|Moravian Stars in the Strietzelmarkt in Dresden|
A 'Lovefeast" sounds positively bohemian, doesn't it? It conjures up for me images from the 60's of a "Love In". Peace, love, drug, sex and and rock 'n roll. Cool. Groovy. Far out, man!
That's not it. At. All. Or, at least, so I'm told.
Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.
I haven't been told to wear flowers in my hair or bring a 'bowl of greens' - but, being good Episcopalians, there's bound to be at least a few bottles of good wine - so I think I'm safe in assuming that, what little I've read is correct in that
As the early Christians met and broke bread together in token of their fellowship and love, so the members of the Moravian Church family have made it their custom to celebrate special occasions by sharing with friends a simple meal, a "lovefeast." The name of the service is a literal translation of the New Testament word "agape." A Lovefeast (not to be confused with Holy Communion) seeks to remove social barriers and strengthen the spirit of unity and goodwill among all people. A Lovefeast, in fact, is a Singstunde (an hour of song) which incorporates a simple meal.I'm thinking that this will be a little like the Agape Meal that often precedes the Maundy Thursday Service except that one tends to be Very Somber - a reenactment of the meal that was shared in the Upper Room before Jesus was arrested and put on trial.
So, there's lots of olives and a variety of cheeses and pita bread and dates and grapes. There can also be the reading of appropriate scriptural verses and psalms and the singing of hymns.
The "Lovefeast", celebrated on The Feast of the Epiphany, is bound to be quite festive. It's 12th Night, after all - the 'official' end of Christmastide and the beginning of the Season of The Epiphany.
I love The Epiphany. Almost as much as I love Christmas.
Unfortunately, Christmas has become so secularized that I, even I, have a hard time remembering "the reason for the season". I love that my grandmother insisted that Christmas presents be exchanged on The Feast of the Epiphany, leaving us to consider the holy gift of the Incarnation at Christmas.
I love that, after we consider the holy gift of the Christ child, we share gifts with each other in honor of the birth of Jesus. It really doesn't matter to me that the "Three Kings" probably came three years and not 12 days after the Nativity. It matters that we take time to consider the gift of the Incarnation and then share gifts with each other in His honor.
Author Philip Jenkins has an interesting article in the December 27th issue of Christian Century about the Season of Timkat - an important, three-day celebration of the 40-million-member Orthodox Church of Ethiopia.
Actually, the event commemorates the baptism of Christ in the Jordan (Timkat is the Amharic word for 'baptism'). Jenkins says that "baptismal symbolism dominates the rituals to the point that enthusiastic believers plunge into consecrated pools to renew their vows".
Christians in the Orthodox tradition, do not link Epiphany to the visit of the Magi but, rather, to Christ's baptism, and thus returns us to the controversy that consumed the early church for the first three centuries when believers had very different ideas about the divinity of Christ and whether there was a particular moment at which he gained that status. Yes, Christ came into the world - but when, exactly, did that divinity shine forth?
Some cry, "Heresy!" at this notion. And yet, 40 million Christians who consider themselves "Orthodox" will see hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flood into Ethiopia to join them, with individual churches processing and parading their 'tabots' - symbols of the Ark of the Covenant.
Well, whether it's the manifestation of the divinity of Christ in his baptism or by the recognition of the same by three secular "Kings", I think it all comes down to the way John's gospel (1:1) speaks of the Incarnation: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God".
And, that word was LOVE.
I suppose a 'Moravian Lovefeast' is just as good as a plunge in a pool of consecrated water.
So's our family's "Little Christmas" celebration.
It really matters not how you celebrate the manifestation of "Love incarnate, Love divine".
It matters THAT you celebrate it. Preferably, with someone - or those - you love.
The motto of the Moravian church is: "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love".
Sounds like a manifestation of God to me!