Christ as Chief Elder Communion Message

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Message based on John 10:1-10

Imagine for a moment that you were seeking employment and saw this description for a position that reads:

Individual sought to provide leadership and oversight for a Protestant Denomination, over one million members worldwide. Responsibilities include providing administrative leadership to all provinces, including all congregations, mission endeavors and local outreach in the world. Candidates should be knowledgeable of the thoughts and beliefs of all Brothers and Sisters belonging to this church. Candidate must be able to provide pastoral care at all times, realizing that each member may bring their concerns and seek counsel. Candidates are required to make sure that all members stand fast in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit. The candidate is expected to be in prayer constantly as they think always of the best interests of the church. In addition candidate must decide any issues of doctrine or discipline in accordance with Scripture.

Would any among us have an interest in applying?

This description is one adapted from Chief Elder of the Moravian Church that an early Moravian leader, August Spangenberg described in the 1700’s. Obviously this position required a great deal of faith and commitment to undertake. Today we celebrate Holy Communion in remembrance of Jesus being elected as Chief Elder of the Moravian Church. Often great events in history have things taking place beforehand that help to shape and influence those events we remember. For the event of November 13th, what happened on September 16thin 1741 forever changed our Moravian Church. In the apartment of Nicolas Zinzendorf in London, England ten people gathered together for their synod that lasted from September 11th– 23rd. At this synod one person recognized that the job of Chief Elder was too big for one person to handle. This person was Leonard Dober who was elected as Chief Elder in 1735. After many years of dedicated service Dober resigned at this synod. Various people were nominated yet no one received unanimous support from those gathered. Finally the question was asked, “Would not the Lord our Savior be so gracious to accept this office for Himself? To Him alone no objection could be raised.”

All members of the synod agreed that this would solve their problem and all accepted Jesus with joy and deep humility. The resignation of Dober was accepted, and his pastoral duties were divided among several others. September 16this recognized as a the Covenant Day of the ministers of the Moravian Church where pastors and Christian educators gather together for a time of prayer and a special service known as the Cup of Covenant. At this synod, it was decided that November 13thwould be the day on which this announcement would be shared throughout the Moravian communities. The purpose of our Communion service this morning is to offer our members and guests the opportunity to realize that Jesus Christ is the Head and Chief Elder of the Moravian Church. He is also the Head of each individual believer, and on this day we should renew our pledge and loyalty to serving Christ.

Our gospel lesson this morning from John sees Jesus telling those gathered that he is the Shepherd. The shepherd was a figure who represented faithfulness, compassion, guidance and protection. Jesus displayed these characteristics in his life. We in turn are his flock, called to follow him and to demonstrate similar qualities.

This is the Lord’s Table. Our Savior invites those who trust him to share the feast he has prepared.

The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.

November 11, 2018

 

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