Every December during the Advent season, we celebrate the coming of Christ with a traditional Love Feast. This service of carols and anthems, sweet buns and hot beverage, and the lighting of homemade beeswax candles has come from our friends in the Moravian Church. The Moravian Church, which dates back to in 1457, is generally recognized to be the oldest Protestant denomination, growing out of a movement led by John Hus of Bohemia to reform the church of his day.
In 1727, to memorialize an outpouring of the Holy Spirit after a particularly contentious period in the life of the community, Moravians who had been sheltered on the large estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf in Germany revived the agape meal of the early church . The first Lovefeasts of the Moravian Church in North America were held in Savannah, Georgia, during the years 1735-1740. Prominent features of the Lovefeast are the singing of hymns and anthems, the reading of scripture, and the “feast.” At the Christmas Lovefeast the lighting of candles is added. The Moravians, who have a rich musical heritage, let the texts of the carols and anthems become the message for the Christmas Lovefeast – hence, no sermon.
The Love Feast should not be confused with Holy Communion, which also has an important place in Moravian worship. Its meaning cannot be defined easily. Fellowship is one of the major themes, in that all participate in the token meal together. Other themes are thanksgiving for God’s blessings, and joy in being able to assemble together. Most importantly, there is always the unseen guest – Jesus Christ.