“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,”Acts 2:46
The Lovefeast: Celebrating fellowship during Advent
One of my absolute favorite Advent traditions is the Moravian Lovefeast. Although not Moravian, both the church that I grew up in and the church that I attended during graduate school adopted this service as a special, Advent worship tradition, packed with carols and scripture readings. Growing up, we were always excited to get to be servers during the service on Christmas Eve, handing out the thin, crisp, Moravian ginger cookies, hot apple cider, and (lit!) candles. During graduate school, I worked with the youth, who organized and ran the Moravian Lovefeast as gift to their church each Advent. I spent more than a decade’s worth of Lovefeasts outside the entrance to the sanctuary, helping the youth wrap the orange spice buns, make sugary, decaffeinated coffee, prepare trays of candles, find the aisle they were supposed to walk down, and attempt to contain their excitement, quietly, until it was time to enter the sanctuary.
For me, singing was one of the highlights of this service, particularly “Silent Night” and “Morning Star, O Cheering Sight”, the antiphonal, call-and-response song. The service always ended in song with only candlelight; everyone raised their candles in representation of Christ’s light coming into the world. The smell of beeswax candles is still strongly associated with Advent for me because of the Lovefeast.
I value the symbolic meaning of the Lovefeast itself, representing agape love. Breaking bread together to celebrate community and fellowship, just as the early Christians did, is a wonderful way to enter into the Christmas season: together, praying the Moravian Table Blessing, “Come, Lord Jesus, our Guest to be, and bless these gifts bestowed by thee. Amen.”