Truly a Gift
by Tony Disher
Growing up in Home Moravian Church, as a child I always found Christmas to be a magical time of year. One of my earliest memories is that of worshipping at Home Church on Christmas Eve, a tradition that started when I was 3 years old and has continued unbroken for the past 62 years. As soon as I entered the sanctuary, the cedar and narcissus decorations delighted my eyes and their heady aroma filled the whole place, wafting all the way up to the balcony where my family traditionally sat.
After what seemed like hours of squirming in the pew, a new smell arose and overtook the fragrance of cedar and narcissus. It was the delicious aroma of lovefeast coffee, its origin unknown. I could hardly wait for the lovefeast to begin! As the buns and coffee were passed down the pews, I waited with growing anticipation for the pastor to initiate the blessing, so I could start drinking my warm cup of sweet creamed lovefeast coffee. The seed of a gift from God, yet to be realized, was firmly rooted in me before I even started elementary school.
My call to be a lovefeast coffee maker was finally realized in 1996 when Tom Spangler, then head lovefeast coffee maker, called and invited me to assist him in making the lovefeast coffee for the August 13th Renewal Lovefeast Service. One of the many things Tom taught me in the three years I was under his guidance is that the making of lovefeast coffee is truly a gift. Tom faithfully made lovefeast coffee for Home Moravian Church for 50 years. He entrusted that gift to me and I, in turn, have shared that gift with my cousin Wayne, my brother Bill and both of my sons, Hamilton and Harrison.
For the past 22 years, I have awakened on Christmas Eve at 5:00 a.m. Each year I drive in the quiet and darkness of the pre-dawn hour, arriving at Home Church by 5:30 a.m. to warm the 21- and 35-gallon copper urns. Once the urns are full of water and the fire is going, I walk upstairs from the lovefeast kitchen to the Sanctuary and sit in the darkness for about 15 minutes, reliving those childhood memories complete with the fragrance of cedar and narcissus and the scent of beeswax. I imagine the aroma of lovefeast coffee, which will soon intermingle with and then overpower all the other wonderful Christmas smells. I also know that, in a few short hours, I will hear the clanging of empty coffee mugs and children singing the Morning Star hymn. In the quiet darkness of the empty sanctuary, however, I grasp the key that unlocks the true mystery of the Christmas Eve Lovefeast. It is a celebration of gift and promise!
Wherever we are geographically and whatever our Christmas tradition might be, we all share in one amazing gift: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who dwelt among us, full of grace and truth! God’s gift to us remains as powerful today as it was on that very first Christmas Eve! The fullness of grace and truth is God’s promise to us. The Christmas Eve Lovefeast is so meaningful to me because it is a celebration of both the gift and the promise. Not only does God give God’s self to us through God’s son, Jesus Christ, but also God promises us a full life, brimming with grace and truth. The grace of God means that we, as Christians, can speak the truth to one another and trust that we will be heard without fear of retribution. The promise means that when the light of Christ within us begins to burn low, God can be trusted to rekindle that light through the simple warmth of a cup of lovefeast coffee and the soft glow of a hand-made beeswax candle. God became flesh and dwelt among us: what a wondrous gift to contemplate on Christmas Eve!
The day will be a long one for me. A total of 2,800 cups of lovefeast coffee will be brewed for the four Christmas Eve services held at Home Moravian Church. Those four services are Home Church’s gift to the community, but the making of the lovefeast coffee is also a gift. It is my gift to Home Church, to the dieners and worshippers alike, and above all, it is my gift to God. As I make my way from the lovefeast kitchen to the balcony during the final lovefeast of the day, the realization of God’s greatest gift to us is rekindled in my heart through the lingering warmth of the lovefeast coffee and the glowing of each candle burning brightly before me. As I hold my candle high during the singing of the last hymn, I look out over the congregation and what is reflected back at me causes me to “sing with awe and love’s sensation… Hallelujah, God with us!”
- Great gift - MOC candles
- Christmas services at Home Church
- Time to decorate the Sanctuary
- New hearing devices available for use
- Copies of “Photo Booth” photos
- Church Council election results
- Community lovefeasts for seniors and patients
- Stewardship and children
- Diggs-Latham “Holiday Store 2019”
- Watchnight Service at Konnoak Hills
- Up on the Roof: a rare gift opportunity
- More links: "Compassionate Communication," music schedules, birthdays, Women's Fellowship, board reports
Men of the Church candle sales
The Men of the Church will be selling handmade beeswax candles outside the Saal after worship each Sunday through Christmas. The candles are also available in the church office. $5 for a box of two 10” candles and $85 for a case of 10” candles. They make great Christmas gifts!
Home Church Christmas Lovefeast Service - Sunday, Dec. 22: This 5:00 p.m. service will be offered to members of the Home Church family. Childcare is available in our nursery.
Tuesday, Dec. 24 Lovefeasts: 11:00 a.m. Children’s Lovefeast; 2:30 p.m.; 5:00 p.m.; and 7:45 p.m. All children are invited to join us in these services; there will be no childcare available.
Special Announcement - In consultation with our Ushers Committee, the Board of Elders has approved the recommendation that our Sanctuary will be closed between the Lovefeast services at 11:00 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve. This will allow adequate time for the cleaning and preparation work necessary for each service. The Sanctuary doors will be opened to ALL worshippers one hour before each service. Ushers will be located at each door to assist our worshippers and support our staff as we work to make each service a special part of the Christmas season for so many in our congregation and the community.
Sunday, Dec. 29: 10:00 Worship (NO Sunday School)
Decorating the Sanctuary
Join us at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20. Come to Fellowship Hall and join in the fun of preparing and hanging the greenery. Many hands are needed to accomplish this work. A light supper will be served and reservations are required. Contact the church office to make your reservation. For more information contact IB Southerland at 336-768-0896.
New hearing devices
For hearing aid wearers attending worship in our Sanctuary or programs in the Saal, we can now offer individual telecoil loops. Worn around your neck, the loops can transmit sound from the room's amplification system directly into most hearing aids.
If you don't know how to activate your hearing aids' telecoils, ask your audiologist or check the Information that came with your devices.
Copies of "Photo Booth" photos
If you had a picture made in the Photo Booth at the Home Church Christmas Party and would like extra copies, please email your request to Mark Wright.
Board of Elders – Betsy Bombick, Betty Cole, Catherine Greene; Emma Grimstead & Camden Sear (Youth)
Board of Trustees – Ted Drake, Hal Garner, Toni Kapp; Mary Holton & Emelia Merrick (Youth)
Many thanks to all who agreed to have their names placed in nomination for these leadership positions.
This Advent season, we shared our lovefeast tradition with those who could not come to us. We sang Christmas carols and provided a lovefeast meal at Brookdale Senior Living on Reynolda Road and Creekside Terrace on Old Vineyard Road. For more information, contact Mallie Graham.
Also, we served lovefeast at Forsyth Cancer Center. We met at Forsyth Hospital 9th floor Solarium and covered two floors of the hospital and served patients, their families and nurses. For more information, contact Beth Baldwin.
Stewardship and children
We see and hear the children sing… we watch them head off to Godly Play and to Sunday School. We hear about mid-week programming for them. And yet much of our children’s spiritual formation is invisible. Like a seed buried in the ground, what Home Moravian does with and for our children is visible by its effects. So, what would we see if we pulled back the soil to view the growing plant? I appreciate the glimpses I receive:
- A child requesting prayer for a congregation member who just lost someone he loved
- A child requesting we include God and Christ in our prayers
- A child requesting to hear a Bible story that she heard six months ago
- A child excited to see the retired volunteer who helped last month with a child’s program a month previous
My invitation to us is to greet the children who sit near us… to talk with them, sing hymns with them, learn their names and notice the colors they like to wear. And, yes, my invitation is for us to continue to support the programming that this church so generously provides for our children. My hope is that these Bible stories and these experiences (both holy and temporal) will continue to affect their lives as they grow and mature.
– Margaret Norris
Diggs-Latham “Holiday Store 2019”
Home Church family and friends,
Your generosity was once again appreciated this year at the Holiday Store at Diggs-Latham Elementary School, which has been a blessing to that community and a great opportunity for us to give a little something extra for someone else.
This “store” provided holiday gifts, at no cost to the students, for them to give to parents or other important adults in their lives. This year the store was open on Dec.17 and 18.
Please keep the store in mind for next year. There are approximately 540 students at Diggs-Latham, and we need a new or gently used gift (suitable for an adult) for each student. We’ll collect your donations closer to the time for the Holiday Store next year.
Also, consider volunteering to help students shop and then wrap gifts. There is nothing more heartwarming than to see the happy students taking their gifts home with them.
This project is sponsored by the Home Missions Ministry Team and coordinated by Chris Puryear.
Thank you for your time and donations!
Up on the Roof
We worship in a beautiful Sanctuary in which many of our own ancestors worshipped. We have inherited this beautiful space as a gift. All we have had to do is receive this gift and care for it.
Part of that needed care has come to our attention – that is the roof.
In 1913 the roof structure was changed, and terra cotta tiles were placed. In 1960 these tiles were replaced with tiles with a 50 year life expectancy. Well, it is 2019, almost 60 years later. And indeed, some tiles are missing, many are cracked. In total, 100 tiles need to be replaced, and the underlying support structure repaired.
The cost for each replacement and repair is $175 per tile.
In this upcoming season of giving, the “Up on the Roof” campaign is providing an opportunity for all of us to participate in the restoration of our roof. Your contributions for replacements can be given as a gift in honor, or memory of, individuals.
A card of acknowledgement will be sent to the honoree or the family of the memorialized. The church office can receive your gift – with "Up on the Roof" in the memo line of your check. You may buy as many tiles as you wish. The work is to be started in the new year. We look for this work to be completed by Easter.
Our Church is precious, our community of believers is precious. Let us all help in providing the maintenance of this wonderful space for our children and grandchildren, who are especially precious.
Please mail your check payable to Home Moravian Church, to 529 S. Church St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101.
Put in the memo line, "Up on the Roof."
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
—The Home Church Staff
Jan. 5, 2020, reporting HMC's new vision statement
Author to discuss healing in your relationships
Choir, Men's Chorus, Band rehearsals and preludes
Church Council report 2019
For Spring/Summer sessions of 2020 school year
Best wishes, recovering, sympathy
Thanks from On Wings Like a Dove, revised Child Protection Policy, Church Council, member letter about gun violence