Page 4 - Moravian Messenger October 2018
P. 4

'Is our future in our history?' John 17, 15-23
This is the second part of the sermon given by Br Jørgen Bøytler at the opening service of the 2018 British Provincial Synod.
We are a church of mission. Without the mission, which the early Moravians engaged in, travelling to many locations, locally and overseas, there would be no Moravian Church today. Mission is maybe one of the strongest legacies we have from the past. That will include two aspects: first that we actually agree that mission is paramount, secondly that we actually obey the call to mission and play our role in God's Mission as He has intended us to do. “I ask not only on behalf of these men, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their message,” Jesus said, as we heard. Jesus anticipates the preaching of the Gospel, and he is already then praying for those, who would be known as missionaries and for those, who listen. Finding ourselves busy with mission, busy in loving our neighbors, busy serving our fellow human beings, this is the way, the Lord wants to find us. And exactly for that, we can get inspiration from our past.
We maintain that our Moravian Unity is “a gift, a task, and a witness.” It is more than a precious heritage; it is a powerful witness to the world. We believe that our Unity is a gift of our Chief Elder. Since we all have one Lord and Savior, we are bound together in a fellowship of love and forgiveness. Unity does not mean agreement in all things, but a willingness to love one another, care for one another, and pray for one another. Our Unity is a gift, but it is also a task. We will work together for the healing of the world. And the Unity being a witness reminds us that the way we deal with our issues of concern should be a witness to the world. It is good to remind ourselves, also and maybe especially at synod that our unity as a Moravian Church Province is a gift, a task and a witness.
Being a Christian is a personal issue. However, only on rare occasions, Christianity is individualistic. Life in Christ is usually a life in a congregation, in a church. The Christian communion is a communion of love, based on the love of God, expressed through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
As Christians, as Moravians, we are together in a Christian Communion; we are part of the same Church. A church is
a communion of love, a communion of reconciliation. A church creates room for expressing God's reconciliation with man and our reconciliation as human beings.
So is our future in our history? Well, our history is important, it shapes our identity as Christians and it interprets our identity as Moravians. We have a glorious history of mission, of fellowship, of christologically focused understanding of faith, a history of equality and brotherhood. However, we need to use the historical heritage wisely, so that we are not stuck in history, but ask our Lord to give us creativity, inspiration, imagination, spirit and courage to meet the ever changing world, which is ours, in our generation. It means that when we meet present day challenges, whether being spiritual, ethical/moral, whether being cultural, political or just downright human, we work on giving a Christian response, based on the Gospel, in a Christian discourse and, when possible and helpful, based on our historical Moravian heritage. In other words, history and tradition is not a goal, but a means to reach the world with the good news today.
And so we come back to “truth.” We end up asking, whether we are ready to be sanctified by the truth, whether we understand ourselves as not being of the world, but in the world. Our forefathers in Bohemia and Moravian in the 15th Century and those in Herrnhut and soon after in other locations were passionate in seeking the truth. We should be as passionate. We should be ready to witness to the truth, the truth we believe to be found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus prayed: “May they be completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me and that you have loved them as you loved me.” This is in all its simplicity our prayer. May we, in the Moravian Church, here in this Province and in the worldwide Unity, be completely one, so that the world may know that God sent Jesus Christ and the He has loved us, as the Father loved Him. May we truly be a Unity, united in the truth, Jesus Christ, united in God's love and united in mutual love, inspired by those early Moravians.
Jesus prays for us, even as a Moravian Church: “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth. The Danish Theologian and Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard reminds us that: "The truth is lived before it is understood. It must be fought for, tested, and appropriated. Truth is the way ... Anyone will easily understand it if he just gives himself to it."
So the past of the Moravian Church is not something to which we return, but something that God is recreating, when we are willing to serve. And only when God continues to recreate our church, recreate our witness, every day, every minute, will we be doing, what Jesus asked us to do. Love one another.
John 17, 15-23
15 I'm not asking you to take them out of the world but to protect them from the evil one. 16 They don't belong to the world, just as I don't belong to the world.
17 “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 It is for their sakes that I sanctify myself, so that they, too, may be sanctified by the truth. 20 I ask not only on behalf of these men, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their message, 21 so that they may all be one. Just as you, Father, are inmeandIaminyou,maytheyalsobe one in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they may be one, just asweareone.23Iaminthem,andyou are in me. May they be completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me and
that you have loved them as you loved me.
Br Jørgen Bøytler Unity Board Administrator and Minister of Christiansfeld Moravian Church

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