On to this week's question:
We are thinking of having a "Love Feast" at our church for New Year's Eve as a way to celebrate the things God has done for us as the local Body of Christ this year, and to welcome and invite new people into Christian fellowship and worship our Living God.
I would be interested in hearing of the experiences of how to do this successfully. So far, we have only read about it in the Methodist Book of Worship. I
emailed Rev. Abi and she had a suggestion that I might like to hear from the
Well, we didn't hear from the other Matriarchs, but we'd like to hear from YOU! In the meantime, here's what Rev. Abi had to say about it--she also has some great links that I will post in comments later (or she can, if she beats me to it):
The Moravian Church is one of the very few churches which has a service in its appointed services dedicated to the greatest of virtues, Christian Love. It is called the Lovefeast, after the practice of the Apostolic Church in which a common meal, partaken in love and fellowship, often preceded the Lord's Supper. These "love feasts" are described in 2nd chapter of the Book of Acts. In our Lovefeasts the common meal consists of a plain sweet bun and coffee, tea, or chocolate. It is served to the participants in the pews. After all have been served, the congregation joins in the Moravian table grace:
Come, Lord Jesus, Our Guest to be,
And bless these gifts, Bestowed by Thee.
Bless our dear ones everywhere,
Keep them in Thy loving care.
As they partake, the participants are asked to pray in love for one another, especially for those seated on either side of them. The organist plays softly during the meal.
The Love Feast is not a substitute for the Holy Communion. In the Holy Communion, the symbolism is that God shares with us, His children. In the Love Feast, the symbolism is that the Christian shares with his or her fellow Christians.
Since love is the greatest power in the world, and Christian love is the greatest of virtues, I have often wondered why more branches of the Church do not adopt the Love Feast as one of their appointed services.
Other than the common meal, the Love Feast is a service largely of music, chiefly the singing of hymns of love and fellowship. Occasionally there is a brief address.
I have been a member of one church that used this, and we then used it at my previous appointment once, last year when New Year's day was on Sunday. We had a regular worship of singing, prayers, scripture and brief sermon. Then we had the Love Feast with the Moravian cakes, coffee, tea and the prayer noted above.
For New Year's Eve at my previous church we did an early evening service due to the older ages of the members. It was a brief service of prayers, scripture, and sermon. They were invited to write down their sins from the previous year which we then burned or tore up. And then we used Wesley's covenant renewal:
Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray:
Let me be your servant, under your command.
I will no longer be my own.
I will give up myself to your will in all things.
Be satisfied that Christ shall give you your place and work.
Lord, make me what you will.
I put myself fully into your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart
give it all to your pleasure and disposal.
Christ will be the Savior of none but his servants.
He is the source of all salvation to those who obey.
Christ will have no servants except by consent;
Christ will not accept anything except full consent
to all that he requires.
Christ will be all in all, or he will be nothing.
Confirm this by a holy covenant.
But I have also used the Covenant Renewal Service too.
What other things are we doing to prepare for / celebrate the new year?