Traditions

Seal and Motto

The seal of the Moravian Church dates back to the Unitas Fratrum of the 1500s. In the center of the circular shaped-seal is a frequently used symbol of the early Christian church, the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God. The figure of the Lamb holds a staff whose top piece is a cross within a circle and is only partially visible behind the Lamb’s head. From the staff, hangs a banner depicting another cross. Surrounding the seal is the inscription, Vicit agnus noster, eum sequamur, meaning ”Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow Him.”

 

Lovefeasts

The custom of Moravian lovefeasts is based upon the early Christian’s gathering after Pentecost and breaking bread together. The first recorded Moravian lovefeast was in 1727.

Lovefeast is a service of hymns and prayer accompanied by a simple meal usually consisting of a sweetened bun and a mug of coffee. Dieners–men and women of the church–serve these to the worshipping congregation.

At the Christmas lovefeast, the first of which was held for children on December 24, 1747, a lighted, beeswax candle with a red, crepe-paper ruff is given to each worshipper. The beeswax of the candle represents the purity of Christ; the flame, the light of love that Christ brought into a darkened world; and the red ruff the blood of Christ.

 

Easter Sunrise Service

The Moravians of Herrhut first held an Easter Sunrise Service in 1732. The service was so inspirational that it became a custom that was brought to America.

Traditionally, the service begins about two o’clock AM when the church band assembles, then travels throughout the community playing Easter chorales. This is to awaken those who will attend the Sunrise service and to remind all that “The Lord is risen.”

The actual service begins at daybreak when the congregation gathers in front of the church and the minister proclaims, “The Lord is risen!” The congregation responds, “The Lord is risen indeed!” After a brief service, the congregation reverently proceeds to the cemetery while the band plays Easter chorales antiphonally. The liturgy is completed at the cemetery.

 

Advent Wreath

Four Sundays before Christmas Day, the season of Advent begins. The making and using of an Advent wreath is a Christian custom that probably dates back to the Middle Ages.

In our church, a church family volunteers to make the Advent Wreath: a simple circle of greens with four beeswax candles.

On the first Sunday in Advent, a child of the congregation lights the first candle, on the second Sunday, another child lights two candles, and so on until four candles are lit on the fourth Sunday.

 

The Moravian Star

The Moravian Star is a traditional Christmas symbol that is displayed from the first Sunday in Advent until the sixth of January.

It is not known who invented the Moravian Star, but it apparently originated in Niesky, Germany, about 1850. The Verbeek family started producing stars as a cottage industry in the 1880’s and later founded the Herrnhut Star Factory. When the war closed the Herrnhut factory, Moravians in other locales began making the stars.

The star’s number of points and size may vary. Traditionally, they were made of paper, but in recent years, many have been made of plastic. Usually they are white, yellow or red or a combination of two colors. The star that is presently used in our sanctuary is white.

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