No Sunday Activities on January 13, 2019

We’ll miss being together on Sunday, January 13, but with the anticipated icy conditions, we want to be safe. We will observe our mission emphasis and enjoy some of the special music scheduled for January 13 on January 27.

January 13 is the second Sunday of Epiphany. You’ll find the scripture readings for the day here. The focus is on the baptism of Jesus. Think back to your own baptism. Do you remember it? Many of us were infants when we were received as members of our childhood faith communities. What does it really mean to be baptized? As Moravians, baptism is a little different from other denominations in that, like Jesus’s baptism, it is a communal event. You can remind yourself about the sacrament of Baptism on the Moravian Church in North America website.

Jesus’s baptism is a significant event. Ronald J. Allen talks about this in his commentary on the Working Preacher website:

“When Jesus came to be baptized, he came to be publicly identified as the pivotal figure in the movement towards the realm. Moreover, his baptism signaled that God was now taking steps through the ministry of Jesus to signal that the turning of the ages expected by John has now begun to take place. As preachers are want to say, it is both present and future: its signs in the present point to the future consummation at Jesus’ return.

Jesus’ baptism takes place in community. It is not a private occurrence. This communal dimension reminds listeners that they when they are baptized, they become part of a new social world. My sense is that a good many people today are moving away from the radical individualism of modernity and are longing for community.

The voice from heaven (God’s voice) identifies Jesus as God’s son, in whom God is well pleased. In first century context, these words have less to do with the nature of Jesus and more with his purpose. God’s words recall two texts. The Jewish people used Psalm 2 at the coronation of a new monarch. In 2:7, God adopts the monarch as God’s son. Thus, God adopts Jesus as divine representative in the final transition from old age to new age.”

We hope you find your time at home refreshing and relaxing. We look forward to seeing you next Sunday!

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Unity’s Watchword for 2019

On Sunday, December 30, 2018, ushers distributed baskets of  “watchwords” for 2019 to those in attendance. Pastor Barry invited everyone to select their own personal “Watchword” for the year. He selected the following text for the congregation.

“We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” -I Corinthians 2:12

The Tradition of the “Watchword”

The roots of this long-standing tradition go back to the Renewed Moravian Church, a small group of refugees forming their own community of faith on the estate of Count Nicholas Ludvig von Zinzendorf, a Saxon nobleman.

On May 3, 1728, during the evening service, Count Zinzendorf gave the fledgling congregation a “watchword” for the next day. It was to be a “Losung” (watchword) to accompany them through the whole day.

Thereafter one or more persons of the congregation went daily to each of the 32 houses in Herrnhut to bring them the watchword for the day, and engage the families in pastoral conversations about the text.

From this oral tradition, the Daily Texts soon became fixed in printed form. Zinzendorf compiled 365 watchwords for the year and the first edition of the Losungen was published for 1731. Now printed in over 51 different languages and dialects and with an annual press run of nearly one and a half million, the Daily Texts is probably the most widely read devotional guide in the world, next to the Bible itself.

“The watchword is either a promise, an encouragement, an admonition or word of comfort; the doctrinal text contains a point of revealed doctrine.”

By 1812 it was established that all watchwords would be drawn by lot from a selection of Old Testament texts, and the doctrinal texts would be selected from the New Testament. By the end of the nineteenth century, the custom was established to relate the two texts in theme or thought.

Over the years, congregations began a tradition of distributing scriptures for people to select their own personal watchword (a scripture to guide or inspire them through the year) during the Watchnight (New Year’s Eve) Service or at a service held near the first of the new year.