Your blessed people, trusting in your merit,
on the earth’s extended face
from each other far, but one in spirit,
sound with one accord your praise.
These words from Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, from November 13, 1748, express our church’s understanding of Christ’s presence as both our friend and Chief Elder. The writings and hymns of Zinzendorf continue to reflect the beliefs and theology of the Moravian Church today, including the belief in the ongoing, active presence of Christ as our Chief Elder. Hymn #400 of our Moravian Book of Worship, “Jesus, Great High Priest of Our Profession” continues:
May we never cease to make confession
that your death’s the cause of our salvation;
we to you, our Head and King,
joyful hallelujahs sing.
This month, we remember that it was announced on November 13, 1741 that Jesus Christ had been elected by church leaders as the Chief Elder of the worldwide Moravian Church. Since that day, the Moravian Church has recognized that no single human being would hold that position. In matters of faith and the essentials of Christian life, Jesus Christ would be referred to as the source of understanding, wisdom, and fellowship.
After 282 years, we still look to him as our Chief Elder. He is the one who will hear our troubles, and he is the one who can overcome divisions and anger. He is the one who teaches us to forgive and who sends us out in the world as servants.
Ordinary and worldly elections will come and go, every year, but the Word of our Lord will stand forever. Through the Holy Communion we will celebrate on November 5, we remember that Christ is not only Chief Elder, but also the Head of each individual believer, each of us, personally.
We also recognize that our final allegiance is not to any earthly individual but to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, our Chief Elder. May our Lord continue to inspire our hearts and lead us to a deeper understanding of God’s presence, throughout this month, and always.
Peace to you,
The Rev. John G. Rights