The Lovefeast is a tradition in the Moravian Church, which comes out of an earlier reforming movement started sixty years before Luther’s reforms in what is now the Czech Republic. Under the leadership of John (Jan) Hus, a Roman Catholic priest, reforms to the church’s hierarchy and practices were begun. These reforms were so threatening to the church that Hus was tried at the Council of Constance and burned at the stake in 1415. But the reforming community in Moravia and Bohemia lived on, especially with the leadership of Count Nicolas Ludwig von Zinzendorf beginning in 1722. Welcoming those fleeing religious persecution to his estate in Saxony, Germany Zinzendorf contributed to the expansion of the religious life of the Moravians. In particular morning and evening devotions became an important part of their common life, a pattern that is still used today in what we know as the Moravian Daily Texts. In addition to their devotional life, the Moravians returned to the custom of the agape meal that was, until the 4th century, an important part of the early church. As the custom of the Lovefeast developed, coffee with cream and simple buns became the food that was shared.
The Lovefeast is a service of music and the sharing of food (the coffee and buns.) The Moravian Church celebrates the Lovefeast throughout the year, but especially at Advent and Christmas. A Lovefeast includes the singing of hymns and carols, special music by choirs, the sharing of food, and candle lighting (when held close to or on Christmas.) Our Lovefeast this year will include special music by all of our AP choirs-the Children’s Choir, Bell Choir and Adult Choir. In addition, our Adult Choir will be accompanied by instrumentalists. Scripture readings, a brief reflection on the readings, and prayers fill out the rest of the service. Holy Communion is not a part of a Lovefeast.
The tradition of celebrating a Lovefeast at Abiding Presence goes back some thirty years when it was held for a number of years during Advent. This year we are picking up this tradition again in place of a more recent practice of Lessons and Carols led by our choirs. We thank Mary Howarth for lining up bakers and coffee servers, and David Howarth for candle boards he made for previous Lovefeasts. We especially thank our choirs, instrumentalists, and Tom Curry, our Director of Music, for the music they are preparing for the Lovefeast.