Today’s Reading – Acts 1-3
The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.
Acts 2:42 CEB
This past Sunday at church we celebrated a Love Feast. This feast is a way to recall the shared meal mentioned in this passage.
Song of Fellowship for the Love Feast
Come and let us sweetly join; Christ to praise in hymns divine
Give we all, with one accord; Glory to our common Lord
Hands and hearts and voices raise; Sing as in the ancient days
Antedate the joys above; Celebrate the feast of love
Happy we as those above; We who keep the feast of love
Urge each other on to press; Toward the crown of righteousness!
Call’d to different climes away; We are in Christ together stay
One in spirit, mind and heart; Parting we can never part
Love Feast Tradition
The song above was written by Charles Wesley in 1740 for the Love Feasts that he and his brother John encouraged amongst the covenant groups of Methodists in England. When we hear the words ‘love feast’ today, we might imagine something from the sixties – flashy colors, platform shoes, and peace signs. But the love feast that John and Charles Wesley celebrated was a passionate part of the Evangelical Revival Movement, begun in 1727 by Count Zinzendorf and the German Moravians. They renewed the practice of the earliest Christian groups, who ate and worshiped together. This practice was called the agape meal from the Greek word which meant an inclusive and unconditional love.
John Wesley first experienced the Love Feast in Savannah, Georgia around 1737 with the Moravians who were working there as well. Wesley’s own diary notes:
After evening prayers, we joined with the Germans in one of the
love-feasts. It was begun and ended with thanksgiving and prayer,
and celebrated in so decent and solemn a manner as a Christian of
the apostolic age would have allowed to be worthy of Christ.
The practice grew among the early groups of Methodists and became an important part of the early American Methodist movement. Vital to the celebration was telling stories of how one was experiencing the transforming love of God in one’s life or in the life of others. Informal singing and sharing of bread with water – a simple meal – were also an important part of the celebration.
As you gather around the Thanksgiving Table this week …
may you discover in the meal a feast of love with those seated with you at the table.