April 25th “What is Essential? – Part 1”

A quote from www.moravian.org

The Moravian Church’s official motto is

“Our Lamb has conquered. Let us follow Him.”

In addition, Moravians are guided by these words:

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, love.”

Today’s Moravian Church strives to live the “essentials” of a Christian life:

God creates, God redeems, and God sustains.  We respond to God’s actions with faith, love and hope.

You can learn more at https://www.moravian.org/2019/07/about-the-moravian-church-in-america/

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I love the simple and beautiful ways that Moravians focus on what is essential.  I am going to try to spell out what the essentials are, but please forgive me if I tend to sound a little too Lutheran.  Coming to Moravian teachings has been like “coming home” to me, so maybe I will sound Moravian.

One of the things that make Moravians unique among the Christians fellowships in the world is that we seek unity only in the essentials.  All other issues are relegated as non-essential; what Lutherans call adiaphora (optional extra stuff).

I am going to break the essentials into two groups of three for today and tomorrow.  The first three essentials are about our understanding of God.  The fourth through sixth essentials are about how we respond to God.

First, we know God as Creator.  God is the cause and source of all that was, all that is, and all that ever shall be.  The Bible talks about the Creation of the world in multiple stories and in poetical ways.  No matter when or how it happened, God is the Creator and Maker of all things.   Though the different creation stories in Genesis suggest that God made everything from a preexisting chaos of water and submerged land, the general Christian understanding is that God made everything out of nothing.  God is still the Creator who makes new things, new ideas, and new paths to work in response to rebellious parts of his Creation (including humanity).

Secondly, we know God as the Redeemer, as Jesus Christ.  Our understanding is that Jesus Christ is the incarnation (becoming flesh) of God.  The unseen and unknowable Spirit that is God became a human being with a body like ours and he lived with our needs and frailties.  This was often rejected in the early days of the spread of Christianity because it was unthinkable that the infinite Spirit of God could take on the animal aspects of being human.  The idea that God could become a person who needed food, water, sleep, and air was sometimes considered laughable.  But Jesus is the Son and Redeemer.  Jesus is both completely human and the presence of the Father in the world.  He is more than our idea of Son; he is the one eternal God.  And this Redeemer came to bring atonement, to heal the relationship with God that the human race had broken by rebellion.  Jesus taught us God’s overwhelming love in his words and actions.  Jesus encouraged us to speak to God as our Father (a much more personal name than a dispassionate Creator… and so we tend to refer to God the Creator as “he”).  Jesus gave his life for us even as we cursed, abandoned, and killed him.    We also celebrate the fact that God showed his love to be more powerful than the power of death, by raising Jesus to eternal life.  We believe that God still is the Redeemer/Son as well as Father/Creator, and that we will know Jesus with the coming of his kingdom (or as we come to his kingdom when we die). Jesus continues to redeem people every day.

Thirdly, God sustains us day by day.  We usually refer to this aspect of God as the Holy Spirit (though the Father is also Spirit).   This sustainer is the helper that Jesus promised would come to the early church at Pentecost.  The Sustainer/Holy Spirit is a description of our experience of God working within our thoughts, feelings, and actions.  Through the Spirit we encounter the Father and Son as if they were enthroned in our hearts.  Christians generally believe that the Sustainer is the source of faith, the supplier of conscience, and the movement of God’s redeeming love in us and through us.  We are sustained by the power to respond to God (and all of God’s creation) with faith, hope, and love.

Take some time and consider how you see God’s creativity, God’s redeeming behavior, and the ways that God sustains you each day of your life.

Tomorrow’s message will be about the three other Moravian essentials.

Blessings

Pastor Rick