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Quietly Courageous

I am currently reading a book by Gil Rendle called Quietly Courageous which is making an impression on my thinking as we go through this anxious time. He speaks of the wilderness time that Jesus goes through to determine what God is calling him to be and to do. When Jesus returns from the wilderness, he proceeds, not like John the Baptist, not like Judas Maccabees, not like other Messiah figures of Israel’s history, but quietly developing disciples and communities that are built on loving relationships.

Jesus’ core message was that God loved them, God forgives them, God accepts them, even in the midst of their infirmities. Jesus showed this by loving, forgiving, healing and accepting—especially the ones that other communities found unacceptable. The communities that were established on the concept that “Doing unto others as you would have them do to you,” is significantly different than the popular concept of “Do what you want as long as you don’t stop others from doing the same.”

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching about how this “Godly Community” will act toward one another:
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

He also told them a parable:
Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.
(Luke 6: 32—36, 39—40)

How can we be “Quietly Courageous” as we seek to live in community during this time? Might I suggest one small way… can we begin calling it “Physical Separation” instead of “Social Separation?” We are created to be social. We just have to find new ways to continue loving, giving, healing, forgiving as we do our best to remain physically separated for the needed time.

Jesus’ teachings were meant for his time and his community, but we can learn and benefit from his words of wisdom—especially during this coronavirus lock down. The season of Lent was created from the examples in Jewish history when the people found themselves in the wilderness. The wilderness is a place where we may not go voluntarily. And when we find ourselves there, we do not know how long it will last or in what ways we will be changed because of it. While in the wilderness, two questions are needed answering: 1) How will we now be with God? 2) How will we now be with one another?

The first example was Noah and the story of the flood. When nature forces us from our homes and communities, God will be with us as we rebuild. The covenant God makes with us is realized.

The second was the Exodus, and the responses are found in the Ten Commandments and in the organization of the 12 tribes.

The third was the Babylonian conquest, destruction of the Temple, and exile of the community. The responses are found in the Levitical Code, the rebuilding of the temple, and synagogue communities which held the people together in remote areas.

In the New Testament, the fourth example is Jesus’ wilderness experience. And the community’s response to Jesus was to form communities we have called the church, which opened the message of Jesus and God’s grace to those outside of Judaism. A very courageous endeavor indeed!

Maybe this pandemic is our generation’s “wilderness” and we are asked to answer the questions: How will we now be with God? How will we now be with one another?

Maybe this is our time to be quietly courageous.

I end with a prayer from William Sloane Coffin of Riverside Church, which was written during the sixties when our country was torn. It was introduced to me by one of my pastoral mentors and I believe it is needed today:

O God, whose mercy is ever faithful and ever sure, who is our refuge and our strength in time of trouble, visit us we plead, for we are a people in trouble.
We need a hope that is made wise by experience and is undaunted by disappointment.
We need an openness about the future that shows us new ways to look at new things, but does not unnerve us.
As a people, we need to remember that our influence is greatest when our power seemed to be weak.
Most of all, we need to turn to you, O God, and our crucified Lord, for only his humility and his strength can heal and free us.
O God, be our sole strength in this time of trouble.
In the midst of anxiety, grant us the grace to count our blessings: especially health, food, sleep, one another, a spring that is bursting out all over,
a nation which despite all, has so much to offer so many.
Help us, O God, to see our failures as lessons to learn and to grow, our losses of finances as a way to find renewable resources,
our mental anguish as a sign to stop and observe Sabbath rest, and our close encounter with death as a means to appreciate and celebrate life.
Send us forth into a new week with a curious mind, and a free and joyful spirit looking for all the ways the Holy Spirit is showing your glory among us. Amen.

-The Rev. Barry Foster is pastor of Unity Moravian Church, Lewisville, NC.

CoronaVirus Plan

Services and Events
Until further notice, we will not have any services or events at Unity Moravian Church’s physical location in Lewisville, NC. Look for some guidance here soon about online services. Please check back on this page for the latest information. Our hope is to be able to gather together as soon as possible, but in the meantime, we believe we can continue to learn and grow together as a church by worshiping together virtually and with family. You can still invite your friends by sharing this page.

Groups and Meetings
While we will not be holding group meetings at Unity’s physical address for an undetermined time, we encourage groups to continue supporting, praying for, and caring for each other remotely. Check in with each other by email, texts, and calls. Groups may choose to use virtual tools (such as Facebook groups, Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, WhatsApp, and Skype) to continue meeting. All members and friends of Unity are invited to attend our online Wednesday evening Happy Hour using Zoom video conferencing technology. If you’d like the login information for that event, please email us.

Giving
Even though we’re not gathering in-person for church, our needs remain constant and you still have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others by supporting the ministries of Unity. Give online  or mail a check to 8300 Concord Church Road, Lewisville, NC 27023. More information is available on our giving page.

Prayer
Prayer is an integral part of our lives as followers of Jesus. The Unity Prayer Partners lift up to God the needs of the Unity Church family as well as others in the larger Moravian Church and the world. Consider joining our Prayer Team: email usSubmit your prayer request: fill out the Prayer Request Form

Join Our Lenten Wellness Circle!

Please join us on Wednesday evenings from 5:30pm to 7:00pm beginning on February 26, 2020 for a very special Lenten experience. Living Compass Wellness Circles are a committed small group of adults who meet for six sessions. By the time the group sessions end, participants will have had a chance to:
  • discuss how faith informs our wellness and daily decisions;
  • assess our current state of balance and wellness;
  • learn important lessons about change;
  • and set goals for changes we feel called to make.

Many compasses compete to guide our lives. The Wellness Circle experience makes faith the compass that guides decisions in all areas of our lives – heart, soul, strength, and mind. When we use faith as our compass, we are better able to experience wellness and wholeness.

What:               Living Compass Wellness Circles (small groups of 6-8 people) (Download more details about the group experience.)

When:              Lent 2020 (6 Wednesdays: February 26, March 4, March 11, March 18, March 25, April 1) from 5:30pm to 7:00pm (No meal is provided but you are welcome to bring your own “bag supper” if you like.)

Where:             Unity Moravian Church Fellowship Hall | 8300 Concord Church Road, Lewisville, NC

Who:                 Anyone who wants to explore the question: “How is the Spirit calling me to greater wellness and wholeness right now?” Members and non-members are invited to participate. Interested in a parent circle? Let us know when you sign up! Childcare provided. 

How to Sign Up: 

Visit this Google Form (http://bit.ly/UnityWellnessCircles) or use the sign-up sheet in the Narthex (on the round table). You may also call the church office at (336) 945-3801.  A $5 donation is requested to offset the cost of each participant workbook, but no one should consider cost a barrier to their participation. 

Unity’s Watchword for 2020

On Sunday, December 29, 2019, ushers distributed baskets of  “watchwords” for 2020 to those in attendance. Pastor Barry invited everyone to select their own personal “Watchword” for the year. He selected the following text for the congregation.

“Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:15

A Note from Pastor Barry about our 2020 Watchword

It is accepted among New Testament scholars that St. Paul’s longest ministry relationship is with this new Christian congregation he started in Corinth. Today, we have two surviving letters that he wrote to this congregation. Biblical scholars have noted that within these two letters are references to five letters that Paul wrote to them and one that the congregation wrote back to Paul.
Archaeological scholars have found fragments of three of those five letters.

The city of Corinth is within 50 miles of both Athens and Delphi – the religious centers of ancient Greece. To think that it was a difficult place to plant a “new religious community” is an understatement. Not only is Paul “re-defining” Judaism and the prominence of the Torah, he is also presenting a new idea of faith in “God’s Messiah” – who is none other than Jesus, a lowly traveling rabbi who gathered a following for his cause of bringing in a new “kingdom” or new “understanding of God’s intent,” and was falsely accused, condemned, and crucified. Yet, he came back from death and inspired his disciples to continue the cause, and even appeared to Paul and commissioned him to go spread this new religious idea to the Jews who would hear and accept it, but mostly, Paul saw his mission as the messenger to the Gentiles (in this case, Greeks) who would embrace God’s mighty work of redemption for humanity through Jesus, his Messiah.

Earlier in chapter four, Paul describes his own troubles and sufferings as an accepted part of his calling. He infers this because he saw a connection with the sufferings of Jesus. And yet, for Paul,
it is through suffering, it is through weakness, it is through risking one’s own future for the sake of the “cause” that God’s grace is received.

Here in chapter four, verse fifteen, we have Paul’s affirmation that those who enter into this endeavor of bringing the gospel of Christ to as many neighborhoods as possible, will experience this
result: Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

It seems that extending grace to more and more people is our calling. This is the essential purpose. All others are ministerial – important for fulfilling needed tasks – but not our main goal.

God’s blessing be upon us as we enter the two thousand and twentieth year of our Lord; and the fortieth year of our congregation.

The Tradition of the “Watchword”

The roots of this long-standing tradition go back to the Renewed Moravian Church, a small group of refugees forming their own community of faith on the estate of Count Nicholas Ludvig von Zinzendorf, a Saxon nobleman.

On May 3, 1728, during the evening service, Count Zinzendorf gave the fledgling congregation a “watchword” for the next day. It was to be a “Losung” (watchword) to accompany them through the whole day.

Thereafter one or more persons of the congregation went daily to each of the 32 houses in Herrnhut to bring them the watchword for the day, and engage the families in pastoral conversations about the text.

From this oral tradition, the Daily Texts soon became fixed in printed form. Zinzendorf compiled 365 watchwords for the year and the first edition of the Losungen was published for 1731. Now printed in over 51 different languages and dialects and with an annual press run of nearly one and a half million, the Daily Texts is probably the most widely read devotional guide in the world, next to the Bible itself.

“The watchword is either a promise, an encouragement, an admonition or word of comfort; the doctrinal text contains a point of revealed doctrine.”

By 1812 it was established that all watchwords would be drawn by lot from a selection of Old Testament texts, and the doctrinal texts would be selected from the New Testament. By the end of the nineteenth century, the custom was established to relate the two texts in theme or thought.

Over the years, congregations began a tradition of distributing scriptures for people to select their own personal watchword (a scripture to guide or inspire them through the year) during the Watchnight (New Year’s Eve) Service or at a service held near the first of the new year.

Christmas at Unity! 2019 Events

Our neighbors and their families are invited to celebrate Christmas with us at Unity Moravian Church by attending one or all of these events:

Sunday, December 1         

Candle Trimming (5:30pm)
Bring your family and learn how to “dress” the hundreds of beeswax candles in special red paper trim used for our traditional Christmas lovefeast and candle services.  We enjoy snacks together once the work is done! Kid-friendly but fun for all ages! Free.

Salem Community Orchestra Concert (7:00pm)
Join us in the sanctuary for a merry old time! The orchestra will share a variety of carols and medleys designed to get you in the Christmas spirit! Free to all.

Sunday, December 15       

MoravianXmasInLewisvlleTransMoravian Christmas (3:00pm) and Children’s Lovefeast & Candle Service (4:30pm)
This interactive community open house and craft fair is free to everyone! Experience the history, music, and traditions of the Moravians, one of the world’s oldest churches. Buy unique gifts, chicken pies, and baked goods for the holidays. Enjoy free sugar cake, cookies, hot cocoa, and lovefeast coffee. Plenty of craft activities for the kids and young at heart. Stay for our children’s lovefeast at 4:30pm, a noisy and joyous worship experience where you can share in a symbolic meal, become part of the Christmas story, and sing carols. Come as you are!

  • 3:00pm: Moravian Christmas (crafts, baked goods, snacks, demonstrations of Moravian traditions such as star and candle making)
  • 3:45pm: Unwrapping the Christmas Creche (For children: each figure comes to life!)
  • 4:15pm: The Christmas Putz (presentation of Christmas nativity scenes)
  • 4:30pm: Interactive lovefeast and candle service begins

Tuesday, Dec. 24    

Christmas Eve Lovefeast & Candle Service (4pm & 7pm)
Join us at 4pm and 7pm on December 24th for our Christmas Eve Lovefeast and Candle Services. A brass band plays beforehand to welcome all inside for this beautiful worship service sure to get you in the Christmas spirit! Come early to enjoy the band prelude and get a seat. Nursery is provided.

All events take place at Unity Moravian Church at 8300 Concord Church Road in Lewisville, NC.  Read more about the Moravians at https://www.moravian.org/.

Please share this printable schedule with your friends and family.

 

 

Lumberton RCC Project Update

Yadkin View RCC – Lumberton House Rebuild

Lumberton was devastated in 2016 with flooding from Hurricane Matthew and now Florence has only compounded their miseries. Moravians have been partnering with North Carolina United Methodist Disaster Response since Hurricane Matthew and we are happy to be continuing our partnership. The Yadkin View Conference of Churches will be working together to rebuild a home in Lumberton this spring.

Project Update: May 20, 2019

Status:

  • City of Lumberton has demolished house and removed the debris.
  • Two trees that were on property and could have had a long term impact on house have been taken down.
    • Trunk/limbs will have to be cut up and removed from property at some point.
    • Either by work teams or locals for the wood.
  • Over the next 3 weeks, local team will:
    • Dig and pour footings
    • Pour 6 feet high concrete foundation wall.
      • Due to new local building regulations concerning flooding, the house will need to have a 6 feet high foundation wall.

Yadkin View RCC Work Teams:

  • After footings and foundation wall are poured, work teams will begin working on framing with the goal of having the house under roof by the 2nd week of July.
  • Two work Saturdays are planned. These will be one day trips.
    • Dates: June 8th and 15
    • Leave at 5:00 am. Work on house during day.  Return late afternoon.  (About a 3 hour one way trip)
    • Work To Be Done:
      • Framing/General Carpentry
      • Also need general helpers to wok with more experienced carpenters.
    • Need to get number of workers who are interested to Kenneth Lankford so he can plan work with local team.
    • While some tools are on site, work teams are encouraged to bring their own tools to perform the work scheduled for workdays.
  • Plans are for the work teams to take food with them on these days. If you are interested in helping the RCC with preparing food for the teams, please fill out a form or email as well.
  • If interested in going or helping with food, please fill out form in bulletin and turn into church office or send you name/email address to Kenneth Lankford (mklankford@roadrunner.com) and Smitty Welborn (swelbornjr@gmail.com). Note:  I would like your contact information so I can keep everyone informed if I get work related information sent to me.

Schedule (More Details Will Be Provided As They Are Finalized):

  • 5/18 – 5/19:
    • Footings dug.
  • 5-19 – 6/7:
    • Pour footings
    • Pour/build foundation walls
  • 6/8 – 2nd Week of July:
    • Framing
    • Roofing
  • Beginning 2nd Week of July:
    • Exterior doors and windows
    • Ruff in electrical
    • Ruff in plumbing
      • These three tasks can be done at the same time.
    • Sheetrock

Local Team on Site:

  • Local project manager will provide materials needed.
  • Local project manager will have people working at site during the week.
    • For those who prefer to work during the week, the local project manager can be contacted to coordinate work team support on these days.
    • Summary will be updated with local project manager’s contact information. 

Financial Support:

  • Financial contributions are needed to support the rebuild of this home:
    • Contributions can be made directly:
      • Checks should be made out to NCCUMC and with a memo to “Moravian House Adoption”
        • Mailed to: NCCUMC | PO Box 3601 | Lumberton, N.C. 28358

The Yadkin View Regional Conference of Churches: Clemmons Moravian Church, Macedonia Moravian Church, New Hope Moravian Church, New Philadelphia Moravian Church, and Unity Moravian Church.

No Sunday Activities on January 13, 2019

We’ll miss being together on Sunday, January 13, but with the anticipated icy conditions, we want to be safe. We will observe our mission emphasis and enjoy some of the special music scheduled for January 13 on January 27.

January 13 is the second Sunday of Epiphany. You’ll find the scripture readings for the day here. The focus is on the baptism of Jesus. Think back to your own baptism. Do you remember it? Many of us were infants when we were received as members of our childhood faith communities. What does it really mean to be baptized? As Moravians, baptism is a little different from other denominations in that, like Jesus’s baptism, it is a communal event. You can remind yourself about the sacrament of Baptism on the Moravian Church in North America website.

Jesus’s baptism is a significant event. Ronald J. Allen talks about this in his commentary on the Working Preacher website:

“When Jesus came to be baptized, he came to be publicly identified as the pivotal figure in the movement towards the realm. Moreover, his baptism signaled that God was now taking steps through the ministry of Jesus to signal that the turning of the ages expected by John has now begun to take place. As preachers are want to say, it is both present and future: its signs in the present point to the future consummation at Jesus’ return.

Jesus’ baptism takes place in community. It is not a private occurrence. This communal dimension reminds listeners that they when they are baptized, they become part of a new social world. My sense is that a good many people today are moving away from the radical individualism of modernity and are longing for community.

The voice from heaven (God’s voice) identifies Jesus as God’s son, in whom God is well pleased. In first century context, these words have less to do with the nature of Jesus and more with his purpose. God’s words recall two texts. The Jewish people used Psalm 2 at the coronation of a new monarch. In 2:7, God adopts the monarch as God’s son. Thus, God adopts Jesus as divine representative in the final transition from old age to new age.”

We hope you find your time at home refreshing and relaxing. We look forward to seeing you next Sunday!

Worship at Home on December 9

We hope you’ll stay safe and warm at home tomorrow, Sunday, December 9th, and enjoy the snow. We’ll resume our Advent festivities next week with Sunday School (9:45am) and Worship (11:00am). Please join us for Moravian Christmas in Lewisville next Sunday, December 16, beginning at 2:30pm, followed by our Children’s Lovefeast at 4:00pm. The cantata, The Winter Rose, will now be performed on Sunday, December 23rd at 7:30pm. Our sanctuary is now decorated for the season! View a few photos below.

Visit our Facebook page to read about all our Advent and Christmas events!

If you’d like to enjoy a bit of Advent worship on your own, here are a few ecumenical worship and prayer options for you!

  • Moravian Church Without Walls Daily Text Podcast: Listen online or with your favorite podcast service to the Daily Text, read each day by Moravians from all over North America. (Look at December 3rd – you’ll know that reader!)
  • Here’s a daily reading from the Lutherans’ Advent devotions about the 2nd Sunday in Advent.
  • Lectio Divina (purposeful, meditative Bible reading) for the Second Sunday in Advent.
  • A video Advent reflection.
  • An imaginative prayer exercise for the second Sunday in Advent.
  • This 10-minute guided meditation is perfect for the second Sunday in Advent.
  • An Advent devotional kit from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Christmas at Unity! Come Join Us for the Season

Our neighbors and their families are invited to celebrate Christmas with us at Unity Moravian Church by attending one or all of these events:

Sunday, December 2        

Candle Trimming (6:00pm)
Bring your family and learn how to “dress” the hundreds of beeswax candles in special red paper trim used for our traditional Christmas lovefeast and candle services.  We enjoy snacks together once the work is done! Kid-friendly but fun for all ages! Free.

Salem Community Orchestra Concert (7:30pm)
Join us in the sanctuary for a merry old time! The orchestra will share a variety of carols and medleys designed to get you in the Christmas spirit! Free to all.

Sunday, December 9   Sunday, December 23       

The Winter Rose: A Cantata (7:30pm)
Join us after the Lewisville Holiday parade for this free concert. The performance features Unity’s choir accompanied by a talented musical ensemble. The Winter Rose incorporates both traditional carols and newly composed anthems that visit the timeless Christmas story with fresh insight. This is Jim Basta’s farewell performance as conductor of the Unity Moravian Choir’s cantatas.

Sunday, December 16      

MoravianXmasInLewisvlleTransMoravian Christmas (2:30pm) and Children’s Lovefeast & Candle Service (4:00pm)
This interactive community open house and craft fair is free to everyone! Experience the history, music, and traditions of the Moravians, one of the world’s oldest churches. Buy unique gifts, chicken pies, and baked goods for the holidays. Enjoy free sugar cake, cookies, hot cocoa, and lovefeast coffee. Crafts for the kids and young at heart. Stay for our children’s lovefeast at 4:00pm, a noisy and joyous worship experience where you can share in a symbolic meal, become part of the Christmas story, and sing carols. Come as you are!

  • 2:30pm: Moravian Christmas (crafts, baked goods, snacks, demonstrations of Moravian traditions such as star and candle making)
  • 3:30pm: The Christmas Putz (presentation of Christmas nativity scenes)
  • 3:45pm: Band prelude (intergenerational!)
  • 4:00pm: Interactive lovefeast and candle service begins

Monday, Dec. 24    

Christmas Eve Lovefeast & Candle Service (4pm & 7pm)
Join us at 4pm and 7pm on December 24th for our Christmas Eve Lovefeast and Candle Services. A brass band plays beforehand to welcome all inside for this beautiful worship service sure to get you in the Christmas spirit! Come early to enjoy the band prelude and get a seat. Nursery is provided.

All events take place at Unity Moravian Church at 8300 Concord Church Road in Lewisville, NC.  Read more about the Moravians at https://www.moravian.org/.

Please share this printable schedule with your friends and family.