Loving God, etc.

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BY THE REV. CORY L. KEMP |

What do you believe?  When do you feel most faithful?

We church folks tend to focus on believing and acting in faith that God is working with us according to God’s will. It’s a good practice, to pay attention to what you believe as a Christian, to trust yourself and God in living your life by those beliefs.  Faithfulness over time creates a life well-lived, satisfying for you and those you serve in your way. Beliefs and faith in God are so incredibly important, aren’t they?

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

And yet, we are called, first and foremost, to love.

Marcus Borg, theologian and author of Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most, reminded me of the two most important commandments with which God has entrusted each one of us who call ourselves Christians.  They are as familiar to you as they are to me, and I’d like to share them with you again here as Jesus shared them with his disciples:

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

Borg’s last chapter of Convictions focused so beautifully on what it means to love God, how we can do this every day. And, by natural extension, our expression of love for God becomes love in action for other people, and for ourselves.  

So, how do you love God?

First, ask yourself how you feel about God.  

A little obvious, I know, but love is a feeling, a tangible human feeling that makes you want to spend time with the object of your affection.  When you love someone, you may feel a little excited at the thought of unexpectedly seeing him, or you may catch yourself smiling as the thought of her crosses your mind.

So, how do you feel about God?  Do you feel happy, delighted knowing God’s presence in your life?  Do you light up inside at the thought of catching a glimpse of God in a place you don’t expect? Consider that for a few moments.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash   

Next, ask yourself what you like to do with God when you spend time together.  

When you love someone, you want to spend time with them, being together and doing what you enjoy.  Borg mentions devotional time, meditation, prayer, singing, reading scripture and retreats as ways we can spend time with God.  You may have participated in some or all of these activities with God over the years of your life.

But you may not have thought of them as expressions of your desire to share time with God because you love God and love being with God.  You may also have a few great ideas of your own to share about ways you and God spend time together.  When you spend time, consciously, with God, you get to know God better and better, which makes love grow.  

Last, Borg reminded me that loving God means loving what God loves.  

What do you believe God loves?  The second commandment tells us: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  God loves your neighbor and God loves you. In Jesus’ teaching, preaching, healing and mentoring of his disciples, God revealed what loving our neighbors, each other, looks like: compassion, freedom and courage, gratitude.  All of these are expressions of what God loves.

How do you feel about your neighbors?  Do you spend time with them, getting to know them better? Neighbors by another name are simply people with whom you share the planet.  People you live next door to, across town, the state, the country, the world from, are all people you have opportunity to love and spend time getting to know better.  Learning about other people’s lives is an expression of the love God has for you and me, and for all our neighbors. It is also easier to feel compassion for those with whom you do not agree, but have come to understand.

How do you feel about yourself?  How do you express love for yourself? Do you spend time with you?  Spending time with yourself is time well-spent, a spiritual practice of honoring the unique creation of God’s love that is your life. When you choose to be with yourself, do what you enjoy doing, you are loving yourself with a freedom and courage built into you by God’s ever-present, creative, powerful love for you.  

And, whenever you love your neighbor, whenever you love yourself, you are saying, thank you, God, for loving me.   

The brilliant artist, Georgia O’Keefe, known best for the flowers she pained, once said of her success, “In a way, nobody sees a flower, really.  It is so small, we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

Loving God takes time too.  You may believe you don’t have time, and that God knows your love is real.  But neglected love changes things, and before you know it, you have changed too.  You’ve lost track of what meant so much to you. Your life is emptied of what mattered to you most.  And, you may have forgotten who you are too.

So, how do you feel about God?


Cory Kimp

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.


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Are You a Caregiver? Help is Here

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BY A DEVOTED MORAVIAN CAREGIVER |

We are all aging every day, and if we are lucky, we will live longer than our grandparents did. Health care in this country is amazing, and many people are living until a ripe old age, which can be a blessing, but also, a challenge. One effect of this progress is that more and more of us are encountering physical limitations and even cognitive problems.

Many of us have parents who are still commitment to independent living even as they struggle with health concerns and diminishing mobility. It can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate the health care system, determine the best or most cost-effective resources, and ensure that your parents are enjoying the quality of life they so deserve.

Over the past few years, I found myself in this position – overwhelmed by the needs and challenges of my parents. I particularly needed reliable information. That’s when I found ACAP (which stands for Adult Children of Aging Parents). I attended their convenient, informative meetings and have learned much about the joys and challenges of caregiving and aging gracefully with support. ACAP has proven to be a lifesaver to me in many ways.

Younger adult caring for elderly.

Many middle age children have found themselves caring for their elderly parents. | Photo from Pexels

An ACAP Chapter is now operating in the Winston-Salem area. ACAP Winston-Salem will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, September 18 from 5:30pm until 7:00pm at Knollwood Baptist Church, 330 Knollwood Street in Winston-Salem. Meetings will be held the third Tuesday of every month at this location. The first meeting will deal with community resources available to assist with whatever needs you may have regarding the care of your aging parents. You will be able to ask questions, meet community representatives and the ACAP leadership team.

Register for the meeting by emailing your name to acapwinstonsalem@gmail.com. More information about ACAP is available at ACAPcommunity.org.

If this is a need that you have, please join us. If you forget to register, please come anyway. All programs are free and are intended to assist the members of our community.


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Ready for the Essentials

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BY REV. DAN MILLER |

This past July, I was privileged to be invited to Camp Hope, the Moravian camp in Hope, NJ, to lead programming for the senior high camp. I know you didn’t come to this blog to read about camp stories from me, but if you stick with me until the end, I promise there will be something there for you.

Camp Hope’s senior high camp has a planning committee made up of a select group of youth, which is similar to other Moravian senior high camps and Regional Youth Councils. As their name suggests, this group is responsible for planning many aspects of camp, part of which includes selecting an initial idea for the camp’s program and selecting someone to carry it out. When the planning committee came to me with the invitation to do the camp’s program, they explained their program idea. They wanted to know more about the “Moravian Motto” – In Essentials, Unity, In Nonessentials, Liberty, In All Things, Love. They said they knew the motto, but they didn’t know about the first part of it. Their question was simple: if we’re supposed to be united in the essentials, shouldn’t we know what those essentials are?

Yes, that would be important.

So, I set to work creating a program centered around the Essentials first laid out by our Moravian ancestor, Luke of Prague, and most recently reaffirmed by the Northern and Southern provinces at their most recent synods – God creates, God redeems, and God blesses, and in response we live with faith, love, and hope. Since camp always has a fun side to it, I wrapped it up in a survival-theme, because when else does anyone think of what is essential to living until they are alone in the wilderness trying to survive with nothing? Before I knew it, the theme morphed into Survivor, like the popular TV show. But using this theme didn’t quite fit with the Essentials because we don’t simply want to survive as a Christians, we want to thrive. Hence, the name of the program was changed to be called Thriver: The Essentials. The logo was the finishing touch before the program was unveiled at camp.

Thriver logo

The logo for Camp Hope’s Senior High camp program, inspired by the popular TV show, Survivor.

It wasn’t until the third day of camp that the six Essentials themselves were unveiled, and once they were, there was no going back. I was amazed at how quickly the camp soaked this up. Within minutes, everyone knew what the Essentials were. I could almost read the campers’ thoughts as I saw their faces light up – “There’s only six of them? Live with faith, love, and hope? I can do that!” Evening vespers were filled with praises directed towards one of the three God Essentials (i.e. Creator, Redeemer, Blesser). Small group discussions began filling up with conversations about people, things, actions, and events and how they point towards or away from faith, love, and hope. Campers were talking about the program outside of program time. (There’s something so wonderful about hearing conversations about the Essentials in line for dinner and in the pool.) The Essentials were quickly embraced, lived out, and manifested with new flesh and blood. Everyone at this camp was so ready for the Essentials.

Rev. Cynthia Rader Geyer leads a prayer

A body prayer was led each day before program by Rev. Cynthia Rader Geyer to prepare ourselves to receive the Essentials.

So why am I sharing about camp on this blog? I’m sharing this to let you know that the next generation is so ready to know about the Essentials. Children want to know that they are created, redeemed, and blessed by God not because of how much they know or how much they are able to do, but because of God’s love and grace. Youth want to know that there are so many unique ways that they can live with faith, love, and hope. College students want to know what makes them a Christian when they don’t have the chance to see the people and the place that they had associated with being a Christian for so long while growing up.

So teach the Essentials in your Sunday School and confirmation classes. Make them explicitly a part of your worship. Lead some kind of discussion curriculum about them. Be intentional about including them in a name of a group, the title of an event, or even a mission statement. Write them in the bulletin. Put them on Facebook.

A small group at Camp Hope pray together

A small group prays together as they each stand in a valentine from God made to represent one of the Essentials: Love.

Do something to spread the word about the Essentials because the next generation, and for that matter, all people, are ready…

They are ready to be loved and accepted completely as individuals who have unique talents, shortcomings, experiences, interests, insecurities, and dreams.

They are ready to give themselves to a movement, a cause, a purpose, and a Savior that is bigger than themselves.

They are ready to come together and unite with others to show the world faith, love, and hope.

They are ready for the Essentials.

May we be ready to share them.


About the Author

The Rev. Dan Miller

Photo courtesy of Rev. Dan Miller

Dan Miller (revdanmiller@gmail.com) is the pastor of Edgeboro Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He serves on the Interprovincial Board of Communication and the Moravian Theological Seminary Alumni Board. Dan is the co-creator of Moravian Church Without Walls (MCWW), a creative “think tank” for online ministry, which has most recently produced the MCWW Daily Text Podcast Series. Find it at anchor.fm/mcww or wherever you get your podcasts.


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Healing Divisions

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BY REV. JOHN JACKMAN |

Every year, Moravians around the world pause to observe the August 13th. This was the date in 1727 when our forebears experienced a powerful renewal, an event that has sometimes been called “the Moravian Pentecost.” We celebrate Holy Communion on the Sunday closest to August 13, sing hymns about renewal and reconciliation – and then what? Do we go about our business the same as before? What impact does this have on our lives today?

Most Moravians know a bit about the event on August 13, 1727, but know little of the details. It didn’t just “happen.” The previous year had been one of growing and terrible divisions among the Herrnhuters. Some newcomers to the little community had brought apocalyptic preaching and talk of the end times. Zinzendorf was the antichrist, Pastor Rothe (the Lutheran pastor called to the Berthelsdorf parish church) was the “beast from the pit.” Families were divided – just about the way some families are now!

Herrnhut, Germany - looking at the church | Photo by Mike Riess/IBOC

Herrnhut, Germany – looking at the church | Photo by Mike Riess/IBOC

Zinzendorf recognized that his little village of refugees was on the path to destruction, and resigned his position in the court in Dresden to return home and act as pastor to the community, visiting and calling the people together for prayerful study of the scriptures. During this period, the residents became convicted that their behavior toward one another had been inexcusable – that the Savior called His followers to exhibit love toward one another, to be “one” in his name. Out of this grew the remarkable document known in German as the Bruderlisch Vertrag, the Brotherly Agreement, now known as the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living. Rather than a doctrinal statement, the Moravians signed a code of Christian behavior. This was signed on May 12, 1727 by all the residents of Herrnhut. They entered a period of obedience to what they had found in scripture, spending increased time in prayer. The following three months brought about massive changes in the behavior of the community. Dr. Kenneth Curtis, founder of the Christian History Institute, wrote:

“On August 5, Zinzendorf and fourteen of the Brethren spent the entire night in conversation and prayer. On August 10th, Pastor Rothe was so overcome by God’s nearness during an afternoon service at Herrnhut, that he threw himself on the ground during prayer and called to God with words of repentance as he had never done before. The congregation was moved to tears and continued until midnight, praising God and singing.¹”

The Berthelsdorf Parish Church in Germany | Photo by Mike Riess

The next morning, Pastor Rothe invited everyone in the Herrnhut community to a joint communion service at the Bethelsdorf Church. It was held on Wednesday evening, August 13. Count Zinzendorf visited every house in Herrnhut to pray with the family in preparation for this service of communion. During this period of obedience to the Brotherly Agreement, of continued study of scriptures, and intense prayer, all had become convinced of their own sinfulness and need for forgiveness – from Christ and from one another. The service was one of confession; the words of forgiveness in the liturgy, and then the sharing of Holy Communion, had for each a profound meaning. Count Zinzendorf looked upon that August 13th as “a day of the outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon the congregation; it was its Pentecost.” It would later be said “This was the day that they learned to love one another.”

This reestablished the ancient call of the Unity – to live out the Great Commandment and the Beatitudes in community in a way that bore witness to the world of the love of God. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35, NIV. This is a call that the Unity has sought to live out for over 561 years, since our founding in 1457.

But what does August 13 mean for us today? For even if we are not arguing about who is the antichrist or when the End will be, we are a divided people. We are divided by the hot-button issues, by the ranting of politicians, by racial divisions. Shall we go through the motions of singing the hymns and receiving the Lord’s Supper this Sunday – and then go back to being divided and regarding one another out of the corner of our eyes?

Just like our forebears, we need a period of obedience to the Brotherly Agreement, a period of intense Bible study, and even more, a time of earnest prayer. We need to learn to love one another. Without the hard work of preparation, no magical renewal come with the waving of a wand.


Sources

1 Dr. A. Kenneth Curtis, “A Golden Summer.” Republished online at the Zinzendorf Jubilee site, http://zinzendorf.com/pages/index.php?id=a-golden-summer


About the Author

image of John Jackman

Photo courtesy of John Jackman

The Rev. John Jackman is pastor of Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem.

 


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Practicing Resurrection

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BY REV. REBECCA CRAVER | 

In our churches, we have lots of practices. We practice our faith, prayer disciplines, choir anthems, and so much more. Almost 9 years ago a friend introduced to me to the poet Wendell Berry and his poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” It woke me up to a practice of faith that I had missed or at the very least not given much time to develop in my Christian discipleship: practicing resurrection.

Resurrection is something we celebrate, proclaim and claim as part of our faith every day, however, it can be the last thing on our list of possible responses to meet the challenges of the day. I have been wondering over the last few years if resurrection is indeed what we, as churches, are being called into. Most of us know of congregations that are struggling with declining numbers in worship, fewer children and families getting connected, and simple discouragement because what once worked doesn’t seem to be working any longer.

We have more experience than we think we do. Think back, how often have you come up against a new and unexpected challenge and figured out how to meet it?

From my perspective, we seem to be living through a historical pivot point where God is doing some major renovations to the Body of Christ. Just like putting a new kitchen in your home shakes up the whole house and your daily routine, God’s renovation is shaking us up as well. I believe the practice of resurrection has some potential to help us through the transformation process. That first Easter morning no one saw it coming, except Jesus.

Image of cross at Easter

A cross in front of Olivet Moravian Church is adorned with a white cloth on Easter, signifying Christ’s resurrection. | Photo by Andrew David Cox

“The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” Luke 24:5-9

I find it challenging to imagine what it was like for the women at Jesus’ tomb. I wonder if questions such as these were going through their minds: “How could something so implausible and impossible as resurrection have happened?”, “What in the world are we supposed to do with this new information?”, and “What does it even look like to practice resurrection?”

Here are a few ideas from the poem “Manifesto” by Wendell Berry: “So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it.”

We have more experience than we think we do. Think back, how often have you come up against a new and unexpected challenge and figured out how to meet it? With the help and support of family, friends, and faith, we have found ways to thrive even in times of change, upheaval and sorrow. So let’s take the lessons we have learned in our daily lives and use them in our churches.

The Moravian seal or emblem, in all its forms, encourages us to follow Christ no matter the challenge or change we face. | Seals: Moravian emblem on Tanzanian cloth (top left), 2018 Southern Province Synod logo (bottom left), standard seal commonly seen in North America (middle), painted seal at Friedland Moravian Church (top right), stained-glass seal at Clemmons Moravian Church (bottom right). | Photos and graphic by Andrew David Cox

Here in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, our congregations have been setting aside time to talk together about our future(s). We are participating in a series called, “Food, Faith, and Future.” This is one way we are seeking to practice resurrection. We come to these conversations from our various contexts to listen for and imagine together how God’s renovation may be leading us into the future. For some of us, it seems like the writing is on the wall and the future of our congregational ministry may be coming to an end. For other congregations, there are different challenges to their ministries. However, each of our congregations still recognizes that God is working in us and through us for the Kin(g)dom of God. So whatever the future holds in terms of our institutional presence, our call to ministry and service continues.

As a pastor in Edmonton, I have great hope that these conversations on how our ministry might continue will bear fruit for the Kin(g)dom. We are not people of the tomb, it is not the place we stay, but the pivot point that sends us out again in search of a life with Jesus leading us on the way. We are sent to practice resurrection, indeed!

“Food, Faith, and Future” in action in Edmonton, Canada at an April 2018 meeting. | Photos by the Rev. Rebecca Craver


Sources

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” The Country of Marriage, by Wendell Berry, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.

WBP, Julie. “Poem of the Day – Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” BookPeople, BookPeople, 5 Apr. 2011, bookpeopleblog.com/2011/04/05/poem-of-the-day-manifesto-the-mad-farmer-liberation-front/.


About the Author

 

Rebecca Craver is a pastor in the Northern Province, serving Edmonton Moravian Church. She serves on the Healthier Congregations Task Force and is a co-creator of the “Create in Me” worship series in The Moravian Magazine and an upcoming podcast.

Contact Rebecca at RevRebeccaCraver@Gmail.com or call office number (780) 439-1063


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Childlike Wonder and the Children’s Festival

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BY ANDREW DAVID COX | 
 
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

The commemorative pieces

On Saturday, August 15, the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries will hold the fifth annual Children’s Festival and Lovefeast. The event will take place at Hope Moravian Church from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The festival commemorates the Moravian children’s spiritual renewal of 1727 in Herrnhut, Germany. Every year, this festival features several activities and events for children and their families. In addition to these activities, a commemorative piece is made with participation from the children. A few of the pieces have involved painting, and this year’s commemorative piece will too.
Image of the Children and Family Task Force

The Children and Family Task Force hold the commemorative pieces from all of the Children’s Festivals to date.

This year’s commemorative piece will be a painted tree, the branches representing the various communities and congregations of the Moravian faith. The tree trunk will be pre-painted on two pieces of plywood. These pieces will be placed on a corner of Hope Moravian, one piece on each corner wall. Attached to the plywood will be pieces of canvas cloth, each of which has branches painted on them. There are four canvas cloths, and each piece of plywood will have two cloths extending off of it to the side (about six feet out). The children will be invited to make the leaves by placing paint handprints along the branches.

A couple weekends ago, I helped create the commemorative piece by drawing the branches. Later that next week, the Children’s Festival planning team got together to paint the branches. The commemorative piece, like anything in the church, is a labor of love and a community effort. There is also something about utilizing your innate creativity, and making handmade art, that brings out your inner childlike wonder and excitement.

Image of the drawing version of the commemorative piece

Andrew David Cox stands in front of part of the commemorative piece for the 2018 Children’s Festival. He had just finished drawing tree branches on four six-foot-wide canvas cloths. You can view a timelapse of the drawing on the BCM’s social media channels. | Photo by Andrew David Cox

The Children’s Festival planning team works on painting the commemorative piece for the 2018 festival. | Photos courtesy of Beth Hayes

Childlike wonder

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

There are a lot of amazing talented adult artists out there. Each one of them is talented in a different way. But one is particularly relevant to the commemorative piece for the Children’s Festival.

I remember learning about Picasso in art school and the creative process that drove much of his work. As an adult, he sought to recapture the way children saw the world, and the way they expressed that through their art. There’s a freeness, simplicity, and purity in the way children create art.

Picasso also notably said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

And on a related note, Jesus said this, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone, who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10: 14-16, NIV)

Through the Children’s Festival, we hope to encourage children to lead a life of faith and to never lose that child-like wonder. We also hope to remind adults that they can always recapture that wonder daily through their lifelong journey as children of God.

We look forward to seeing you at the Children’s Festival, both the children and the children-at-heart. Come ready to learn, have fun, and explore our vibrant faith.


Activities at the Fifth Annual Children’s Festival and Lovefeast include:

  • Storytelling
  • Moravian frakturs
  • Moravian ships and raingutter regatta boat races
  • Learning Bible verses in English and German
  • Bishops teaching about the Moravian surplice and Hope’s role in making them for new Southern Province pastors

Learn more about the Children’s Festival at Moravian.Online/ChildrensFestival


About the Author

Andrew portrait

Andrew David Cox is the Communications Project Manager for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). Andrew is a driven creative person with established experience and skill in a variety of fields. He enjoys following motorsports in his spare time, particularly NASCAR.

Questions? Comments? Or need assistance with your church’s communications and social media efforts? Contact Andrew David Cox at Andrew@MoravianBCM.org or call (336) 722-8126 Ext. 404


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Seeking the Moravian Way (part one)

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BY REV. CHAZ SNIDER |

Embracing Mystery and the Fight Against Certainty


Editor’s note: this is part one in a series of blog posts by the Rev. Chaz SniderSubsequent parts to this series, “Seeking the Moravian Way,” will be published over the next few weeks on the Spotlight Blog and on Chaz’s blog. These additional parts will publish on Mondays, outside of the normal rotation. The normal rotation publishes Saturday and typically does not feature the same writer two weeks in a row.

If you want the rest of this series (and other future posts from Chaz’s blog) emailed to you directly, you can sign up for that here.


If you identify as a Moravian, I am sure you are familiar with the inquisitive look that you often get when you tell people that. It is more than likely going to be followed by the question, “What is a Moravian?” If they happen to be familiar with the denomination, then usually the response you get is “Oh you are the cookie people!” I cannot deny the fact that Moravians hold claim to some delicious treats.

The question “what is a Moravian?” tends to have deeper resonance when you ask it in the context of the spiritual landscape of today’s world. Church participation continues to drop and more people call themselves “spiritual but not religious” than ever before. This shift in American religion can cause us in the church to ask some healthy questions. Perhaps the best question we can ask ourselves is the same one that is most often asked of us: “What is a Moravian?”

There is not one theological issue that separates us Moravians from other Christians. What I come back with is a unique approach to faith and spirituality.

When I turn back to our history in an attempt to answer that question, I don’t come back with a doctrinal answer. There is not one theological issue that separates us Moravians from other Christians. What I come back with is a unique approach to faith and spirituality. When I look at our uniqueness it is not the “what” of faith that is different for us, but rather the “how” of our faith. Or to put it another way, how we live our faith is just as important to us as the content of our faith.

One of the key aspects of this Moravian way is an embrace of mystery and being ok with uncertainty. The writings of many early Moravians speak of the mystery of faith. They are not bound to the certainty of dogmatic and religious formulations but are ok with the mystery of God. These early Moravians speak of the Trinity as a family, Father God, Brother Christ, and Mother Spirit. Instead of debating the metaphysics of the incarnation they spoke of entering the wounds of Christ as a way of God inhabiting all of the human experience.

An image of the stained glass Moravian seal in Fairview Moravian Church's sanctuary | Photo by Andrew David Cox / BCM

The stained-glass Moravian seal in Fairview Moravian Church’s sanctuary | Photo by Andrew David Cox / BCM

We Moravians, like many Christians, have not always embraced these mystical elements of our heritage and for many years we have downplayed that aspect of our tradition. For much of the 20th century, faith was equated with believing something with a high degree of certainty. In defining faith this way, it became an intellectual exercise as opposed to something that required our being in meaningful community with others. Instead of focusing on how we lived in the world, faith became only believing a certain checklist of things.

When many early Moravians described their experience of faith, they did not seem particularly concerned about checking off a list of beliefs. Instead, they seemed much more concerned with how the mysterious Christ shaped the way they lived in the world.

[Zinzendorf] was interested in promoting a particular way of living out faith. A way that embraced mystery, made a meaningful impact on the world, and was centered on the person of Christ.

So why is this important? Christians in our country today are facing a crisis of identity. We are living in a more post-Christian society each day. Churches are shrinking at a rapid pace and people seem less interested in religion. And those things scare a lot of people, especially people in churches.

Here is the really interesting thing: even though people may be abandoning religion, they’re not abandoning spirituality. Pew Research tells us that 44% of the spiritual-but-not-religious pray every day and 92% believe God exists. Perhaps there is still a spiritual need to be filled, but many religious communities aren’t meeting that need.

An image of a bust of Count Zinzendorf in Herrnhut, Germany | Photo by Mike Riess / IBOC

A bust of Count Zinzendorf in Herrnhut, Germany | Photo by Mike Riess / IBOC

The Moravian way of faith might speak to this spiritual hunger. If we look back into our own history we will find that Zinzendorf, one of the most influential Moravian leaders, didn’t have any interest in starting a new denomination or religion. He was interested in promoting a particular way of living out faith. A way that embraced mystery, made a meaningful impact on the world and was centered on the person of Christ. So maybe we should give thought to how this Moravian way might find expression in a nonreligious way.

Zinzendorf and the early Moravians were less concerned with the certainty of faith and much more interested in the mystery of faith. We live in a world today where we divide ourselves by our certainties and absolutes. It can be certainty on politics, certainty on religion, or certainty on how good or bad the new Star Wars movie was. Whatever it may be, we divide and categorize each other because we have failed to cultivate mystery, uncertainty, and unknowing in our lives.

Maybe if we turn back to our Moravian way of faith, we can focus less on preserving our institutions and our certainties, and instead embrace the mysteries of our faith in Christ.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image of the Rev. Chaz Snider

Photo by Andrew David Cox / BCM

The Rev. Chaz Snider is the pastor at Ardmore Moravian Church (AMC) in Winston-Salem, NC. Chaz was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. He is a lifelong Moravian. Chaz’s focus is helping people who crave a relationship with God but aren’t sure where to start. He has a passion for spreading the love of Jesus to everyone and is looking forward to seeing how AMC can impact our city. Chaz’s wife Michaleh is a Physical Education teacher and director of children, youth, and family ministry. They have three kids: Chris, Abby, and Sara.

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