One Great Hour of Sharing® is the Lenten Offering of the United Church of Christ that supports disaster, refugee, and development, often referred to as missions. The suggested offering date for the One Great Hour of Sharing offering is March 30, 2014. Printed materials should arrive in your church by February 1, 2014. Please check your resources immediately to ensure you have all the items needed to promote the offering. Additional resources are available on the website or can be ordered from UCC Resources by calling toll free 1-800-325-7061.
If you are in need of additonal support to help make promoting the offering in your congregation easier, please contact our office: 216-736-3215
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The list of available resources found below, are for use in the promotion of One Great Hour of Sharing. (Permission is hereby granted to use them accordingly. )
The Printed Leader's Guide
Sample Pastor Letter
Liturgy without Communion
Liturgy with Communion
The complete Leader's Guide
Sample Pastoral Letter
In this age of discord and division, the earnest words of Jesus’ farewell prayer on behalf of his followers could not feel more relevant or more urgent. With his beloved disciples during the Last Supper, Jesus prays for connection and unity. Perhaps he knew that understanding our oneness would be one of our greatest challenges as human beings, and that is why one of his very last acts was to pray for unity. “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22-23). When we understand that we are of God, created by none other than the Creator of all creation, and that we are thus beloved, we reconnect to ourselves, to one another, and to our Divine Parent.
For almost seven decades now, nine denominations in the U.S., united as one, have together been connecting people through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. Sisters and brothers living in poverty who would have been otherwise overlooked, or outright forgotten, have been empowered by our gifts to the offering. The woman who has been a victim of war, attempting on her own to raise her family without any access to long-term food security, education, or health care, is now self-sufficient because of assistance from One Great Hour of Sharing. Families across North America, still struggling to survive after a devastating storm took everything in its path, are accompanied for the long haul, thanks to funds from One Great Hour of Sharing. Each time a gift is given, a connection is made. Every single offering builds another bridge and tears down another wall. Each donation to One Great Hour of Sharing, no matter how large or small, reveals our unity, that in Christ Jesus we are one family. When one of us—anywhere on earth—hurts, we all hurt. As long as there is need, we are all in need. One Great Hour of Sharing enables us to fulfill those needs, for they are our needs.
We are the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the homeless, the hurting. We are one with our sisters and brothers, and we will answer Christ’s call until we all are fed. Until all are fed. Through this ecumenical effort, One Great Hour of Sharing, we connect visibly, effectively, efficiently, and powerfully to answer those needs. Together, we are much stronger. Together, we have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to assist and to connect with those whose lives have now been forever changed.
The legacy lives on. Give generously to this great connector of our churches and our shared faith, work, and witness in the world. Give generously, for as long as a sister or a brother is in need, we are all in need. Thank you for your leadership.
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Worship Resources I: Different, Yet One: Unity Through Servant Love
Liturgy Without Communion
(About the author: Rev. Audrey deCoursey is ordained in the Church of the Brethren. She has served in congregational and hospital ministry in Elgin, Illinois, and Portland, Oregon. She is currently the pastor of a new online church, the Living Stream Church of the Brethren.)
Call to Worship
One: From many lands, we gather as a people. With diverse homelands, backgrounds, and experiences shaping who we are today:
Many: Out of many, we are one.
One: Of different ages and abilities, we gather as a people. Wearing different clothing, filling different roles, speaking many languages, singing different songs:
Many: Out of many, we are one.
One: With diverse hopes and dreams, we gather as a people. Of different personality types and interests, with multiple ministries and callings:
Many: Out of many, we are one.
One: Each carrying within us many voices, we gather as a people, holding happiness alongside hurt, often in the same moment. Inside every one of us, a crowd of ideas, feelings, and questions:
Many: Out of many, we are one.
One: In Christ, we come together and find a deeper unity. People of God, come and worship, that out of many, all may be one! Come to worship our God!
Generous Creator, Source of all life, you have given us all we need. Let us know you, within and among us this hour. Feed us from the bread of life that sustains us daily. Heal our spirits with a balm of peace for all brokenness. Shelter us in the sanctuary of your love. Fill the inner well that so often runs dry in us, that we may be renewed springs of hope for all the world. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
God of all, too often we stick to our small but safe comfort zones. Guide us into the places you are working in the world: with those in need, with those who are hurting. Lead us to the places in life where we are needed. Too often we align with society’s clocks and calendars that keep us busy; we create for ourselves schedules set by society’s priorities instead of yours. Help us return to your time, where the hour to choose discipleship is always now. God of all, too often we give in to the values of the marketplace, as if debts and credits were adequate calculation of human worth. Draw us back to your values, that we may share freely and love generously, in the spirit of One who shared with us beyond measure. Too often we see only differences when we look at the faces around us, fearful of recognizing those in need, those living with lack. Welcome us into relationship with all of your beloved children, each of whom reveals your holy image.
God of all the Earth, all beings, all time, all space, all love, all mercy, we confess that we are tempted by the lures of a world that sells passing happiness in place of true joy. We confess that we are fearful of the vulnerability of oneness with new people and with you. We confess that we settle for our small, but safe comfort zones over the vision of the thriving global family you created us to be.
Words of Assurance
The God of all has mercy for all! Embrace your freedom to grow in trust and faith in the One who loved you first.
Litany of Compassion
All: We are the hungry.
Voice One: Come, and be filled.
All: We are the thirsty.
Voice Two: Come, and drink deeply.
All: We are the sick.
Voice One: Come, and experience healing.
All: We are the homeless.
Voice Two: Come, and find shelter.
All: We are the hurting.
Voice One: Come, and feel comfort.
Voice Two: We are the needy. We need liberation. We need hope.
Voice One: But we are also the strong ones. We are the ones who can help.
Voice Two: We are the ones who will, in the face of hopelessness and hurt, reach out in kindness. We are the ones who live our faith every hour, by sharing with all of God’s beloved children.
All: We are one with our sisters and brothers, and we will answer Christ’s call until all are fed.
Invitation to the Offering
In the spirit of Christ, we are one. Around the world and across the ages, we are one. Through sharing our lives, prayers, and money, we are one with all of God’s beloved children.
Our giving through One Great Hour of Sharing unites us with Christians from Church World Service and nine denominations:
American Baptist Church
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Church of the Brethren
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reformed Church in America
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
Our partnership alone is worth celebrating; what we do together is even more inspiring. Our giving is magnified beyond what any of us could do alone, when we serve together in the spirit of Christ. For over 65 years, we, the United Church of Christ have worked with and through partnerships to serve God through our sharing, and in return we see the image of God who unites us all.
Our giving today unites us with all who are in need. The gifts that we offer today will be used for concrete ministries that further God’s work in the world. In Matthew 25, Jesus told his disciples where to focus their ministry: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned. Those deemed righteous wondered when they served their Lord in all these ways. He explained, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Who are the ones considered “least” in our global family today? How can we be one with them in this moment? That question guides our giving through One Great Hour of Sharing.
Our offering makes the love of Christ real for individuals and communities around the world who suffer from disaster, conflict, or poverty. One Great Hour of Sharing ministries reach people worldwide, including Canada and the United States. Together we provide disaster relief, health care, education, job training, shelter, schools, clean water, and food. Our offering to One Great Hour of Sharing helps meet needs that make the headlines and needs that headlines ignore. We give to this ministry this day, but the good work done by our gifts gives life again, and again, and lasts much longer.
Share today and know you are one with your sisters and brothers around the world. Thank you for sharing!
Generous God, bless these gifts that we return to you, and bless the hearts that give. Unite our hearts with those hearts that will be strengthened, helped, and healed through these gifts. May this money be used faithfully and purposefully, furthering your reign of compassion and justice around the world. Amen.
Charge and Benediction
From our oneness in Christ, you are called to many places to serve the rich diversity of God’s creation. Go in faith that when you share of yourself, you are united with a global family that holds you in love. Go in peace. Amen.
Alternate Charge and Benediction
God has created you for a journey and anointed you with the ability to see it through. Follow God’s calling to feed, to give drink, to visit, and to provide for the “least of” God’s children. In so doing, they will know of your love for God. Amen
Brothers and Sisters of Mine Are the Hungry
For We Are Strangers No More
Help Us to Help Each Other, Lord
O Let All Who Thirst
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy
We Are One in the Spirit
Won’t You Let Me Be Your Servant
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Liturgy with Communion
(About the author: Bekah Houff serves as Coordinator of Outreach Programs at Bethany Theological Seminary, a Church of the Brethren seminary in Richmond, Indiana.)
Call to Worship
Come. Let us worship the God in whom we are one! Let us gather with joy and purpose, compassion and generosity. Let us worship God with loving hearts.
Living and loving God, we come to you as one people with many backgrounds, traditions, gifts, and callings. We gather to celebrate our oneness, to remember your son’s devotion of complete love to all humankind, and to give of what we can to sisters and brothers across our nation. We remember many in this world who find themselves in need of an extra hand to help them through life’s trials. Giving and loving God, lead us through this time of worship. Give action to our words and our faith as we stretch ourselves beyond these church walls to places across the world. For we know that when we love and give to others, we are loving and giving to you, O God. Amen.
Litany (adapted from John 17:22-24 and the One Great Hour of Sharing theme poster)
One: Jesus prayed to God, “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
Many: We are the hungry. We are the thirsty.
One: “I in them, and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Many: We are the sick, the homeless, the hurting.
One: “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Many: We are one with our sisters and brothers.
All: And we will answer Christ’s call until we all are fed.
Prayer of Confession
God of all people, we confess that we sometimes forget we are one of many. In our world of me, mines, and ours, we neglect the needs of others outside our own families. We forget about the losses of other people stuck in cycles of poverty and despair. Revive us, O God. Lead us out of our self-consumed and over-worked lives into community. Guide our feet to action, our hands to embracing, our hearts to loving, and our lives to sharing the many things with which you have blessed us. In the name of Jesus, the one who inspires us to love on another, we pray. Amen.
Words of Assurance
God’s love is all encompassing. God hears our cries, accompanies us in our confusion, and encourages us when we miss the mark. God’s love is with us along every path we walk and with every person we encounter. Thanks be to God!
From North America to Africa, from Asia to Europe, in towering mansions and gritty slums, in cardboard boxes and suburban homes, we are all children of God.
The writer of the fourth Gospel depicts Jesus, even with death impending, praying for his disciples. He prays that God might make us all one so that we can be a community of love. In John 17:21-23, Jesus prays three times: “that they may all be one.” There is no doubt that Jesus calls us to unity.
One Great Hour of Sharing gives us a marvelous opportunity to remember our unity and to offer our gifts to benefit people all around the world. If one brother or sister is hungry, thirsty, or recovering from a disaster, then we all are. As you offer your gifts this morning, put yourself in another’s shoes. Imagine that someone else’s great need is your great need. Give what you can; give because you feel called; give remembering that sisters and brothers around the world would also give to you. And let us all pray together: May we be one, may we be one, may we be one.
God who cares for all of us, take these gifts and use them to benefit the hungry, the thirsty, the lost, and the broken. As our offerings contribute to the oneness of all humanity, may they also provide food, shelter, water, and comfort to those in need. Amen.
Invitation to Communion
As we come to the table we remember Christ who earnestly prayed for all of us even in the face of crucifixion, Christ who calls us to break bread together, Christ who calls us to love one another. Let all those who are reminded of Christ’s love for community, for brothers and sisters who are in need, come and share this bread and this cup.
God of love, let us remember this community that is being formed around your table today. Let us take this act of communion into the world with us as we spread the love and the message of Christ. May it strengthen our faith, increase our generosity to neighbors, and unite us with others around the world. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Go, knowing that you are one with sisters and brothers around the world. Go, knowing that you are connected with and loved by others. Go, spread God’s love, for it knows no boundaries. Amen.
How Good a Thing It Is
Bless’d Be the Tie that Binds
For We Are Strangers No More
Help Us to Help Each Other
In Christ There Is No East or West
Let the Hungry Come to Me
Let Us Break Bread Together
Seed, Scattered and Sown
Creating God, Your Fingers Trace
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Different, Yet One: Unity Through Servant Love
(About the author: Frank Ramirez is the pastor of the Everett (Pennsylvania) Church of the Brethren. He and his wife Jennie share three children and three grandchildren.)
Jesus prayed this prayer at one of the most desperate times of his life. Finishing the Last Supper, just before he is thrust into the hands of soldiers to be taken to the cross, Jesus offers last words of comfort and encouragement to his disciples. His very last act of farewell is to pray for unity among those present with him in that moment and among those who would hear the message they would proclaim.
I’m so grateful Jesus prayed this prayer. The disciples then and Christians for the next 2,000 years certainly have needed all the prayer they could get. In the first century we argued over whether new Christians had to be circumcised and follow the dietary laws. In later centuries we would disagree about the nature of Jesus and the Trinity. Skipping a few centuries and a few not-so-holy wars, we Christians are still searching for common ground. Could anyone really say there is a single Christian understanding of Jesus? Of the Bible? Of the Trinity? Of baptism, communion, or worship? Gun control, abortion, or marriage? Differences of understanding exist in our congregation, let alone in the whole Body of Christ.
Are we left to believe that Jesus’ prayer so long ago for unity just didn’t work...or might something else be at work? Certainly differences and disagreements are easy to find in a world rife with political, ecological, and theological turmoil. It is a blessed gift and challenge for our churches, then, to see those ways in which we truly do embody the Oneness that Jesus prayed for—a Oneness that makes manifest the Glory of God.
Many of us have had the privilege of talking with or working beside someone from another Christian tradition, especially if we’ve offered our gifts at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter or other such service project. In just a short time, we could tell the other person belief were different, theologically, socially, and politically. If we talked about our understandings of the Bible, we would most likely have disagreed. If we talked about the nature of Jesus, we would have disagreed. If we talked about evolution, gun control, and gay rights, we would surely have disagreed. But none of that mattered at the moment because our unity was not found in what we believed about those things, but found in the simple truth that we had common work to do, and it would get done quicker with more hands.
It may be time to give up on the idea of all of us believing the same things. Life, culture, traditions, and people are so different and complicated. Beliefs are important: they help shape who we are and what we do. But we too often let beliefs become barriers when they don’t need to be.
The unity of the Body of Christ is seen most clearly, passionately, and convincingly in the servant love we share with one another and the world. Beliefs and theological conversations matter, but nothing shows Jesus’ love like a bunch of people who love their neighbor with action, enthusiasm, and purpose. One Great Hour of Sharing has embodied this for a long time. Working together as one Church but made up of many churches, with ecumenical partners around the world, we spend little time debating Christology, pneumatology, and eschatology and a lot of time connecting communities to resources, connecting people to one another, and serving the least of these in great times of need. As individuals and congregations may we be about the same business—to love as Jesus loved, to serve as Jesus served, to be one—so God’s glory might be revealed in and through us.
About the author: Rev. Chad Delaney serves at Mantua Center Christian Church in Mantua, Ohio. He and his wife Christin have three school-aged children and live in Hiram, Ohio.?
Children’s Sermon: Loved Before We Are Known
(This story is to be told in advance of One Great Hour of Sharing.)
We are all very different. We’re all different sizes, we like different foods, we have favorite things to do that are different from each other. But being different doesn’t stop us from loving each other or from being one family in Jesus.
Do you know that someone loved you before anyone knew anything about you? Your family members loved you before they even saw you. You were loved before anyone even knew if you were a boy or a girl, before they knew what size you would be, what food you would like, or what your favorite thing to do would be. You weren’t even here yet and it was already settled: You are loved!
Jesus told his friends that God loved him “before the foundation of the world.” That means before there was anything, God already loved him! And Jesus told his friends that God shares the same love with us, because God wants us to be one family, the kind of family where we love each other even before we know each other!
We will soon have a special offering. (Mention how many Sundays remain until One Great Hour of Sharing.) It is called One Great Hour of Sharing. There are people around the world who we do not know yet. We have not met them yet. But we love them and we care about them. Some of them are hungry. Some of them are sick. Some of them have lost everything in a disaster like a flood, storm, or earthquake. These people are part of our family and we love them, even if we have not met them yet. We are collecting money to help them because we love them. And it’s not only us! There are many people in many different kinds of churches who know about Jesus and how Jesus wants us to be one family. These people want to help out, too.
So let’s all plan to help out. If you have some money you want to give, check with your parent(s) and bring some to the offering ____ (next week or whenever the offering will be given). Encourage your family to also support the offering. Let’s give together because we were loved even before anyone knew us, and we want to help others, even before we meet them, because we love them too.
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Children’s Sermon: Quilted Together
(About the author: Pam Auble earned a Masters of Christian Education from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and has served as a Diaconal Minister in the United Methodist Church, as well as a Licensed Pastor in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ).
Gather the following materials:
• a quilt whose top cover is made from pieces of different-colored fabric sewn together. If a quiltmaker is part of your congregation, use one s/he has made.
• extra pieces of different fabrics, cut into small sizes similar to those in the quilt. In a pinch, squares of different-colored paper will do. Have enough fabric/paper for each child to have one piece.
Remember to allow time for the children to answer the questions you pose.
Good morning, children. I have a special blanket here for you to see and touch. What kind of blanket is it? That’s right; it’s a quilt. How do you think the quiltmaker made it? To make the top, s/he carefully sewed together hundreds of little pieces of fabric. Look at the thousands of tiny stitches! Then s/he made the backside of the quilt. Between the front and the back, there’s stuffing, called batting, that helps make the quilt fluffy and warm. We’ll have to imagine what the batting looks like because we can’t see it; it’s inside the quilt. After all these parts were prepared, s/he made a “sandwich” of the top, the batting, and the back, and then sewed the three layers together.
How would you feel if you were cuddled up under this quilt at home? (Point to or hold up a finished quilt.) I bet you’d be warm as toast! Today I want to share a piece of quilt with you so you can take it home and be warm under it. (Give one of the small pieces of fabric to each child.)
Well, there you go. You each have a little bit of quilt. Will it keep you warm tonight in bed? Probably not. What is needed to make this a warm quilt? All the different little pieces actually need each other to make a warm blanket. And they need to be sewn together to batting and the backing. If we sewed ___’s (child’s name) piece to ___’s (child’s name) piece and then added ___’s (child’s name) piece and ___’s (child’s name) piece, we’d be on our way to making a blanket to keep someone warm. Even though the little pieces are different from each other, they go together really well and can make something both beautiful and warm. These pieces all need to be made into ONE!
Jesus wants us to be one—kind of like being sewn together but without the needle and thread. He knew that we would need to work together to help people. For example, if a family needs food after a storm ruins their house, ___ (child’s name), ___ (child’s name), ___ (child’s name), and ___ (child’s name) might work together to buy them new food. Getting enough food would probably be more than ___ (child’s name) could do by him/herself. But if we work together, we could do it. If a school needs to be rebuilt after an earthquake, ___ (child’s name) will need help moving the building supplies into place. S/He’ll need us all to work together as one big group. We might even need more people to help us.
Working together to help people is what we do through One Great Hour of Sharing. Together with Christians from every state in the whole United States, we help get healthy food and clean water to people who don’t have enough. We help build schools so students can get a good education, bring doctors and nurses to help people who are sick or injured, and provide shelter after devastating storms.
Working together to handle problems bigger than we can handle alone is like sewing the separate pieces of fabric together to make a quilt big enough to actually keep someone warm. And, when we share our love with people, we add them to the quilt, too, making our quilt of love bigger and bigger.
Whenever you hear of someone who needs help, I hope you’ll try to help. A great way to help is to give to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, along with the other members of our congregation.
Will you join me in prayer? God, thank you for quilts that are sewn together and keep people warm. Help us to work together like a big quilt to help people in need. Remind us to be sewn together with other helpers, like through One Great Hour of Sharing, when the problems get really big. We are happy to know that you are always sewn together with us, too. Amen.