Friendship Through the Wilderness

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BY THE REV. CORY L. KEMP |

Photo of a palm cross

Photo by Andrew David Cox / Moravian BCM

We are coming toward the end of our wilderness journey, this Lenten season filled with opportunity to explore our faith, to learn new ways to be present as Jesus taught us in the example of his own life. 

Forty days feels like a long time to do this incredible work of honoring God’s wisdom in us, to be humbled by its transformative strength and power, often in ways we can barely begin to unravel in this Great Mystery that God truly is.

And then suddenly, there is Palm Sunday. We sing our Hosannas, echoing those surrounding Jesus as he returned to Jerusalem. 

And, we know what comes next. 

By Biblical accounts, so did Jesus. His time in the wilderness appears to have given him affirmation, personal resolve, and the renewed foundation of faith to walk back out of the wilderness and into the fire. And, as he faced this stretch of his life, he also had his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. 

It is a Biblical concept, this sense of connection to each other that can be described as deep affection, respect, admiration and love. In describing Jesus, each gospel writer allows a great teacher, prophet and savior to emerge. But John’s one sentence speaks of Jesus the friend: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (John 11:5).” Jesus spent time with them in their home, including the Passover, a true family celebration. One can only surmise that in the remembrance of the Passover ritual and tradition, there were also stories told of past gatherings, and some laughter. 

From Jesus and his friends we can learn some wonderful lessons about friendship.

Image of friends hanging out on a mountain

Photo by Arthur Poulin, via Unsplash.com

Friends become a safe haven when hospitality is shared, hearts are opened, and love is freely given. The sisters clearly were hurt and angry, confused and deeply saddened when Jesus took so long getting back to them as Lazarus was dying. They were equally elated and grateful at the results when Jesus finally did show up.  Raising Lazarus from the dead must have been a recurring story around their table whenever Jesus came to visit. How could it not be?

Friends make us better. Augustine believed it was important to surround ourselves with people who are better than us because they make us better. A friend and I laughed over the fact that we had both chosen each other for this reason. While Jesus was known to many as teacher, healer, prophet and miracle worker, he was also known to this family as friend. Spending time with other people’s families gives us insight into ourselves in unique ways. These siblings gave Jesus something he would not have had if he hadn’t chosen to spend time with them.

Friends remind us who we are, even when we forget. When we falter, face huge obstacles, back away from what we don’t want to deal with, and when we are smack in the middle of something we don’t know our way out of, our friends are with us to say out loud, or in our hearts, “Yes, you can. I know you, and I know you can.” In our slim book of Holy Week readings, there is a small notation indicating that we don’t know what Jesus did on Wednesday night, the night before his arrest and imprisonment, but it is assumed he spent the night in Bethany in seclusion with friends. A last night of peace among those he loved and who loved him. 

Image of friends hanging out together

Photo by Sammie Vasquez, via Unsplash.com

So as we come to the conclusion of our wilderness journey, as we enter Jerusalem with Jesus, spend some time in the home of his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, I invite you also to look around your own life, take note of those you have welcomed as friends over the years and who are a part of your life today.   

And from author, Will Cather, I offer one final lesson in friendship with which I think Jesus would agree: “Ain’t it wonderful how much people can mean to each other?”


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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#MoravianLenten Campaign

Join the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) in engaging existing and new audiences this Lenten season! We are sharing our identity through the people and faces of our churches, fellowships, and ministries. We hope this campaign will reflect the light of Christ in a challenging world and generate interest in both our Moravian church and the Christian Church at large.

The #MoravianLenten campaign, launched Ash Wednesday and running through Easter, collects reflections, stories, memories about the season of Lent as informed by individuals’ Moravian Christian faith and heritage. While not limiting ourselves to a diversity of participants, we are placing a priority on sharing young adults and college age Moravians’ reflections.

How to Participate

 There are two ways to participate. The campaign runs through Easter.

1) In-house content 
  • These are reflections (professional photo with graphics added in Photoshop) produced by the BCM
  • The format follows that of these images above and below, with the full reflection posted as a caption, example here on Instagram
  • Our goal is to post two a week, Monday and Friday, during the season of Lent
  • We intend to use some of these as social media ads (with formal permission from participants)
  • Participants will be sent a photo of their likeness for their personal use as a thank you!
2) User-generated content 
  • These are reflections, moments, stories, and memories posted on social media by anyone using the hashtag #MoravianLenten
  • Of these, we will share our favorites a few times a week on our social media accounts (dependent on campaign response)

Reflections only need to be two paragraphs or so at most!

Wondering what hashtags are and how do to use them? Read this article here.

Contact Andrew David Cox, Communications Project Manager for the BCM, at Andrew@MoravianBCM.org to participate in our in-house content.

Photo permission release for in-house content:

To agree, replace “YOUR NAME HERE” with your full name below, and reply to this email. Alternatively, sign a printed form which can be obtained at the Moravian BCM offices when you do your Lenten reflection. Please indicate if you desire for only your first name to be used, but sign the form with your full name. Thank you!

“I, YOUR NAME HERE, understand that as a part of the #MoravianLenten marketing/social media campaign, the Moravian Church staff will photograph my likeness or use a preexisting photo of my likeness. I acknowledge existing photo(s) are my own work or that I have proper permission to use them and will provide appropriate photo credits if needed. By agreeing to participate in this project, I acknowledge that the Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) and the Moravian Church has permission to freely use my image/likeness/name/congregational affiliation on their websites, social media sites, in their publications, and their advertising related to the campaign. I acknowledge that the BCM and the Moravian Church also have permission to use my Lenten reflection for the campaign and may edit it as necessary for clarity and length.”

Beth Hayes #MoravianLenten

Brad Bennett #MoravianLenten

Jamie Dease #MoravianLenten

Zach Dease #MoravianLenten

Confirmation… An Ever Changing Process

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APRIL 18, 2016

Growing up in the Presbyterian Church and being confirmed as a teenager is not so vastly different from the process that Moravians take in their confirmation practices. Those memories of confirmation for me are everlasting. I developed relationships with adult mentors who cared enough about me to help me in this step in my faith. I truly felt like a worthy member of a congregation when given tasks during confirmation, such as baking communion bread with my family, and preparing the elements for a communion Sunday. Even the small task of making sure there was a glass of water in the pulpit each Sunday for the pastor… it may seem meaningless, but it is far from that. I learned the importance of even the smallest of tasks and made those next steps in my faith journey. It truly made me feel like a member of a congregation that could contribute something.

Book Cover

Click above image to see more about this book at our online Resource Center library!

As I was fortunate enough to spend some time this year reflecting on my faith journey and what each step meant to me, I ran across a new book, 100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation: A Guide for Parents and Youth Leaders. It was written by Rebeccca Kirkpatrick and published by Westminister John Knox Press in 2015. What a read it is! Not only for parents, but Sunday School teachers and youth leaders, as we strive to make confirmation be the most meaningful experience it can be. Drop by the Resource Center and borrow it for an excellent read about planting, feeding, watching growth, and understanding an experience such as confirmation.

In Bill Gramley’s piece for Moravian confirmation, Confirmation: A Graceful Step, he refers to confirmation as an opportunity for young people to make a public profession of their faith in Jesus Christ. It is a time when they confirm the steps that have already been taken for them by their parents or guardians, usually by virtue of infant baptism. It allows them to become more aware of the meaning of Christianity and be more deliberate in their response to God’s purpose for their lives. Confirmation is one of the milestones of faith that congregations can celebrate with a young person. It is truly an important step as it gives the opportunity to learn more about the Bible, theology, and what it means to be a member of a Moravian church.

Rev. Matthew Allen leading confirmation on Palm Sunday this year at Olivet Moravian.

Rev. Matthew Allen leading confirmation on Palm Sunday this year at Olivet Moravian.

Many of your churches may be at the end of this process with confirmation taking place during Holy Week or Pentecost. I challenge you not to stop here. We are offering a wonderful opportunity this summer for you to take this process one step further. At the August 14, 2016 Moravian Children’s Festival and Lovefeast, attendees will have the unique opportunity to visit many of the provincial agencies and learn about the work that they do for the church. This event is open to Moravians of all ages! The street will be closed and groups will be able to walk from the square, up Church Street to God’s Acre, stopping at the Board of Cooperative Ministries offices and Resource Center, Board of World Mission, and more. Make your plans now to bring your confirmation group even if you have ended the process. What a wonderful opportunity to continue those treasured relationships you have developed by showing the workings of the Moravian Church.Beth Hayes portrait

It is truly a graceful step, but just one of the first steps of following Jesus. It is not the end of one’s faith journey, but a gift that is received by our faith and proven through discoveries yet to be revealed. Help your young people continue this journey! Bring them to the Children’s Festival and use the opportunity to enrich their faith journey, as well as see the buildings and people that make up the Moravian Church today.

If you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

 

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) 

Holy Week for Children

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Are you surprised that I am offering this resource for congregations to consider? It’s true that I believe school-aged children and those learning to read would benefit a great deal from attending Holy Week readings with their family. It is a beautiful Moravian tradition that should not be forgotten. What better time than Holy Week to give a child their own book of Holy Week readings as a special family milestone and to participate in these readings together. But we also have many visitors to our Resource Center ask, BlogADCLaurelRidgeDSC_0791“What can we do with the children during the Holy Week readings?” We should provide a resource for situations where children are separated during the Holy Week readings, so that they too experience faith formation during this time.

At the link is a Lenten children’s experience developed from various Scripture passages used in the Holy Week readings coupled with some rich children’s resources.

May this most Holy season be truly blessed for each of you. Spend some family time together. Enjoy the rich Moravian traditions of the Holy Week readings, Easter sunrise service, and, of course, hot cross buns! And, if you do separate children from the Holy Week reading services, please consider this model of Holy Week Readings for children.102015bethhayesportrait

If you have questions or need additional information to enrich your Lenten season, please email (bhayesATmcsp.org – replace the “AT” with @) or call me at the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes, Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)