A Christmas Promise:
A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773
During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.
When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.
Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.
December 23, 1773, Schoenbrunn Village, Ohio
Anna Brunner kneaded dough while she tried not to notice it was almost dusk. Her husband still wasn’t home. She wiped her hands on her apron and glanced out the six-pane window. The last glint of sunlight blazed the horizon gleaming on the dirt path. No trace of him.
After scooping some sugar, she worked it into the dough and strove to reflect on the Christmas Eve Lovefeast and all the work she had ahead. She’d been honored with the mission of making the sweet buns and would be one of the Dieners serving the meal at their newly built church.
It did no good to fret about what was going on at the meeting down the road. She’d find out soon enough. She released her anxiety on the dough as she squeezed her fingers through and pounded it into shape.
After living in this village for over a year, celebrating the yuletide with all the fanfare it deserved would make up for everything.
The children giggled as they finished a game of jackstraws. Belinda, eight years old, failed to remove a straw without touching the others, and Lisel, the round faced six-year-old, smirked as she shouted out in triumph. Three-year-old Katrina’s brown curls bounced as she clapped for Lisel. She hadn’t managed to win any rounds, but Belinda insisted they let her play until a winner had been declared.
Let’s get the tree ready,‛ Belinda said.
The girls threw the wheat straws in a basket and dashed to the wooden pyramid frame their father had built. Large boughs were stacked in the corner of the room. Earlier today, before John was beckoned, he’d cut them from the pine trees that lined God’s Acre, the village cemetery.
Moravians didn’t cut down trees and drag them into houses the way some did. By using the frame built from wood, and boughs cut from limbs, they still managed to build a nice Christmas tree.
Once all the limbs were in place, the girls would decorate it with pieces of paper with Scripture verses written on them, and pure white beeswax candles with red ribbons tied around them to represent Jesus, the light of the world, who shed his blood on the cross.
Maybe this year will be better.
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