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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ask the Matriarch - Welcoming the New Year

Can you believe it's almost 2007? My goodness. I'm having enough trouble believe it's Thursday again already. I have a potluck tomorrow, three gift cards to buy before stores close tonight, an eye appointment in the morning and my son calls me at 3 pm saying he wants to participate in tonight's chorus recital after all. So humble apologies for being late, but I had to get some of the "tonight" work done "this afternoon," and still, I'm rushing. Yikes!

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
other RevGals.

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 Lovefeast
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?


  1. Wow those evil elves really get around (i had to try several times to leave this comment) By the by- You need to read about Real Live Preacher's belly button lint (no that's not a typo) it's for sale on ebay...last I heard the bid was $76.00. For a belly (button?) laugh-- read rlp....merry merry and find those darn elves please...gail

  2. I must have been sleeping when this question came through. I don't remember it. Then again, I don't remember high school.

    Anyway, I used to live in Moravian land. Attended a lovely wedding at Moravian Seminary. I've attended a half dozen love feasts.

    The buns (or cookies at Christmas) and mugs of usually hot chocolate (generally brought in in trays of white mugs....all steamy and exciting) are a part of it. But another piece of it, at least at the love feasts that I have been present for, has been hymn singing. At Christmas it's carols, but other times just hymns. There are also scriptures and prayers, but usually not a sermon. At least not at the ones that I attended.

  3. oh, and people sometimes sat in their "classes" for the service. (you are a young adult (teen), single, married, widowed--by gender. children sat with married women or married men.) They don't do it all the time, but sometimes. In really old moravian settlements, folks used to live in houses with their classes---all the young women in one, single women in another, etc. Only marrieds with children live in houses. They don't live like that anymore (although the singles (aka spinsters) house is now a really nice B and B where I stayed.) but sometimes sit like that for love feasts.
    The services are really beautiful. Candles and hot chocolate and music and lots of coziness. It would be a really sweet New Year's Eve service.

  4. Wow, it does sound just beautifully meaningful. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Hmmm.... sounds like donuts and coffee with the choir before service every Sunday could ALMOST equal a lovefeast??



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