Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Both solitude and poverty protect the hiddenness of our lives.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Wednesday 13 August - Herrnhut, Germany (Zinzendorf)
No one present could tell exactly what happened to the Moravians on Wednesday morning, 13 August 1727 at the specially called Communion service. The glory of the Lord came upon them so powerfully that they hardly knew if they had been on earth or in heaven. Count Nicholas Zinzendorf, the young leader of that community, gave this account many years later:
'We needed to come to the Communion with a sense of the loving nearness of the Saviour. This was the great comfort which has made this day a generation ago to be a festival, because on this day twentyseven years ago the Congregation of Herrnhut, assembled for communion (at the Berthelsdorf church) were all dissatisfied with themselves. They had quit judging each other because they had become convinced, each one, of his lack of worth in the sight of God and each felt himself at this Communion to be in view of the noble countenance of the Saviour. ...
'This firm confidence changed them in a single moment into a happy people which they are to this day, and into their happiness they have since led many thousands of others through the memory and help which the heavenly grace once given to themselves, so many thousand times confirmed to them since then' (Greenfield 1927:15).
Zinzendorf described it as 'a sense of the nearness of Christ' given to everyone present, and also to others of their community who were working elsewhere at the time. The congregation was young. Zinzendorf, the human leader, at 27, was about the average age of the group.
Their missionary zeal began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Count Zinzendorf observed: 'The Saviour permitted to come upon us a Spirit of whom we had hitherto not had any experience or knowledge. ... Hitherto we had been the leaders and helpers. Now the Holy Spirit himself took full control of everything and everybody' (Greenfield 1927:21).
Prayer precedes Pentecost. The disgruntled community at Herrnhut early in 1727 was deeply divided and critical of one another. Heated controversies threatened to disrupt the community. The majority were from the ancient Moravian Church of the Brethren. Other believers attracted to Herrnhut included Lutherans, Reformed, and Anabaptists. They argued about predestination, holiness, and baptism.
At Herrnhut, Zinzendorf visited all the adult members of the deeply divided community. He drew up a covenant calling upon them 'to seek out and emphasise the points in which they agreed' rather than stressing their differences. On 12 May 1727 they all signed an agreement to dedicate their lives, as he dedicated his, to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On 22 July many of the community covenanted together on their own accord to meet often to pour out their hearts in prayer and hymns.
On 5 August the Count spent the whole night in prayer with about twelve or fourteen others following a large meeting for prayer at midnight where great emotion prevailed.
On Sunday, 10 August, Pastor Rothe, while leading the service at Herrnhut, was overwhelmed by the power of the Lord about noon. He sank down into the dust before God. So did the whole congregation. They continued till midnight in prayer and singing, weeping and praying.
On Wednesday, 13 August, the Holy Spirit was poured out on them all. Their prayers were answered in ways far beyond anyone's expectations. Many of them decided to set aside certain times for continued earnest prayer.
On 26 August, twentyfour men and twentyfour women covenanted together to continue praying in intervals of one hour each, day and night, each hour allocated by lots to different people.
On 27 August, this new regulation began. Others joined the intercessors and the number involved increased to seventyseven. They all carefully observed the hour which had been appointed for them. The intercessors had a weekly meeting where prayer needs were given to them.
The children, also touched powerfully by God, began a similar plan among themselves. Those who heard their infant supplications were deeply moved. The children's prayers and supplications had a powerful effect on the whole community.
That astonishing prayer meeting beginning in 1727 lasted one hundred years. It was unique. Known as the Hourly Intercession, it involved relays of men and women in prayer without ceasing made to God. That prayer also led to action, especially evangelism. More than 100 missionaries left that village community in the next twentyfive years, all constantly supported in prayer.
One result of their baptism in the Holy Spirit was a joyful assurance of their pardon and salvation. This made a strong impact on people in many countries, including the Wesleys.