What Are Watchwords?

These Watchwords you are reading are inspired by the Moravian watchwords (“die Losungen”)  that the founder Graf Ludwig von Zinzendorf and his wife Erdmuth Dorothea introduced to the Moravian community in 1728.

Back then, they chose one Old Testament and one New Testament verse daily that were related to each other, accompanied by a matching church hymn verse. Until today, all around the world Moravians read the daily watchword that is annually being translated in many different languages to remind the Moravian and other Christians of God’s promises and presence.

As the (7th generation) Granddaughter of Zinzendorf and as a pastor’s daughter, I grew up with the “Losungen”= “watchwords”. Over the years I learned much about Zinzendorf’s life, but was also especially interested in his wife, my Great Grandmother, Erdmuth Dorothea  von Zinzendorf. She was responsible for the management and the financial and organizational well being of their Estate where they founded and housed the young Moravian church community.

Reading about her life, I learned how my Great Grandmother’s strength and trust in God and in life itself were tested many times when she was often alone, while her husband was either banned from their Estate or traveled the world. She endured the loss and grief of giving birth to twelve children, and then only have one son and one daughter survive into adulthood. She was regarded as a beloved female role model in providing pastoral care and ministry to many. She was a composer and artist writing many church hymns that have shaped the spirituality of the Moravian community until today.

I am honored to be Erdmuth Dorothea’s Great Granddaughter, and I happen to be the first female ordained pastor in this family tree lineage, following six consecutive generations of male Lutheran pastors.

In the past 20 years I have been engaging in daily theological and psychological work and teaching. My multicultural family of choice, my German background and my life in the US for over 24 years have shaped me. My work as an ordained pastor, as a hospital chaplain, as a chaplain educator and more recently as a marriage and family therapist are all influencing my perspective and my writing. My daily “Losungen” (watchwords) are an attempt to integrate all those roles and influences of who I am.

My daily meditations  are written in honor and in memory of my Great Grandmother Erdmuth Dorothea. She has rarely been noticed nor received credit for how influential she was to the successful beginnings, shaping and survival of the Moravian movement.  (To learn more about her life read for example “Erdmuth Dorothea Countess von Zinzendorf – Noble Servant”, by Erika Geiger, translated by Julie Tomerlin Weber)