History of the Moravian Lovefeast and Candle Service
The Lovefeast: As the early Christians met and broke bread together in token of their fellowship and love, so the members of the Moravian Church family make it a custom to celebrate spiritual occasions by sharing with friends a simple meal called a Lovefeast. Food and drink for the Lovefeast vary with the nationality and location of the congregation. The first Moravian Lovefeast occurred in Bertheisdorf, Germany in 1727.
The Lovefeast is a translation of the Greek word “Agape”, given by Christians after Pentecost to similar gatherings. The Lovefeast, where the symbolism is that of Christians sharing with one another, is not a substitute for the Holy Communion, where the teaching is that God shares with man. The Lovefeast strengthens the spirit of unity and good will among people. It removes, at least for an hour, all social barriers and distinctions. In the service isjoy, dignified by reverence. You are asked to partake of the lovefeast in the belief that Christ is now beside you and your neighbor. Covenant with Him and receive a new Christ, who is the light of the world, the bright and morning star, and resolve to hold aloft your own light, given to God, and carry that light into the world
The Coffee and Lovefeast Bun: The Lovefeast Buns are made from a traditional recipe which includes citron and orange peel for flavoring. The slash marks on the top of the bun are often mistaken by many to be a “M” for Moravian, but they are actually a “W”, the mark of Winkler Bakery, the original bakery in Salem NC, still in operation today.
The coffee is decaffeinated and is pre-mixed with sugar and cream. It is served in the simple, white, porcelain mugs that have been used in almost all Moravian Churches since the earliest days of the tradition.
The Candle and Wax: The candles have traditionally been created from hand-pouring beeswax into tin molds (These are often handed down through the generations). They are then trimmed, or hand-wrapped, in flame-proof crepe paper to prevent hot wax from dripping onto the holder’s hands.
The Moravian custom of distributing lighted candles during a church service was actually begun at an informal children’s service in Marienborn, Wetteravia (Germany) in 1747. The children were publicly examined on their knowledge of the Christmas story and their original poems were read.
The wax is a mixture of beeswax and tallow, products of the flesh that represent Jesus' humanity. The lighted wick burning with the wax stands for His divinity. The red paper reminds us of the Saviour’s passion and death for our sins. The lighted candle represents the sacrifice of Christ for humanity and the flame of love which He came to kindle in our hearts. The message of the candle is that this flame of love will burn forever to His joy and our salvation. “Let your light so shine before men (to lead others to Him) that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Simply reading about the service doesn't do it any justice, these videos will help further your understanding of the tradition and what it means to us!