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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It is Enough

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BY LAURA WATSON |

Around the world, millions of people have been tuning in to the World Cup in Russia to watch their nation’s soccer team compete for the title of world champion. Tomorrow, Croatia and France will face off in the World Cup final. 

I love the World Cup (even if my country didn’t qualify to compete!). I love watching as players push themselves to go faster and harder, to persevere through pain, and to work together with their teammates for a common goal. I find myself yelling at the television….“Go, go, go!” I can only imagine what it’s like for the athletes’ families and friends.

Image of a goal being scored in soccer

Photo by Vitaly Krivosheev via Adobe Stock

We live in a culture that tends to yell at us as well….”Go, go, go!” Work harder. Climb the ladder. Go for the gold. Be all that you can be. Achieve. Shoot for the moon. Aim for the stars. You get what I mean.

Striving to be the best is important, but when is it okay to say, “It is enough.”? Especially since the “go, go, go” mindset is often paired with “more, more, more”? We’re inundated with marketing messages to get the car with more features, the phone with more storage, and the insurance plan with more coverage. And who doesn’t want more? I know I do.

When I think of myself as a steward, I have to acknowledge the need to shift my mindset. Father Andrew Kemberling of St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, Colorado, once wrote, “Stewardship is a gift from God for the conversion of a materialistic world. It is living out a commitment to be Christ-centered rather than self-centered and involves a conversion of the heart.”

This really speaks to me and invites me to acknowledge that it is enough. I have enough. God has blessed me abundantly and I am to receive His gifts gratefully and share them with others. I can’t imagine praying, “More, more, more!”, and yet that is oftentimes how I live.

Christ-centered rather than self-centered. A conversion of the heart. What an invitation.

So while I will continue to yell at my favorite soccer players as they push to fulfill their World Cup dream, I will remember that it is enough. I have enough. And that means I will live my life differently. I will strive to answer Christ’s call to renew the face of the earth. I will celebrate God’s everlasting love and that I am his. I will experience the joy and deepening faith that comes from proclaiming, “The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”

And It Is Enough.

An image of the mountains at Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center | Photo by Andrew David Cox

The mountains at Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center | Photo by Andrew David Cox

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image of Laura Watson

Photo via MMFA.info

Laura Watson is the Director of Stewardship and Development Services for the Moravian Ministries Foundation of America. Laura joined the Foundation in April of 2012. A native of Winston-Salem and member of Home Moravian Church, she has worked in the Florida school system, at Salem College, and as Assistant Director of Laurel Ridge, the Southern Province’s camp and conference center.

When she’s not busy with stewardship and capital campaign consulting for the Foundation, Laura enjoys running and fundraising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), as well as traveling with her husband, Mark. She has served on the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees and the Salem Academy Alumnae Board and currently serves on the Triad JDRF Board of Directors.

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Mission Trips and Faith

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BY ANNA STEWART FAIRCLOTH |

It was March of 2011 and I was on a bus with my youth group from Friedberg Moravian Church. We were headed for a mission weekend in Tennessee to help repair houses. We slept in a church on cots and played cards for hours when we got back from our worksite. At the time of this trip, I was certain God had sent me because this lady really needed help with her house. But looking back, I can see God sent me on this trip also because he knew I needed friends. I came back from that trip with a bus full of friends who pushed me to be better and kept me coming back to church every Sunday. Since then, I have gone on numerous mission trips that have led me all around the world. I’ve learned that God can use anybody to change the world. All you have to do is say yes!

God always reaches out his hand. He’s just waiting for you to grab it.

The Lord has taught me so many valuable lessons through mission work. I was on a plane from Addis Ababa to Mombasa when I realized that I was literally going to Africa. No joke. I knew the Lord was calling me to Kenya, but why? I think sometimes Jesus puts us in situations so that we are forced to rely on him. I was scared, a little homesick, and really wanted Chick-fil-a after eating airplane food for two days. I prayed to him for comfort and to bring me peace so that I knew I was meant for this. And that’s when I felt I tap on my arm. My neighbor had been sitting beside me silently the whole trip until we hit some turbulence. He shyly asked if he could hold my hand. It was his first time flying and he was scared. I smiled and reached out my hand. I think God does the same thing to us. Leaving your comfort zone can be scary, but God always reaches out his hand. He’s just waiting for you to grab it.

Image: Anna singing and dancing with one of the children at Ray of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Anna Stewart Faircloth.

Anna singing and dancing with one of the children at Ray of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Anna Stewart Faircloth.

Another lesson I have learned from my experience with missions: anything can be a moment for ministry. I used to think going on mission trips looked like evangelizing to everyone I met and bringing them to Jesus. Don’t get me wrong; we should be doing this too! But ministry also looks like sorting beans, blowing up balloons and making them into animals, and painting houses. When we humbly serve God’s children, we are reflecting Christ out into the world.

The Lord created us to be in community and family with one another. He didn’t just stop after Adam. He recognized loneliness and knew we weren’t meant to live that way. I have often heard people ask, “Why don’t you just send them the money you would spend on getting there to them?” The Great Commission tells us to go to the ends of the Earth for our brothers and sisters. Go into all the nations and baptize them into one nation, God’s kingdom. We can’t do that just by sending a check and signing our name on a card. My first mission trip to Tennessee made me want to start a relationship with Jesus. Not because of the work we did but because of the people who were there. They loved me like Jesus does, just as I am.

Image: In the Dominican Republic: Anna celebrating a little boy's successful surgery. He had just received surgery for a cleft pallet. | Photo courtesy of Anna Stewart Faircloth.

In the Dominican Republic: Anna celebrating a little boy’s successful surgery. He had just received surgery for a cleft pallet. | Photo courtesy of Anna Stewart Faircloth.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28: 16-20, ESV

This world needs a revival and it starts with you! How are you responding to the Great Commission? Are you living out your God-given responsibility to share the Gospel with every nation and tribe? Be the generation that fulfills the Great Commission. Put your trust in him and be spontaneous for God. All you have to do is go!

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image: Ray of Hope Orphanage in Kenya: Anna and one of the children after a church service. They became fast best friends!

Ray of Hope Orphanage in Kenya: Anna and one of the children after a church service. They became fast best friends!

Anna Stewart Faircloth is an intern at the Board of World Mission for the summer of 2018 and is a member of Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC. She attends Liberty University and is studying Youth Ministry with a minor in Camp and Outdoor Leadership as well as a minor in Family and Child Development.

 

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