Watchword

Ker-Xavier Roussel Reading a Letter, Edouard Vuillard (c.1890, French)

image :: Ker-Xavier Roussel Reading a Letter, Edouard Vuillard (c.1890, French)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27

We’re getting ready for the start of Lent this Wednesday. I thought I’d give everyone some orientation to the 2016 Lenten Readings before we get there.

Each year I pair Bible texts with commentary in the daily readings. In the past I’ve used various resources such as the Revised Common Lectionary, collects from the Book of Common Prayer, and Wesley’s Scripture Hymns. This year, the Scripture texts will be very brief. This is modeled on a devotional practice I stumbled upon recently that has inspired me.

The Moravian Church has a  form of daily readings which pairs brief Old Testament sentences with New Testament texts. While this pairing is not original with the Moravians, the brevity of the Old Testament sentence (known as a Watchword) caught my attention.

In 1722, refugees from Bohemia and Moravia (modern day Czech Republic) began arriving at the estate of an Austrian nobleman, Nicholas von Zinzendorf. Zinzendorf was a Christian, and granted the refugees asylum and land on which they established the settlement of Herrnhut, which means, “Watch of the Lord”.

Each day, the settlers came together for worship, consciously seeking to live life in light of God’s Word. On May 3, 1728, during the evening service, Zinzendorf gave the congregation what he called a Watchword for the next day. This Watchword was a memorable verse to accompany them through the whole next day.  His vision was that all in the community could share a corporate meditation on Scripture, and that people could easily call to mind the Watchword in conversation & prayer.

As the congregation grew and not all members were able to attend the daily service, members of the church were appointed to go to each of the 32 homes of Herrnhut in the morning and announce the text for the day. These commissioners led the families in pastoral conversations & prayer about the text.

I’m praying that the daily Watchwords of the 2016 Lenten Readings are a help in reflecting on what God has spoken to His people– a memorable meditation on God’s Word as we follow Jesus Christ today.

sound  :: L.A., Elliott Smith (2000)

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