In his final moments with his disciples, the Good Shepherd asks Peter, "Do you love me?" "Yes," Peter replies. Then, "Feed my lambs," Jesus tells him. "Tend my sheep." Three times, Jesus passionately repeats his instruction, pressing his followers: If you love me, take care of the people I love. (John 21:15-19)
The members of the family of God including those in parts of the world we may never visit, are God's flock, the sheep of God's pasture (Ezekiel 34:31). Yet, God's flock is often forcefully scattered as people are chased from their homes and livelihoods by brutal expressions of war, or as communities are blasted by natural disasters, or as societies and countries are ground down by unrelenting hunger, disease, and poverty.
Soon, you'll have an opportunity to offer your gift to One Great Hour of Sharing, empowering the United Church of Christ to offer disaster relief and refugee aid, meeting basic needs in Christ's name throughout the world. Soon, each of us will have the opportunity to decide how to participate in an offering that helps strengthen people to improve their own lives and communities.
Through One Great Hour of Sharing:
- disaster victims quickly receive shelter, food, water, and medical supplies
- local communities develop secure sources of food and clean water
- minds and bodies grow stronger with new schools and medical clinics
- refugees receive housing and long-term help to construct new lives
- women and communities are empowered through micro-credit loans and community development opportunities.
In challenging times, we often wonder how much we can afford to sacrifice to help feed Jesus' beloved sheep, when our needs remain pressing. Perhaps only through prayer can we decide how to respond to Jesus' call to feed His Sheep. Remember the feeding of the 5,000: when Jesus asked the disciples to feed the hungry crowd, the disciples despaired (Mark 6:34-44). The five loaves and two fish seemed insignificant compared to the massive need. Yet when each gave sacrificially from what they had, through God's blessing, their gifts turned into a miracle of compassion for all.
Through One Great Hour of Sharing, our gifts meet compelling needs, while also bringing the blessing of compassion into our own lives. The current economic situation is challenging for many of us. For many others, it has pushed beyond challenging to be life-threatening. I intend to increase my gift this year, and encourage you to consider doing so, also. Heed Jesus' call to feed his sheep with a generous, even sacrificial, gift to One Great Hour of Sharing. Sharing your resources, you'll change lives — including your own.
Pastor / Offering Coordinator