Dear friends in Christ,
We continue our survey of Church History from the book of Professor E.A.W. Krauss from our St. Louis seminary of a century ago. This month we meet a new character in Church History—Count Nicholas Ludwig Zinzendorf. We will spend several months looking at his life and work, but what makes him so interesting to American Christians is that he has a connection to what would become the United States. Professor Krauss will soon begin the slow change to the scene of Church history in the United States. Stay tuned.
41. ZINZENDORF AND THE UNITY OF BRETHREN [part 1]
Nicholas Ludwig, Count and Lord of Zinzendorf and Pottendorf, was born in Dresden on 26 May 1700. The house of Zinzendorf had land-ownings in Austria and was raised by Emperor Leopold I to the rank of imperial count. Isolated branches of the family turned to the Lutheran faith. Zinzendorf’s father was an Electoral Saxon minister and died six weeks after the birth of this son. His mother, born Baroness of Gersdorf, soon left Dresden, again married, moved to Berlin and entrusted the boy’s upbringing to his grandmother. The elderly Spener was his godfather and remained a friend of the grandmother’s house in Grosshennersdorf. Young Nicholas “very much liked the spiritual exercises.” As a boy, he wrote letters to the Savior and threw them out his window for his Divine Friend to find. In 1706 a band of Swedish soldiers who had come to the castle to collect war money, met the six-year-old boy as he was standing on a chair preaching before chairs that represented his hearers. The boy gave all his pocket money to the poor. He had little aptitude for math. He had difficulty learning languages. For weeks before, he looked forward to the seasons of Advent and Christmas because then “the most interesting thing is told about the Savior and From Heaven Above To Earth I Come is sung.” The ten-year-old boy came to Francke at the school at the Halle orphanage. Francke observed him and called him “the cheeky little count” and later said: “When Count Zinzendorf flies into the air, the one who pulls him down by the legs does him a great service.” Later in Halle he was judged this way: “he was too indifferent toward adiaphora, no child of God has taken Christianity as lightly—neither waiting for nor demanding the breakthrough of the new birth.” Later there was mutual dislike but it already had its roots in the experiences of the boy. Zinzendorf had great regard for Val. E. Loescher; but for those from Halle? He made up the verse about the orphanage:
One individual people on earth / Will become obnoxious to me
And is annoying to me:/ The miserable Christians
Who do not call any people Pietists/ Except themselves.
But during his time at Halle he already “established” something spiritual, the Order of the Grain of Mustard Seed. The sign of the fellowship was a golden ring engraved, None of us lives to himself [Rm 14.7] and his later motto: Aeternitati (for eternity).
The uncle, who oversaw his studies, sent him to Wittenberg because in Halle they would have certainly made a perfect Pietist out of him. Zinzendorf went there to study law, and he did so, although theological study was nearer and dearer to him. He reluctantly submitted himself to fencing, dance and riding, “although he made an agreement with his heart’s Friend, Jesus Christ, that He would give him great aptitude for them so that he could quickly and honorably be rid of such foolishness and be given freedom to turn the few hours of the day into something more solid and more suitable for his mind. Even here my only and true Confident did not refuse.” He played billiards and chess, which “in fact had to be played for money; so he gave the winnings to the poor or purchased Bibles from Halle for distribution.” He became fond of the Wittenberg theologian, Dr. Wernsdorf, who roused in him the wish of becoming a pastor, at least “a simple catechist or a happy village pastor.” But because of class prejudice, he did not want to tell this to his relatives. Meanwhile he comforted himself that God would use him for that, and that God would not forget him.
Three years later (1719), he was sent on a trip. In Holland an Ecce Homo [Behold, the Man!—the scene in which Pilate present Jesus, beaten and crowned with thorns, to the crowds, John 19.5] with the words beneath it: “I did this for you. What are you doing for Me?” made a great impression on him. In Paris he was not interested in opera, theater, buildings, fountains, but he was very much interested in the great hospital (the Hotel Dieu). He also sought out several Jansenists and the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Noailles, who did not persuade him to convert to the Roman Church. He returned to Germany via Strasbourg and Basel and wrote to his stepbrother: “You cannot believe how silly the world seemed to me on my travels. It is a miserable, wretched thing because of all the grandeur of the great, and still there is none so magnificent that another does not outdo him.”
In 1721 he accepted the position with the state government in Dresden to be an advisor to the court and king on the condition that he would only be entrusted in matters that interested him. He was and remained, as he himself says, “a preacher, who carried a sword and went to the government only out of obedience to his parents.” His heart was in the preaching of the holy Gospel. “Thus with doors opened to him he held public gatherings every Sunday in Dresden for all. The Superintendent, Loescher, who was otherwise strictly orthodox and an opponent of Pietism let him do as he pleased because he did not consider him as a Pietist; instead, he had Christian sympathy with his suppressed talent.” Certainly only a few could achieve in getting an office under such a condition; and the ones who can, do not do it well. A 21-year-old man, wanting only to do what interests him, must rely upon miracles if he has to live and has strength.
Zinzendorf was not completely satisfied with either orthodoxy or with Pietism. He then came upon the “extraordinary” thought “of gathering all true friends of the Savior, all true children of God into a higher fellowship.” To do that, he wanted to make full use of his position as a noble lord of the manor and feudal lord. He purchased the Berthelsdorf Estate from his grandmother; and was elevated in May of 1722. As preacher there, he appointed the candidate, Andreas Roth, who has his full confidence; and then married the sister of his friend, Count Henry XXIX of Reuss, Erdmuthe Dorothea. 25 years later he said of her: “Who else would have lived before the world as innocently as she did? Who else would have so wisely assisted me in rejecting withered morals? Who else would have so thoroughly recognized the Phariseeism that increased through the years? Who else would have so deeply understood the erring spirits that would have from time to time mixed with us? Who else would have led my entire household as frugally and amply for so many years? Who else would have taken from me the particulars of the household so reluctantly and yet so completely? Who else would have lived so frugally and yet so generously? Who else could have been so appropriately low and high? Who else would have been sometimes a servant, sometimes a Lady, yet without either affecting a special spirituality or showing herself to be worldly? Who would have accepted and supported such an amazing pilgrimage on land and sea.” Thus “from every corner and end” she put up with “his inclinations.”
But now, how to begin “to gather all true children of God into a higher fellowship”?
In Moravia, the Moravian Brethren had preserved themselves as spiritual descendants of the Hussites. Afterwards they were faithful to the Reformation. Thus they were always from time to time oppressed by the Austrian government, which was Roman Catholic dominated. Many of them had fled to Poland, Prussia and Saxony. One of these Moravian Brethren, Christian David, a carpenter was acquainted with the Count. The count stated that he was ready to receive the oppressed in Austria at his estate, Berthelsdorf. They accepted with thanks. When the first tree was felled to build the first house, David spoke as he drove in the ax: “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself—Your altars, O Lord of hosts” [Ps. 84.3]. The place was called Herrnhut. “The place shall not only stand under the protection of the Lord, but also we too shall daily point to the Lord’s protection. On Hutberg the grain of mustard seed from Zinzendorf’s childhood came up. The Moravian piece of land gave the firm footing, “a small place of rest of the invisible congregation that shall leaven everything.” Thus from there came the secluded, close, familial communal life. “Had the Moravian Brethren not come, we would have had much more glory, but I believe we would already be finished.”
So far Professor Krauss
Hello All! We are in the midst of celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I pray we all had a blessed day. And remember Christmas lasts until 05 January!
• Thank you to all who participated in the cookie exchange. We had a nice variety certainly enjoyed by all.
• We have the Epiphany Dinner on 03 January.
• Our next meeting will be 17 January 2016 after church. We have lots to do and plan, so be sure to be there!
I pray everyone has a safe and merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
REMEMBER OUR EPIPHANY DINNER—03 JANUARY AFTER SERVICE
PORK is the featured meat. Luther comments on pigs: For, among all the animals, [the pig] is the most earthy and has no usefulness beyond the belly, as even Gentiles have said, ‘This animal possesses life only as salt [to preserve the life of others].’ For it is of no benefit to human beings (especially in the Law of Moses, where it is banned): neither through its song (like the birds) nor through its work nor by any [other] service (like the horse, the cow, chickens, etc.). It only consumes what belongs to men. It is just like the gnats and lice among us, which [only] consume and are of no benefit. [AE, LXVII, 55]
News from our LWML Zone
God gave us a beautiful sunny day in which to travel to Trinity Lutheran Church in Wellsboro, PA on Sunday November 15th for the Zone Fall Rally. The session included an inspirational Bible Study entitled "No Mumble - No Grumble" based on Matthew 20:1-16 and lead by Pastor Schian. Our District President, Kathy P, lead us in a "Round Table" discussion entitled "What is LWML?" In the discussion we rediscovered LWML's roots dating back to the '40s and proceeded to discuss the goals and purposes set out by the founders and how they are still relevant to the mission of the church today. Over $250.00 was collected at the rally with half of the donation given to the Grace Lutheran Church preschool library in Vestal, NY to replace books lost in the fire that destroyed their church and preschool. A project for the 2016 convention was worked on followed by a delicious lasagna supper with a variety of divine desserts. Dinner was served by two men from the church in their spacious gym/auditorium.
LWML now turns its attention in depth to the 2016 convention hosted by us, South Central Zone, in Binghamton, NY from June 10th -12th, 2016+. We are a small zone to host such a big affair (estimated attendance 250 people) and are seeking the helping hands pf ladies and men from all of our nine churches. Ruth M, from Grace in Vestal is chairman and Anita from Trinity in Wellsboro is her assistant. If you would be able to help please contact them or Martha C, Zone President. We have big jobs and little jobs. long term jobs and short term jobs for ladies and men alike. Our next planning meeting is January 16th at Grace in Owego.
Have a blessed Christmas and may peace dwell in your hearts and homes and in our nation and world!
South Central New York Zone President
The Place of Jesus’ Birth:
But the reader wishes to hear about the birthplace of Christ. A very ancient church, probably the oldest in existence, the Church of the Nativity, is the visitor’s objective. It was erected over the cave which, so it is held, formed the stable of the inn which had “no room” for Mary and Joseph. We are told that Constantine, the first Christian emperor, had it built. To enter the church one must stoop, because the door is only a few feet high. Mohammadan horsemen, it is said in explanation, to show their contempt of Christianity, used to ride unceremoniously into the church. To prevent these outrages, the door was walled up to such an extent that no man on horseback can enter it. The church itself is rather gloomy; no pews are in it; opposite the door is an altar with gorgeous ornaments. Underneath the “choir” is a grotto, to which one descends by either one or two staircases. In it, always illuminated by expensive lamps, is a spot which contains a silver star around which one reads in Latin: “Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.” Not far away is an excavation in the wall, which is said to be the manger where the infant Jesus was laid.
--William F. Arndt [LCMS Scholar] quoted in The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism, pg. 61, CPH, 2004.]
THY STRONG WORD on your Lutheran Radio Station Worldwide KFUO.org. Join us as we continue our studies in the Book of Isaiah:
Mon. Jan 3 --- Isaiah 38 “Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery”;
Tues. Jan 4 --- Isaiah 39 “Envoys from Babylon”;
Wed. Jan 5 --- Isaiah 40 “Comfort for God’s People”;
Thurs. Jan 6 --- Isaiah 41 “Fear Not, For I am with You”;
Fri. Jan 7 --- Isaiah 42 “The Lord’s Chosen Servant”;
Monday-Friday @ 11am Central Time. Archived at KFUO.org . Follow us on Facebook.com/KFUOradio.
We are repeating this article from past editions to arm you because you still hear this silly argument CHRISTIANS HEISTED A PAGAN HOLIDAY TO MAKE CHRISTMAS.
Lutheran scholar, Alvin Schmidt notes in his book “How Christianity Changed the World” [pp. 377-378]:
Frequently one hears that Christmas Day, like Sunday, is a holiday that evolved out of the religious cult of Mithraism—namely, that the date of December 25 comes from the Roman emperor Aurelian’s edict of AD 274 that established the festival of Natale Solis Invicti (Birth of the Unconquerable Sun) as he dedicated a new temple to the sun as god near the Mausoleum of Augustus. The widely held belief that Christmas Day came about as a result of Christians having Christianized sun-god worship fails to consider the argument that Christians in some geographic areas—in northern Africa (primarily in Egypt), for example—were already observing Christmas Day as early as December 25 in AD 243, thirty years before Aurelian’s edict. They associated Christ’s birth with the Old Testament prophecy of Malachi 4.2, which calls the predicted Messiah “the sun of righteousness” (Natalis Solis Iustitiae in Latin). If this argument is true, then the Christians did not choose December 25 to Christianize Aurelian’s decision, but rather the emperor, by establishing the Birth of the Unconquerable Sun, may have tried to paganize the Christian observance of the birth of Christ, the “sun of righteousness.” The latter gains added plausibility when one recalls that Emperor Diocletian in the Great Persecution of 293-305 reinforced Aurelian’s edict to “expunge Christianity.” Moreover, also in the mid-fourth century, Christians considered March 25 “to be the actual date of both Christ’s Passion and Resurrection and his conception [sic] so that December 25—exactly nine months later—was originally chosen from a computation based on the assumed date of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and conception.” Hence the attempt to link Christmas Day with Mithraism’s sun god festival does not have unequivocal historical support.
NEW YEAR’S DAY DEVOTION
But they urged him strongly, “Say with us.” (Luke 24.49)
Entering a new year as you are today, you are not unlike a person setting out on a long and arduous journey, full of hope for its successful completion, yet aware of the fact that all sorts of things can happen that would make that impossible. We assume that you are looking forward to entering another year after this one. Yet we trust that you are aware that there will be difficulties cropping up, possibly even dangers threatening your temporal and eternal welfare. Yes, indeed, there is ample reason to cast all such cares on the Lord.
You certainly do not wish to enter the New Year on a chance. That would be foolish. Our advice to you is that you turn in faith to your Savior who is your very best friend and beg Him to stay with you throughout this year and always. Just as was the case in the old year, so too in this New Year there will be daily brushes with sin. Unfortunately, that is the way it will be. We are not implying that you are minded to go your own way, even if it be sinful. After all, you are a Christian and a child of God. Yet, at the same time you are and remain a poor sinful being. That is why we said that every day there will be brushes with sin. It may even occur that because of the weakness of your flesh and the temptation of the devil you will suddenly find yourself involved in some grievous sin. Who can say that can’t happen to him? Then the question soon arises whether you want to persist in that sin. You certainly don’t imagine that you will be able to extricate yourself by your own powers. Nor would you want the guilt and burden of your daily sins, which will multiply from day to day, to separate you from the love of God. —That’s where Christ Jesus, your sin-bearer, comes in, and for that reason we urge you to turn to him, especially on this first day of a new year, and indeed every day, and beg him to stay with you. Then He will do so in answer to your prayer. He will forgive those many daily sins and graciously strengthen you in the faith so that you can be better on your guard against sinning and against the devil’s snares and assaults. He will keep watch over you as your Good Shepherd because He loves His sheep.
You know that the road through life is a dangerous one even as is the passing through a new year. Besides, you have no notion how many dangers are menacing your way, and if you are minded to go that way alone, your passage won’t be attended with blessing. Simply because you are a Christian and a child of God, the devil is your hardened enemy. This is all the more reason for you to ask Jesus to stay at your side, in your heart. Then, no matter what happens, it will all work out for your good. That hand that was nailed to the cross for you will turn even woes and adversities into blessings. Even if it were your lot to walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death this year, you need fear no evil for your Good Shepherd is with you. If times of weeping and sighing come, he will comfort you with His Word, help you bear your cross, lightening the load, and gladly remove it as soon as it is beneficial for you.
And finally, Christian, there is the possibility that you may die in this year. And after death there’s the Judgment. And what will be your fate if your Savior and Advocate is not at your side then?—Oh, with all your might pray fervently and often, "Dear Jesus, stay with me!” Then neither death nor Judgment can harm any, and your dear Lord will see to it that you safely enter the Father’s home above.
“Stay with me, Lord Jesus!”—May this plea ever be on your lips and in your heart; then you will surely have a good new year.
O Lord Christ, our Savior dear,
Be Thou ever near us.
Grant us now a glad new year,
Amen, Jesus, hear us! (TLH 97:4)
From: Manna, by Carl Manthey Zorn.
OUR GUEST COLUMNIST THIS MONTH IS PATRIARCH KIRILL OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. NOT ONLY DOES HE SEND CHRISTMAS GREETINGS BUT HE ANSWERS THE QUESTION: WILL 2016 BE A YEAR OF PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS…OR A YEAR OF CONTINUED PERSECUTION IN OUR COUNTRY?
Patriarch Kirill, leader of Russia’s Orthodox Church “…is also critical of western nations which he says are “spiritually disarming” their people. He said, ‘The general direction of the [Western political] elite bears, without doubt, an anti-Christian and anti-religious character.’ In other words, the Patriarch says, the west is persecuting Christians. On state run television the theologian confessed, ‘We have been through an epoch of atheism, and we know what it is to live without God. We want to shout to the whole world, “Stop!”’”
[From: Rev. Dr. Kenneth Klaus, “The Deadly Sting of Persecution,” The Lutheran Layman November –December 2015, pg. 6]
FROM OUR SYNOD: “In all things I have shown you that . . . we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). And indeed it is. Does this not strike a chord that resonates in us all? Which of us can’t recall the look of surprise and thanks for the Christmas gifts that we labored to give to those whom we love? And the joy written on their face when that gift is received with thanksgiving means more than all the gifts we have received. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Our Lord knew this because He practiced it. He gave of Himself, sparing not even His life in death, in order to give us back to our Father in heaven. He knew that in giving, you get more because in giving joy is multiplied: the one who receives and the one who gives both rejoice in what is given and received. What is more the one who receives is thankful and only wants to give back to the one who gave so generously.
So also with our tithes and offerings in church. We want to give because we have received from God all that we are and all that we have. Our giving does not originate in what we must do to earn God’s favor. We have God’s favor because of the gift of His Son which we receive through Word and Sacrament. Thus, we are made free from the compulsion of giving. Now our tithes and offering are freely given in thanksgiving for what God has so generously given to us.
Why then does the church struggle to make budgets? Why does the church always seem stretched so thin? After all the Church is the place where God not only gives to us once, but continually again and again. And what gifts He gives! He gives us the forgiveness of sins, generously pouring out His grace and mercy because He loves us. So why does the church struggle?
It is because sin still clings to us. Our fallen nature makes us selfish and miserly. It leads us to believe that we can have our cake and eat it too. Because of sin we want to receive, but not give. We want God's blessings, but we don’t want to share them with those around us. We want to remain comfortable in our own self-contained, neat, and tidy lives, without the headaches of loving those around us by helping them in their time of need.
“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Remember that God has placed you in a church, not only to receive His grace and mercy, but also to use you to bless others. Your tithes and offerings ensure that those around you have a pastor to preach the life-saving and life-giving Word of God. They ensure that the lights and heat and air-conditioning are working. They ensure there is water for Holy Baptism and bread and wine for the Holy Communion. Everything the Church does, she is able to do by and through the generosity of the members of the Church.
So remember the words of the Lord Jesus. It is more blessed to give than to receive. And remember the joy that attended the gifts you gave at Christmas. This same joy attends your gifts to the church.
Resolving Today-Joy Tomorrow
New Year’s Resolutions represent determinations that we make to improve our desired states and our sense of satisfaction with our lives. Many of these determinations center around our problems, pressures and aspirations. These issues relate to our emotions and motivations.
One resolution that enters into a Christian believer’s mind is the desire to live more in the light of God’s love and generosity. This means we strive to love God first, and then to love others as we love ourselves.
Bent toward wrongdoing, even the best believer falls short of keeping such a resolution every time. But the gift of grace assures us that, despite our tendency towards faithlessness, God is faithful. As the Apostle Paul says to Timothy, “. . . If we are faithless, He remains faithful—for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13.
Being confident of God’s saving work for us in Christ, we are motivated toward generosity. God’s gift of the Holy Spirit blesses us to share generously with others and experience greater joy. God’s generosity to us gives us the ability to resolve to be more generous to those around us. “Living outside of ourselves” promises to offer wonderful surprises as we see God at work.
Our lifetimes, described as only a breath, will soon be gone. Since Jesus Christ will endure forever, we can align our life’s decisions around His eternal purposes.
How does this relate to passing on your legacy? The terms of your last will and testament can be part of your New Year’s resolutions. Get started today on your own estate and financial legacy planning and ask a spiritually trained Gift Planning Counselor to help guide your thoughts on personal financial and spiritual issues. For more information contact Robert Wirth, LCMS Foundation Gift Planner @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-863-4427.
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