Moravian Candle Tea, Dec. 18, 2016, 5pm

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Title:Moravian Candle Tea, Dec. 18, 2016, 5pm

Dec. 18, 2016 (full size gallery)

After a unseasonably warm Advent 4 with the Christmas Play, the weather dipped 20 degrees or more with gusty wind and intermittant rain during the afternoon.

We still had 18 to enjoy the Candle Tea at 5pm and then the Love Feast service afterwards.

The Candle Tea is a reception highlighting Moravian customs. Ours was held late in Advent. In Moravian communities, the Candle Tea is a community open house and craft fair regarded by many as the opening event of the Christmas season. wearing traditional 18th-century costumes; served sugar cake and coffee in the pews while listening to the music, songs and history of the Moravian Church. Many customs are made on the spot, including beeswax candles. The Putz or manger scene often showed the history of the community.

We didn’t do all of this that since the Candle Tea was only the first event of the evening. We had pumpkin muffins, apple cake, chocolate, fruit and cheese among items. Hot sweet Moravian coffee was also served. The Putz was a manger scene with traditional Moravian greenery.

The Lovefeast began about 5:45pm. The Moravian Church’s celebration of the Lovefeast recalls a special event in the history of this denomination on August 13, 1727. Early Moravians lived in a communal society. The church was facing difficulties. As the members met in the church they experienced spiritual renewal led by the Holy Spirit. Because of this experience they did not wish to end the service. Facing the practical need to eat they decided to continue their worship but to bring food and eat together in the service. This experience known as the renewal of the Moravian church is celebrated annually on the Sunday nearest August 13th.

Today Love Feasts are held several times in Moravian churches with the Christmas one being one of the largest. At Central Moravian in Bethlehem, PA they are expecting 3,000 this year in several services.

The modern Lovefeast meal consists of a Moravian bun and coffee held in the middle of the service. (We substituted cider). Celebrants sing hymns built around a scriptural theme during the serving and enjoy sacred choral music while partaking of the lovefeast. The sacred choral music for us was a series of Christmas hymns since we did not have the choir. You can find the bulletin here.  

After opening Christmas guitar music from Karen Richardson, we sang advent hymns, such as "Creator of the stars of night"  leading up to Luke’s Christmas story. Then at the Love Feast with hymns "In the Bleak Midwinter", "What Child is This", "Away in a Manger" as the coffee and love feast buns were distributed by Kimberly and Tucker.

The beeswax candles were distributed next by Elizabeth and we sang "Candle Glowing."  On the last verse of "Angels from the Realms of Glory" we held our candles high "  to show your desire to receive and share the light of Christ."

For many it was a very meaningful service and also a pause before the hectic Christmas week. Catherine, Eunice and Karen prepared it all with the food, the concept of the service and the candles. They considered it a gift to the St. Peter’s community. We thank them for their  gift! One gift that will be with us through Christmas is a new Moravian star from  Winston-Salem a center of Moravian customs.


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