In the 1966 musical Mame, the song “We need a little Christmas” comes right as the main characters hit rock bottom. And, as if the very act of calling upon the Spirit of Christmas could change their circumstances, that moment does indeed become the turning point.
Our world, our country, and our denomination need a little August 13 right this very minute. As Moravians, we celebrate the unique Pentecost of our church on August 13. It’s the day in 1727 when the Holy Spirit came to us and changed everything. We were called to unity, community, and evangelism.
But to fully appreciate August 13, 1727, you must know what led to it. There had been great division and disagreement among the religious refugees in Herrnhut. According to The Rev. Ginny Tobiassen in her 2016 blog, the villagers had been arguing over forms of worship and religious doctrine. A divisive and charismatic preacher named Kruger had emerged. The group was divided. And, as Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” It might have been the end of the Moravians. And they knew it.
But they did something remarkable. They prayed that God would pour out the Holy Spirit on them. In his 2013 article, The Rev. Ray Burke describes months of meetings, prayers and preparation leading up to August 13, 1727.
And on that Wednesday, long ago, the Holy Spirit did come – not so much as a random act, but as answered prayer. Our church was reborn. Moravians received a special calling and spirit of unity, community, and evangelism. They focused upon their agreement instead of disagreement. They chose to live in harmony instead of discord. They decided to preach the gospel to the world. And yes, the first modern lovefeast happened in the middle of this spiritual renewal because those present did not want their worship and fellowship to end.
Moravian sisters and brothers, we are The Unity that formed that day. The world, our country, and our denomination need this special gift now more than ever. Let us be in prayer, as our forebearers were, that we might be the healing balm in this time and place. That we might help ourselves and others bridge divides over non-essentials. That we might help ourselves and the world find unity in facing the essential challenges of our day. And that we might experience and exemplify love in all things.