October 11, 2009
The Love feast has become one of the most celebrated Festivals in the Moravian Church. It is a festival that touches the core of what it means to be Christian or Christ-like. One cannot rightly celebrate the Love feast without touching those who seem untouchable or unlovable. It challenges one to reach out and touch even when it is difficult so to do.
The Love feast is a Biblical concept that became a part of the Pentecost experience after the day of Pentecost. It is associated with fellowship, togetherness, love and Christ-likeness. The Book of Acts records: “And they, continued daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2: 46-47). These verses speak to the heart of what the Love feast ought to be. They were with one accord. They broke bread from house to house. They ate with gladness and singleness of heart. They praised God and had favour with all the people and the Lord multiplied their numbers. There was a genuine desire to serve God, not only with their lip, but from their heart and that was demonstrated in their daily living.
Moravian Church adopted this Festival and made it a part of its Custom and genuinely practiced it. However, it faded and became meaningless after the renewal of the Moravian Church in 1722. Coming out of persecution and hiding several groups with different interest lived at Herrnhut. They did not always see things the same way and very often had bickering and bitter infightings amongst themselves. The community was then being destroyed not from the outside, but from the inside. Something miraculous or supernatural had to take place. It all happened on August 13, 1727 in the Bertlesdorf Chapel, just outside of Herrnhut.
The revival of this custom in the Moravian Church at Herrnhut followed the rich, diverse and dynamic of unity and fellowship in the historic Communion Service on Wednesday August 13, 1727. From a group of warring people in worship, the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) moved them to tears in such a miraculous way that for the first time in years they reached across the aisles and embraced each other and cried on each others shoulder. There was genuine forgiveness of the past and they pledged to begin afresh. Count Zinzendorf felt that it was such an awesome experience as the people kept fellowshipping, that he sent for food to sustain them. No one wanted to go home, so they continued to engage in prayer, religious conversation and the singing of hymns in order for them to be able to stay undisturbed together. Since the August 13, 1727 experience, the Love feast has continued to be a part of Moravian life and witness.
There are two kinds of Love feasts. There is a Love feast preceding the celebration of the Lord’s Supper and one celebrating a Festival, whether of the whole Church, or of a group within the Church. It is held both to demonstrate and promote the fellowship of Christian believers through their fellowship with Christ. The service can be constructed to suit ones needs at any particular time. However, the characteristic features are the singing of hymns, prayers, the reading of a Scripture passage on love, a brief address on an appropriate topic for the occasion, the serving of a simple meal where persons share with each other. Generally, Bun and Ginger beer or Bun and Coffee/Tea are served. The right hand of fellowship is one of the high points of this service.