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Message based on 1 John 4:1-13
Our Scripture passage this morning will be among the daily readings in our Daily Text for Monday, August 13th. One of the most remarkable movements of the Holy Spirit in all of church history took place in 18th-century Germany. In those days, there was no religious freedom in Europe. Many groups had to flee their homelands. A wealthy Lutheran nobleman, Count Nicolas Ludwig Von Zinzendorf, opened his lands in Saxony to any whom had to flee their homelands because of their religious belief. He called the settlement Herrnhut, the “Lord’s watch,” and Protestants from Germany, Moravia, and Bohemia found refuge there. It was a mixed community–Lutherans, Moravians, Reformed, Separatists, Anabaptists, and even a few Roman Catholics. The surrounding communities accused Zinzendorf of harboring a nest of heretics, and the refugees at Herrnhut soon began criticizing each other and arguing over their different beliefs. Zinzendorf could have forced the quarreling groups to move out, but he believed the Lord was calling this group to great things.
Patiently, he worked for unity of the Christians at Herrnhut. He devoted himself to prayer and reconciliation. Zinzendorf addressed the community on the importance of Christian unity. The people confessed that their disagreements among themselves had hindered their relationship with God and each other. These words from 1 John began to take on new meaning during this summer.
Beloved let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (I John 4:7)
Herrnhut became a living congregation of Christ. The entire summer of 1727 was a golden one at Herrnhut as the community worked together in reconciliation, peace and love. In the days leading up to August 13thtwo significant events took place. First, on August 5th, Zinzendorf and fourteen of the Brethren spent the entire night in conversation and prayer. On August 10th, Pastor Johann Andreas Rothe and the church members who were present were so overcome by God’s presence during an afternoon service at Herrnhut that they continued to worship until midnight, praising God and singing. The next morning, Pastor Rothe invited the Herrnhut community to a joint communion with his nearby congregation at Bethelsdorf on Wednesday August 13th. Count Zinzendorf visited every house in Herrnhut in preparation for this Lord’s Supper encouraging all to attend. During the service, they made many painful prayers for themselves, for fellow Christians still under persecution, and for their continued unity. August 13th was a day of the outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon the congregation; it was the Moravian Pentecost. Like the first Pentecost, men and women would be inspired to share the gospel with others. Moravians launched missionary efforts in a time when Protestant missions were unknown.
My hope and prayer this day is that the Holy Spirit will energize us. May we renew our commitment to serve God and others! Holy Communion for us today, like our brothers and sisters so long ago on August 13th, is a time for us to come to God and ask for forgiveness for our sins. Holy Communion is a time for us to put aside our differences and unite together to serve God’s Kingdom with respect and love for all.
The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.
August 12, 2018