Christel as a Role Model for Unity
We look upon Christian Renatus von Zinzendorf (Christel) as a role model for unity in two ways: on a personal basis during his life and on a trans-personal basis in his death.
During his life, Christel developed rituals in which he and his brothers physically consummated the divine marriage between Christ the living spirit as the Bridegroom and themselves as his brides. They could do this because they believed Christ was physically and literally existing within Christian Renatus. For his brothers, Christel was the host for Christ, who incarnated himself through the body of Christel, the first unity of body and spirit. Sharing Christ among them through physical union between Christel and his brothers was the second unity of body and spirit.
This idea began with his very naming by his parents, Christian Renatus, Christ Returns. The year of his birth was also significant, 1727, the very year of the Great Awakening in which the Moravian refugees living on the estates of Christel’s father, Nicholas von Zinzendorf, experienced the fiery presence of Christ among them. This caused a renewal of their belief in themselves as God’s elected people. The reinvigorated church dates its rebirth from this year, which expressed itself in the start of a vast missionary effort to the ends of the earth. It was also expressed in the birth of Christian Renatus, the living embodiment of Christ’s grace and blessing as he incarnated, once again, in a newborn babe, another sign of the United Brethren’s election.
The presence of Christ meant the Brethren were living at the very end of time, at the end of Revelation, when Christ reappeared on earth to rule. For them, their community of Herrnhaag (the Lord’s Grove, which they took literally) was New Jerusalem existing in a glorified New Eden. This was the union of earth and spirit for a thousand years. The brothers themselves became brides because they believed all souls were female.
After his death, Christel’s brothers, who came from Herrnhaag to live at Christiansbrunn, believed his spirit lived again in the sacred spring. They believed that by drinking the water, one took Christel inside. Christel’s spirit merged with the earth in a new union in which one could share and partake. For his brothers, Christel was the host for Christ, who incarnated himself through the body of Christel.
At the Hermitage, we maintain our own sacred spring where the spirit of Christel resides. We live, as did our brothers at Herrnhaag, at the end of time, at the end of Revelation, where New Jerusalem and New Eden appear through our holy work and merge into union of the spirit and the earth, of the physical and the metaphysical, of the finite with the infinite, of the timely with the eternal. Creating, maintaining and experiencing this union is our great work.