#MoravianStar2015

Moravian Star

Moravians! Advent is now upon us, which means, by tradition, many of us have our stars assembled and displayed. In the spirit of the season and fostering our Moravian unity, we’d like you to send us a picture of how you have your Moravian star displayed. If you feel led, include a description of what Advent/Christmas means to you as a Moravian Christian.

How to Submit:

Post your star image on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #MoravianStar2015 and tag @MoravianBCM (Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) on Facebook.) Don’t forget to include your description of what Christmas means to you as a Moravian Christian! If you prefer to keep your name and location private, email your submission to acox@mcsp.org. You may also direct/private message your pictures to us on the listed social media platforms (we are MoravianBCM on all three.)

Deadline: 

Please submit by December 24, 2015. 


What do we plan to do with this? 

Apart from sharing your stunning Moravian star pictures we hope to create a photo mosaic from all of the images. See examples here. The mosaic will represent a single graphical display of our Moravian unity this Advent season! At some point in the future, possibly next year just prior to Advent season, we may offer the mosaic prints for sale to raise money for one of our regional ministries.

NOTE ON PRIVACY: If you post your image to social media and prefer to keep your location private, please do so by not tagging a location when you post your image. If you prefer to keep both your name and/or username as well as location private, submit your image via email (acox@mcsp.org) or direct/private message us on one of the listed social media platforms. Please expressly tell us we are not permitted to use your name or location by saying you want your submission to remain anonymous

IMAGE PERMISSIONS: By submitting, you give us permission to repost your submitted image, your description, and name/general location (if not expressly denied) on all digital platforms. You also agree to let us reuse the images/descriptions/name/general location (the last two only if given) for future purposes, both digitally and in print for non-commercial and commercial purposes. For future uses of submitted images, we reserve the right to refrain from crediting photos should we deem it appropriate. The original submitted photo still belongs to the original photographer.

Submission details updated on Monday, December 14, 2015.

Please email acox@mcsp.org if you have any issues or questions!

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Jesus as Chief Elder: A Story

Have you ever talked to your children or grandchildren about the Moravians’ view of Chief Elder? Do you know the story of how Jesus Christ came to be elected the church’s Chief Elder? Thanks to our friend Craig Atwood for providing a little background on the topic:  

Moravians really like the number 13. We have two festivals in the church year that fall on the thirteenth day of the month: August 13 and November 13. This is probably just a strange coincidence, but it does tell us that Moravians are not very superstitious about numbers! August 13 was the great day when the Moravian church was given a new life by the Holy Spirit. We celebrate that event with communion and lovefeasts, but what is November 13 all about?

On September 16, 1741, the leaders of the church were meeting in London to make a number of important decisions. One of them was to choose a new Chief Elder. Leonard Dober, one of the first missionaries to the slaves in the Caribbean, had been serving as chief elder for several years. It was a big job. He was responsible for the spiritual welfare of a church that had grown rapidly from a little community in Herrnhut, Germany to an international fellowship stretching from Greenland to South Africa.

The Chief Elder was primarily responsible for hearing people’s complaints and concerns, especially in spiritual matters. He prayed on behalf of the community, and at times he worked to make peace between individuals. He was a pastor who was expected to offer sound advice. There was also a Chief Eldress for the women of the church. For many years, it was Anna Nitschmann, the head of the Single Sisters Choir.

Leonard Dober was tired. The job was wearing him out, and people were beginning to complain about how he did things. So, he officially asked to lay down this office, and then the rest of the elders set about trying to find someone to replace him. The elders who were gathered included the Count and Countess von Zinzendorf, Benigna, their daughter (who was  only 16), Leonard Dober, Anna Maria Lawatsch, Friedrich von Watteville (Zinzendorf’s best friend), Rosina Nitschmann, David Nitschmann (not the bishop), and August and Mary Spangenberg. This was an impressive group that included some of the wisest people in the church.

It is amazing that there were as many women as men at the meeting. That would not have been the case for other churches at that time. It is also remarkable that most of the participants were under the age of 42. By our standards, these elders were quite young. They were also creative and adventurous. Each of them had travelled through many countries and across the ocean to spread the good news that God loves all people, especially those who have been rejected by the world.

In those days Moravians made important decisions by selecting a lot, a process no longer used in the modern church. The purpose of the lot was to let Jesus have a direct voice in decisions of the church. The elders would discuss a problem and propose a solution. Then they would pray for divine guidance, and finally they would pull out a slip of paper from a box. If it said “yes,” they would go ahead with the decision. If it said “no,” they tried to find another solution. Sometimes the lot said “wait,” and so they would give the situation a little more time and try again.

On September 16, they asked the Lord if Leonard Dober could stop being Chief Elder and the answer was “yes.” After that they submitted many names of people they thought could replace him, and each person was rejected by the lot. They grew worried and took time to pray and read the Bible. The verses they read all talked about Jesus’ role as the great shepherd and Lord of the church. Finally the small group of elders decided ask this question: “Whether this signified that the Saviour would himself undertake the office.” To their surprise, the lot agreed and in good Moravian fashion, they sang a hymn, “We kiss thee with great tenderness, you elder of the congregation.” Jesus Christ had officially accepted the office of Chief Elder through the lot.

Chief Elder Day

Download and use the above graphic for your church’s social page by clicking here. 

This was such an extraordinary event that the elders decided not to announce it immediately to all the congregations. They took a couple of months to prepare liturgies and sermons to celebrate what had happened. The day they chose to make Jesus’ election publicly known was November 13, and we still celebrate that date, often with Holy Communion or a lovefeast. At the time, November 13 signified that Christ was pleased with the work of the church would continue to bless it as chief elder. It also meant that the church relied even more heavily on the lot to discern the will of the Savior. It became customary to leave a chair empty at elders’ meetings to remind them that Jesus was there in Spirit.

We no longer use the lot as a way to figure out what Jesus would have us do in the church, but we still look to him as our Chief Elder. He is the one we should take our troubles to and he is the one who can overcome divisions and anger. He is the one who teaches us to forgive and who sends us out in the world as servants. By proclaiming that Jesus is our Chief Elder, we acknowledge that he is the true head of the church and all that we do should be pleasing to him. It is also a reminder to us that true leadership is a servant leadership like that of Jesus. Every November 13, Moravians around the world should ask themselves, “what does our Chief Elder want us to do as a church?”

-The Rev. Dr. Craig Atwood is Associate Professor of Moravian Theology and Ministry at Moravian Theological Seminary and author of The History of the Czech Brethren from Hus to Comenius. This article was originally posted on the Roots & Wings blog on November 9, 2009. 

From The Resource Center: What You Need for Advent

Advent - mug and candle

It’s November. The Halloween candy is being taken off the shelf… many stores skipping Thanksgiving and going straight to Christmas. At this point in the year, it is getting easier to start fathoming the cold winds and many Moravian traditions that often accompany the Advent season, but at the risk of being like that store that puts out Christmas decorations just a little too early, we are asking you to think about the Advent season now. Not the shopping, the decorations, or even all of the great food–think of the spiritual journey of Advent. What do you want to experience during this season in your family, with your friends, and by yourself ? So now, before you get caught up in everything else,, think about some of the many books and studies in our Resource Center that can help get you where you truly want to be this Advent…

Group Studies:

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Finding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam (James Moore) Christmas or confusion, Bethlehem or bedlam . . . Which will you choose this year? The truth is, we don’t have to choose, because Christmas always happens right in the midst of our chaos. God breaks into our noisy disorder and is made known in Jesus Christ. Christmas and confusion—weren’t they intimately related at the first Christmas when Jesus was born? Sometimes we forget that. That’s what this study is about—how Christ breaks into our chaos and confusion and brings Christmas—how Bethlehem always happens in the midst of bedlam. The re-introduction of this all-church Advent study, which features a new Leader Guide and DVD, has five sessions—one for each Sunday of Advent and one for Christmas. Each chapter includes questions for reflection and discussion, a brief prayer, a focus for the week, and six daily Bible readings for personal devotional time during the week.

The Journey: Walking The Road to Bethlehem (Adam Hamilton) Using historical information, archaeological data, and a personal look at some of the stories surrounding the birth, the most amazing moment in history will become more real as you walk along this road. This study includes a DVD and a devotional book.

A Different Kind of Christmas (Mike Slaughter) This will empower your family and your church to reclaim the broader missional meaning of Jesus’ birth, and A different kind of Christmas - bookexperience a Christmas season with more peace and joy than any toy or gadget could ever bring. Discover how Christians can experience the true joy of living and giving like Jesus, beginning with the Christmas season and continuing as a lifestyle. There is a DVD component as well as a devotional book.

Children’s Studies:

The Christmas Shoppe - bookThe Christmas Shoppe: An Advent Experience for Children (Daphna Flegal and Marcia Stoner) Children explore the story and the symbols of Jesus’ birth, peruse the Bible, and create symbols of Advent as special gifts. This book helps children prepare to be a part of the presentation of the Christmas story. It comes with an inter-generational worship model.The Story of Christmas. Inside this Advent calendar you will find 25 small numbered books. As you open the gates, the Christmas story will start to unfold. It teaches children the amazing story of the first Christmas on earth.

Unwrapping the Christmas Crèche (Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger) This engaging and delightful book follows a child’s thoughts and actions as the Christmas crèche is unwrapped. Each figure comes to life in this Advent adventure! Share Unwrapping the Christmas Crèche with your children as you create memories and traditions of your own.

Individual Studies:sent

Sent: Delivering The Gift of Hope (Jorge Acevedo) “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them . . .” —John 17:18 God sent Christ at Christmas. In turn, Christ sends us into the world to be his hands and feet, head and heart. Dynamic pastor Jorge Acevedo leads us on a 5-week Advent journey to discover how, where, and why we are sent. Joining him on the journey are four young clergy including Jacob Armstrong, Rachel Billups, Justin LaRosa, and Lanecia Rouse, who challenge us through story, art, and Bible study. This devotional, offering four weeks of daily reflections, functions beautifully on its own or as part of the church-wide experience. The reflections are ideal for use during Advent and include Scripture, personal insights, daily challenges, and prayers.

Embodied Light: Advent Reflections on the Incarnation (Melissa Tidwell) The book’s penetrating reflections for Advent reveal how to follow this fully human, fully divine Jesus with our full selves – mind, spirit, and body.

The Uncluttered Heart: Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas (Beth Richardson) Advent is the season when we prepare our lives – hearts, minds, and spirits – for the coming of the Christ child. We sweep out the corners of our hearts, cleaning up the clutter, to make space for God’s hope, peace, joy, love, and presence.

God is IGod is in the manger - bookn The Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) These stirring words are devotions that guide and inspire readers as they move thematically through the weeks of Advent and Christmas, from waiting and mystery to redemption, incarnation, and joy.

Waiting For the Wonder: Voices of Advent (Katerina Katsarka Whitley) You are placed in the hearts and minds of the biblical characters – both real and imagined – who played a part in the Christmas narrative. The voices lead us closer to the Christ child and deepen the meaning of the season of Advent.

Family Studies:
Christmas at our house

Creating Christmas Memories: Family Traditions For a Lifetime (Cheri Fuller) The traditions we share together each year remind us of who we are and where we have been as a family. Christmas is a wonderful time to establish new traditions, enhance old ones, and build special memories.

Christmas At Our House: Family Holiday Traditions (Donna Green) This keepsake book preserves the special holiday traditions and memories that bind families together for your children and grandchildren. It is a joyous celebration of the uniqueness of every family.

The Resource Center’s hours are 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday (evenings and weekends by appointments.) Email bhayes@mcsp.org if you have questions or need more information. You can view our Advent catalog here, or search “Advent” on Resource.Moravian.org. 

Life Forevermore

The Spirit of God often shows up in the ordinary faithfulness of those gathered in the name of Jesus.

In a gathering of the Brethren on August 13, 1727, the Holy Spirit so filled the hearts of the brothers and sisters at Berthelsdorf that they “felt not far”¹ from the Lord. Through the familiar rhythms of singing, praying, blessing and communion–this congregation, a congregation who knew about hardship and diverse points of view, experienced the presence of a God who teaches us to love.

As we celebrate the festival of August 13th may we embrace the same unity of spirit that is awakened in us as we follow a Savior who redeems, while sharing this good news of love with our world.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity!

…For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

-from Psalm 133

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¹“We Learned to Love: August 13, 1727.” This Month in Moravian History, no. Issue 67 (2011): 1.
Photography: Mike Riess, Editor, Moravian Magazine. Pictures taken from a recent Moravian Heritage tour, Summer 2015.
Blog: Sarah Hubbard

 

Truth is the Way

DSC02626Around 500 Moravians and guests from around the province gathered together on Sunday, July 19, at Home Moravian Church, for a service of Word and Sacrament in commemoration of the Legacy of John Hus. Another 100 people joined us through the live internet feed. Approximately $1500 was raised to support the BCM’s multicultural translation project. We give thanks for this meaningful service of worship and time shared together.

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Truth Prevails 

I searched for the truth from all of the people who passed me by.

I looked through the Scriptures to follow your footsteps until I die.

I served as a pastor at Bethlehem Chapel to spread your light.

I challenged corruption and spoke up for what was right.

Though they take my life away

I will speak the truth each day.

Jesus is truth;

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I stand in the Council and listen to all that they have to say –

The harsh accusations and fierce allegations that come my way.

But I must be faithful and keep my convictions, I cannot fail,

For though they stop me I know God’s truth will prevail.

Though they take my life away

I will speak the truth each day.

Jesus is truth;

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Lord I wonder in all that is and all of time,

Will faith and love and hope be known to humankind?

Will the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers ever know –

Under the violence and greed the truth will still grow?

Though they take my life away

I will speak the truth each day.

Jesus is truth;

Truth is the way.

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MR2_2351Jesus is truth:

The way.

My way.

Our way.

Written by Senior High Campers during Senior High Camp – July 11-18, 2015
In tribute to John Hus
Music by Rick Sides and Jim Newsom, Jr.
Pictures by: Mike Reiss

Equipping & Encouraging: Online Faith Formation

As a final post in the church communication series, we offer to you a variety of links and resources to help guide your exploration of online faith formation and digital ministry. Enjoy!

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A few favorites:

Vibrant Faith Ministries: “As an organization, we are a team of passionate ministry leaders on a mission to explore the changing landscape of faith formation in the hearts of people today. We serve God by serving the Church and its leaders. That’s what matters most to us.”

Building Faith: “Christian formation inspiration from the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary”

Presbyterian Association of Resource Centers: PARC provides online resources for children, youth and adults.

The Holy Geek: I (Randall Curtis) work at the Episcopal Church in Arkansas where I am the Ministry Developer for Young Adults and Youth. I am the President of Forma, a network of Christian formation leaders in the Episcopal Church. I am a regular on the Easter People Podcast and one of the lead teachers for the Certificate in Family and Youth Ministry of the FaithFormationacademy.org.

e-Formation: A learning community for ministry in a digital world. 

Books you can find in the Resource Center:

Faith Formation 4.0: Introducing an Ecology of Faith in a Digital Age

Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible

Tweet If You Love Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation

The Social Media Gospel: Sharing the Good News in New Ways

 

Reflection on Moravian Leadership Network

Applications are now open for Moravian Leadership Network Class of 2015-2016. The deadline for application is August 2, 2015. Read the program overview, which includes a detailed schedule as well as a link to the online application. Read a recent article about MLN in the Moravian Magazine.MLN Logo for print use
As I was pursuing my Doctor of Ministry Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary (Chicago, Illinois) one of the most valuable books I read during this time was entitled, Leadership On The Line by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky. In their book they use a balcony as a metaphor for leadership. One of the most practical ideas of leadership is the ability to get perspective in the midst of action. The balcony metaphor captures this idea very well. In their book they use the example of a dance floor filled with many dancers and a band. If one were a dancer on the dance floor, chances are they would be caught up in the music, the dance itself and their dancing partner.  When asked how things were at the dance they might reply, “The band played great and the place was filled with dancers!” From this viewpoint one might not notice things that someone in the balcony would see. Looking down from the balcony one might observe that only some people danced when certain music was played. Perhaps they noticed that all the dancers clustered to one side of the floor further away from the band because they were playing too loud. As this illustration proves, achieving a balcony perspective means one must be removed from the dance floor and be a keen observer of all things.

As Pastor of Christ Moravian Church, I have “sat in the balcony” and observed four of our members participate in the Moravian Leadership Network’s first two classes. During this time from my view in the balcony, I am filled with hope and excitement for the future of our Moravian Church. I have seen individuals who were already good leaders within our church mature and become even better leaders through the benefits of their participation in the Moravian Leadership Network. In addition I have seen other members who have participated in the Moravian Leadership Network recognize their gifts and talents more clearly and in turn they have gained more confidence in their leadership skills. I look forward to trying to “recruit” more members in the coming years to participate in the Moravian Leadership Network.  The benefits are not only discovered within the local congregation but provincial service as well.

I have seen members . . . recognize their gifts and talents more clearly and gain more confidence in their leadership skills.

Opportunities for leadership are available to us every day. I believe that leadership is a way of giving meaning to our lives by contributing to the lives of others. Leadership is at its best, a labor of love.  We have several dedicated clergy and laypeople who are now graduates of the Moravian Leadership Network. I have been witness first hand of the benefits of their instruction. They have been blessed through the instruction of laypeople and clergy who dedicate their time and talents in providing instruction and insights to those who participate in the Moravian Leadership Network. They give of themselves because of their love for God and love for the Moravian Church.

In a recent sermon preached on the subject of discipleship I offered these words worth repeating:

At the close of life, the question will not be how much have we earned but how much have we given. We will not be asked how much we have won but rather how much have we done. We will not be asked how much we have saved but rather how much we have sacrificed.  Finally we will not be asked how much we were honored but rather how much have we loved and served others.

The Moravian Leadership Network has proven that mentoring and instruction are bridges to a brighter future. I hope you will consider crossing over and participating in the Moravian Leadership Network’s next class opportunity!

dave marcus  The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.
  Pastor, Christ Moravian Church