solemn dignity, in which the finest Moravian Church hymns and stately music may be heard, but without any surrender of its central idea.
The first lovefeast in North Carolina was held on the evening of the arrival of the Moravians at Bethabara in 1753. Warm mugs of sweetened coffee, prepared in the Moravian tradition, and authentic Moravian buns are served to the congregation. Seasonal music and Christmas carols set a festive tone while the congregation enjoys the “feast.” The candle portion of the service began as a Moravian children’s service. Handmade beeswax candles decorated with a red paper frill are distributed to each worshiper. The beeswax candles have been variously described as symbolizing the purity of Christ and the sacrifice of Christ as the light of the world. The candles are lit while the worship space is darkened except for a large illuminated Moravian Advent Star. Often led by a child, worshipers sing the antiphonal hymn, Morning Star, O Cheering Sight. In some congregations, after the last hymn, the worshipers carry their lighted candles out into the world.
To learn more about the traditional Moravian lovefeast, visit Moravian.org.
This information has been gathered by the Board of Cooperative Ministries of the Moravian Church, Southern Province. The Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) engages and supports congregations and RCCs in their ministries as together we grow in faith, love and hope, following Jesus in serving the world.