The Moravian Star Game

Matthew 2

One year my husband and I were taking a van full of children to see Christmas lights. Knowing the drive would be long, he suddenly said, “Let’s play a game ! “. Dividing our group into teams, he explained the winning team would be the one who could find the most Moravian Stars during our trip. All you had to do is be the first one to yell, “Moravian Star !” when you spotted one of the unique 26-point stars. Over the years, this simple game has grown in popularity with our family and friends until my husband had to write a small rule book that he posts every year on FaceBook. It is so much fun to have friends and family across the country post pictures to help our team win. My husband never knew the Moravian Star Game would bring so much joy to so many people.

But you may ask, “What is a Moravian Star?”. Please, indulge the history teacher in me and allow me to share a crucial piece of information. A hundred years before Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation, by nailing his ninety-nine thesis, John Hus and his followers attempted to reform the Catholic Church. The issue got down to an essential biblical truth, salvation does not come from works, but grace. (Ephesians 2:8) To stop John Hus, his enemies tried Hus and burned him at-the-stake in 1415. But the truth of God’s Word could not be silenced. In Germany, one group of his followers began to be called Moravians because of their church’s birthplace in Moravia. Eventually, the Moravians would come to an area in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to flee persecution and have the freedom to worship God.

In 1830 a Moravian Boys School in Niesky, Germany, was celebrating its 50th anniversary. A Geometry teacher in the school asked his students to design a 110 point star to honor the school’s anniversary. Years later, most of the students had long forgotten the assignment and the beautiful stars that decorated the school. But in 1880, one of those students, Peter Verbeck, needed to boost sales at his small bookstore. He recalled the experience and decided to make the stars to hang in his window to attract customers. Customers came into his store, not for books but to purchase the stars. He could not make the stars quickly enough to meet the demand. Before long, Peter stopped selling books and hired help to open his “star factory.” Except for shutdowns for World War I and World War II, that same factory, now owned by the Moravian Church, still produces stars for customers all over the world. 

Winston-Salem, N.C. is the home of Christian Cheerleaders of America and a city filled with Moravian stars. Since the founding of Old Salem in 1753, the Moravian heritage is abundant in our town. It does not seem like Christmas without the Moravian Candle Tea, Moravian cookies, and of course, Moravian stars. Downtown Winston-Salem has 64 Moravian stars that have lined the streets since 1959. And the world’s largest Moravian star,31 feet tall, sets on top of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. 

So it is only fitting that our friends and family ride through the streets of Winston-Salem, searching the darkness so they might yell, “Moravian Star !”.

With calculated care, Julius Lineback pieces together the rays of the Moravian star. He was Winston-Salem’s only star-maker until his death in 1930, at which time his son took over. 

As I turn to the book of Matthew, I wonder how dark things must have gotten, for God to sit in silence the four-hundred between testaments? His beloved Israel pursued all the “voices” around them, yet closed their ears and their hearts to the Almighty God. As humanity rejected God, the world filled with corruption, materialism, blood-shed, self-worship, depravity, and spiritual darkness. 

The night sky was as dark as the hopeless void that filled the hearts of God’s creation. But it was into this darkened sky that God sent a star, “I Jesus…am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (Revelation 22:16) No matter how dark a person’s heart or how dark our world may grow, there is an eternal star shining brightly for all to see. God offers love, forgiveness, cleansing from sin, life-transforming grace, and light to the hopeless void in your heart. If you are aimlessly riding through a dark empty life, let your voice pierce the darkness, and call out, “JESUS.”