Feast of Christian David (October 13)   2 comments

Herrnhut 1765

Above:  Herrnhut in 1765

Image in the Public Domain

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LAST ENTRY IN A SERIES OF FOUR POSTS

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CHRISTIAN DAVID (DECEMBER 31, 1690-FEBRUARY 3, 1751)

Moravian Missionary

Christian David (1690-1751) was a foundational figure in the Renewed Moravian Church.  The native of Senftleben, Moravia, was, like St. Simon Peter, impetuous, and usually a force for good.

Our saint, originally a Roman Catholic then a Lutheran, became a driving force in the Renewed Moravian Church.  He met Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) in Dresden in 1722.  David recruited nine people and spearheaded the founding of Herrnhut that year.  He even built the first house in the settlement on the Count’s estate.  David recruited settlers for the rapidly growing community.  Among his recruits were David “Father” Nitschmann, Sr. (1676-1758), and family.  Efforts to recruit settlers from Moravia attracted hostile attention from Austrian authorities, who feared that they might constitute an attempt to foment rebellion.

In the 1720s our saint was a paradox, for he was simultaneously a force for building the community and detracting from it.  On one hand he recruited settlers and taught David Nitschmann (1696-1772), who became the first bishop of the Renewed Moravian Church in 1735, carpentry.  On the other hand, our saint frequently neglected his assigned duties of visiting the sick to focus on evangelism instead.  This reality had the effect of also depriving the community of his skills as a carpenter.  Finally, on May 12, 1727, the new constitution of Herrnhut made clear that seeking the common good was an essential value of the settlement.  Our saint agreed to this.  He became one of the first four elders of the Renewed Moravian Church eight days later.  He resigned his eldership the following year, for he had supported a failed proposal to abandon the discipline of Herrnhut and to merge with the Lutheran parish church at Berthelsdorf.

Our saint was an active missionary.  He and Melchior Nitschmann (1702-1729) were evangelizing in Hungary on August 13, 1727, the date of the Moravian Pentecost at Herrnhut.  The following year our saint and the future first bishop, David Nitschmann (1696-1772), undertook missionary work in Austria.  Our saint and one Timothy Fiedler conducted the first Moravian Church missionary journey in the Baltic provinces in 1729.  Then, from 1733 to 1736, our saint and the Stach cousins (Matthew and Christian) evangelized in Greenland.  They started the Moravian mission there.

Our saint served God ably via the Moravian Church in various ways.  He wrote at least ten hymns.  He also assisted in establishing new settlements in Europe.  Our saint also encouraged Count Zinzendorf to correct the excesses of the “sifting time” (1743-1750) before the Count heeded the advice.

Our saint died at Herrnhut on February 3, 1751.

Here ends the process of adding twelve saints to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via four posts.  That seemed more sensible and less confusing than doing so in one.  These twelve saints were bold in their lived faith.  They were imperfect, but what else should one expect from mere mortals?  They also did much for the glory of God.  What else should one expect from mere mortals?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Christian David,

who made the good news known in Hungary, Austria, the Baltic provinces, and Greenland.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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