Living Our Gifts – Moravian Identity
Delivered at Home Moravian Church Aug. 19, 2007
We’ve been away in England for a couple of weeks, and it is good to be back with you. I bring you greetings from our brothers and sisters in the Fetter Lane, Hornsey, Fulnek, and Baildon congregations and from Bob Hopcroft, the president of the PEC of the British Province. While we were in England, Sarah was able to attend the Moravian youth camp and learned new camp songs. She also taught them the “Lovefeast” song written by Brother Rick Sides. I’m not sure what impact that will have on the British Province.
I’ve been asked to say a few words this morning about Moravian Identity, and I think my family’s recent experience is a good example of how Moravians live this particular gift. Unlike churches that define themselves around a particular doctrine, Moravians identify themselves as brothers and sisters. We do not always use those words today, but the meaning is always there. My family was welcomed in a foreign country, not as Americans but as brothers and sisters from America. I knew I was in a Moravian church in London, not because of distinctive architecture, but because someone sat with me to make sure I knew what to do in the service. She, in turn, knew I was Moravian because I knew some of the hymns and stood for communion. The Moravian congregations in London are filled with people from Antigua, Jamaica, Trinidad. When they arrived, they were welcomed as brothers and sisters, and in turn welcomed us.
This morning we are sharing a lovefeast in commemoration of August 13, 1727. That first Moravian lovefeast helped shape our identity as Moravians. That was the day when the residents of Herrnhut recognized, celebrated, and lived their identity as brothers and sisters in Christ. When discussing Moravian identity we should always begin, as they did, with our primary identity as followers of Jesus. Moravians call each other brother and sister because we believe that Christ has brought us together into the household of God..
In a few minutes, members of the congregation will bring coffee and buns into the sanctuary. We call them “dieners” from the German word for servant. They are servants of Christ who will pass food and beverage to the person at the end of each row. That person passes the food to the next person. When everyone is served and we have asked Christ’s blessing, then we will eat together as brothers and sisters. In other words, no one eats until all have food. There are many sermons preached in that simple fact.
So, what is the gift of Moravian identity? We are people who have brothers and sisters with every color of skin. We are people who sing our faith and live in peace. We are people who believe that the best way to worship Christ is to feed friends and strangers and welcome them into the household of God. We are people who believe deep in our hearts that Christ did not come to give us dogmas; he came to welcome us into the household of God. Moravians do not pretend to be perfect; we simply try to live in the love of Christ and share that love every day. Moravians are indeed “lovefeast people.”