It is not a coincidence that Lesby lives in the town "El Porvenir" which means the future. She has always been focused on how to improve her future and that of her baby Selby. Life in this municipality is not easy. Almost 40% of its inhabitants live in extreme poverty and 16% of babies and children face chronic malnutrition. However, children in this area live in better conditions than in other border municipalities in the south where almost half of children suffer from chronic diseases, learning disorders, and developmental delays as a result of chronic malnutrition.
Fortunately, Lesby had access to prenatal care at a local clinic, had an uncomplicated pregnancy, and after nine months gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby. Lesby recalls that thanks to the education she received at the clinic she was able to balance her diet with more fruits, vegetables, and meat which greatly benefited Selby.
But what price did she pay for a pregnancy without setbacks that resulted in a healthy and strong baby? Selby's father had to migrate to the United States in search of a better future for his family. Having her partner far away left Lesby with mixed emotions. On the one hand she is grateful for the economic opportunities it entails, but on the other hand, her daughter does not know her father.
The separation of the family has been difficult. Selby's father is one of the approximately 3.2 million Central Americans who live and work in the United States. Thanks to the remittances that Lesby receives month after month from the United States, she was able to access nutritious food during her pregnancy. She also had enough money to participate in a Habitat for Humanity program to build her house, a home where Selby can now play, eat, and sleep in a safe environment.
Thanks to your support, children like Selby have a brighter future. Better health and a safe environment during childhood will have lifelong benefits.
Bread for the World is supported by contributions from One Great Hour of Sharing. And because of our support, Bread for the World has invited interested parties to participate in a conference call with special guest, Dr. Lawrence Haddad, co-winner of the 2018 World Food Prize. The Conference call will take place on Tuesday, March 19, at 3:00 pm Eastern Time. Join us in the fight to end hunger. Call 773-231-9226 and use access code 149 691 3232#.
Lectionary Preaching Notes from the lens of UCC Humanitarian and Development Ministries
(Disaster, Refugee and Global Sustainable Development)
These ministries are made possible by your participation in the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering (UCC)
Text: Luke 5: 1-11
Preaching Focus: Following Jesus means making an impact for the common good that is more than we can imagine.
Interpretation and Informing Stories
The disciples are fishing, without success. This story like many others has multiple layers of meaning. There is the physical, that these people who fish for a living, need that catch for their livelihood. No fish – no income. Jesus steps in and the fish that have eluded them are present in abundance.
In UCC sustainable development ministries, we are part of such experiences in sustainable agricultural work. In Central America, people need their farms and gardens to produce food in order to live. When that land does not produce food because climate change has caused drought or violence has made it dangerous to cultivate the land, people suffer. They need the land to produce food for their livelihood. When people are brought together to teach each other new cultivation techniques that work in the new drought-prone lands, or when access to a microsavings loan cooperative enables women to gain access to cash for agricultural inputs, the community as a whole is strengthened. Families have money for uniforms and shoes to send their children to school. People connect with their neighbors in new ways to depend on each other. These strong communities have a greater impact than we can imagine. Communities thrive. Violence is curbed. People can stay in their home countries and not have to risk a dangerous journey north to try to enter the U.S. for asylum.
The story of disciples and the disciples fishing also has a layer of meaning about where assistance comes from. In humanitarian work, the danger is that those with access to resources may create systems that exercise power over rather than power with those who need access to those resources. Whether deliberate or not, the transfer of resources can become disempowering rather than a building up of community. A needs-based mission based on identifying needs and then meeting those needs can be disempowering. A grace-ful mission, however, identifies strengths and gifts present among a community and seeks new ways that these strengths can be brought together for the building up of community.
Greg Jarrell, in his 2018 book “A Riff on Love,” exemplifies this asset and strengths-based approach to life and faith. Using his experiences as part of the Enderly Park Community in Charlotte, North Carolina and as a professional saxophonist, Greg writes of abundant community and belonging. As the book cover notes “Surprising teachers. Tragic losses. Unexpected gifts. Every neighborhood has stories and ways of singing the stories of their place. Start digging in, and you find all sorts of music. In a neighborhood skilled in improvisation, like Enderly Park, you also discover new ways to sing those songs, and a choir of new kinfolk to sing them with.” I recommend this book to you for your devotional and activist reading.
Be Thou My Vision
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OGHS travel makes our work in the world through the United Church of Christ come alive. Listen to these testimonials and consider how you can be involved in future trips.Read more
The following resources have been created for your use. Feel free to print, adapt, and use them in your setting as needed to promote the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. If you have the opportunity to video the activities you decide to do, send them to email@example.com and we will share them with our wider audience. Enjoy!
ALL: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.
LEADER: Can we hear with the ears of Justice? Hear the clattering sounds beneath the pots and pans in kitchens where more than hot meals are stewing. Can we remember those who are themselves hungry and starving for a world where there are good opportunities for all. Where those with overstuffed bellies share from their abundance with those who need it, without judgement, pity, or indifference.
All: I needed clothes and you clothed me…
Leader: Can we be moved by Justice? To clothe the factory worker with fair wages as she mends garments for major brands that profit from her toil?
All: I was sick, and you looked after me; I was in prison, and you came to visit me.
Leader: Can we escape the prevalence of injustice? When will we truly see men, women and even children who are deprived of liberty, freedom and independence because of the color of their skins, their zip codes, and a lack of access to good education and employment.
All: “Then the righteous will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’”
Leader: Where is Love in Justice? It is in the courage of those who use their freedom to fight for the liberation of the oppressed. In the truth-telling of those who use their pens to author policy and legislation, holding accountable those who commit crimes against humanity.
All: “The [Lord] will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Leader: We are the sum of Justice. We are here to be the light of God in the world. We are here to use our voices to expose systems of oppression and suffering. We are here to use our collective strength to be bands of love and witnesses for peace, kindness and good. We are here to use wisdom, knowledge, resources and privilege to advocate for all—no matter gender, race, orientation or affluence.
All: “The [Lord] will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Let us gather ourselves so the sums of our bodies, minds and spirits will speak! So the power of our voices will be a wellspring for love; so the hungry are fed; the naked are clothed; the imprisoned remembered; and the homeless welcomed. So the pounding of our feet will dismantle oppression; and create a spirited rumbling for justice in the land.
Leader: Let us find justice within ourselves. For this is the prophetic Word and Wisdom of God.
All: God is here and comforts the poor, oppressed and brokenhearted. We are here in the midst of the crisis, disaster and suffering. We are here— present, prayerful and purposeful amidst God’s people. We are here because we are the ones we have been waiting for. Amen
The skit involves two actors; and a large colorful paper map with stickers, paper map pins, or other bodacious markers to indicate places visited around the world. The actors are called Max and Jesse as these names are commonly used as multi-gendered names (Max/Maxine/Jessie/Jesse).
Max: (Max is standing proudly holding the large colorful paper map. There could be a table next to the person, with large markers, oversized map pins, and miscellaneous items to suggest global travel). As Jesse approaches, Max is just beginning to gleefully place his or her map on the table to place more pins on it.
Jesse: You look pretty happy, Max. What’s up?
Max: I just had the best summer, traveling the world. I am pinning my map so I can recall all of the places I experienced and the amazing people I encountered along the way.
Jesse: You, traveled the world (In a shocking and not so convinced tone)? I saw you in the mall all summer. And when you weren’t there; I saw you at the Starbucks surfing the internet. Did I miss something here? I didn’t even know you had a passport.
Max: Well, I traveled all the way to Ghana and my family and I helped with water irrigation projects so folks can have clean water nearby without having to travel miles to fetch it. There was a young girl there who couldn’t go to school because she had to spend her time hauling water. But now, she can go to school because of our help. That makes me feel wonderful (with great exaggeration and emphasis)!
Jesse: Let me get this straight. You spent your summer helping families in Ghana get accessible water?
Jesse: You, the same Max that texts me while I am sitting right next to you? You, the same Max that pays your little brother to finish your chores for you? You did all of that?
Max: Yep. That’s right. I am a changed person.
Jesse: In one summer?
Max: Nope. In one hour?
Jesse: Huh? Ok. Now I am really worried about you, Max. In one hour?
Max: Yes, “One Great Hour of Sharing”. I went to church with my family and we learned all about ways we can help make a difference in the world through our offerings. A gift to One Great Hour of Sharing “enables the church to share God’s love with our neighbors-in-need around the world by providing relief to those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry, and helping to empower the poor and oppressed.”
Jesse: That’s pretty awesome, Max. I am proud of you. In fact, it sounds a lot like the scripture my parents quote all of the time. In Matthew Jesus is quoted saying...“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…”
Max: Exactly, Jesse. I may not have physically been in all of these places. But through our giving, my family and I were able to touch lives all over the world. When you saw me in Starbucks, I was reading the OGHS stories about these impacted communities on-line and my parents make our family’s offering through on-line giving, too.
Jesse: That makes a lot of sense. I get the full picture now! Matthew also said that Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” So I guess you can say, you not only traveled the world this summer, Max, but you hung out with Jesus, too? Because you are here, God is here, too.
Max: Yeah. I guess you can say that. Because “WE” are here, God is here!
Jesse: I am going to tell my family about One Great Hour of Sharing so we can travel the world, too!
Max: Hey, Jesse, why don’t you help me place these pins on my map and I can tell you more stories about the places I encountered this summer!
Jesse: Sounds like a plan! (With excitement, Jesse helps Max place more pins on the map) Maybe afterwards, we can go to Starbucks!
(Pre-K, Lower Elementary)
Objectives: Children will imagine what it is like to be thirsty and use problem solving skills to imagine ways to ensure everyone has enough to drink. Children will learn about real-world situations where people do not have access to clean water.
Supplies: Cups and 2 pitchers of water (1 hidden if possible). Please recyclable cups if recycle bin is available.
Instructions (part 1):
Ask the children who would like a drink of water by a show of hands. Then invite the children to come forward and receive one of the clear plastic cups, splitting them into two groups as you go.
Once all of the children have their cups, take the pitcher of water and fill only the cups for the children in group #1. Remind them not to drink yet. Leave the cups empty for the children in group #2 telling them there is not enough for the entire group. Invite the children with water to drink their beverage. Ask them to hold onto their cups.
Processing (part 1):
Say: Imagine to yourself for a few moments, how could we have helped everyone have something to drink? Allow the children to respond.
Instructions (part 2):
Processing (part 2):
Conclude with one of the following short stories about access to water:
Remind the children that every act of sharing is an act demonstrating God’s love, presence and care for every member of the community. Giving to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering is one way to share in this important ministry of service to communities in their hour of need.
CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY II: Soup Pot Parable
Objectives: The children will begin to imagine ways they can share and invite others to the table and will explore in story how we rely on one another. The children will be introduced to the OGHS offering and its importance.
Supplies: Printed copies of the story, props or materials to make props for imaginary pots of soup, bowls, serving spoons, eating spoons, tables.
Gather the group to hear the story. Read it aloud once or twice. Discuss as a group what the important parts of the story are and what the message of the story is.
Split the group into “casts.” Invite them to stage their own versions of the story—they might have someone read the story while the others pantomime, or turn it into a script they can act out, or put on a puppet show. If time allows, encourage them to create props; if time is short, provide props for them to choose from. Have each “cast” perform their version for the whole group.
Gather the group and ask for four volunteers. Give child #1 the big pot of imaginary soup (perhaps even have oven mitts and a chef’s apron). Give child #2 the bowls. Give child #3 the four spoons. Child #4 should sit alone at a small table or sit on a community mat big enough for four or more people. The remaining children may volunteer to help read the story aloud. As the story is read aloud, the volunteers will act it out, silently.
The Story: There was once a place called Good Hope. Around supper time, the people of Good Hope would imagine their favorite meal with delicious flavors, and aromas. Alas, no matter how much they imagined, their plates were empty.
One person had a drawer full of spoons but no bowl or soup. Another had a nice bowl, but it was empty. Finally, the third neighbor had a pot and ingredients for soup, but no spoon to stir or serve it.
The neighbor with the soup sat down on his stoop and cried, “I don’t even have a spoon to stir and serve my soup. I will surely starve.”
The neighbor with the spoons sat down across the street and said, “I do not have bowl to eat from nor soup to eat. I will surely starve.”
Lastly, the neighbor with the bowl sat down and wept, “I have been staring at my empty bowl all day and my stomach is growling. I will surely starve.”
As the three neighbors sat with their items, with their stomachs growling, a fourth friend arrived. This friend was known all around as someone who was wise and kind. Without a word, she started collecting sticks to build a fire. When the fire was hot, she exclaimed, “Dear neighbors, you will not starve! Come sit with me by this fire, and you will see that we will all have enough to eat.”
The three neighbors came and placed their items one by one before them. The neighbor with the soup pot set it down on the fire, and soon it was bubbling and steaming and smelling so good. The neighbor with the spoons began to stir the bubbling soup. When the soup was ready, the neighbor with the bowls set them down and they filled each one.
Then the neighbor gave one spoon to the neighbor with the pot of soup, one to the neighbor with the bowls, and kept one spoon for her/him self. The three neighbors were so excited! This soup smelled better than any meal they had ever imagined. Just as they prepared to bless their food and eat, the neighbor with the spoons said to the fourth neighbor, “Dear neighbor, come sit with us and eat.”
But the fourth neighbor said, “I do not have a pot of soup; I do not have any bowls; and I do not have any spoons. I do not have anything to contribute to this wonderful meal.” The friends disagreed and one said, “Oh, but you brought the greatest ingredient of all. You taught us the importance of sharing with our neighbors.”
Another friend said, “You brought us together around this fire. We have one more spoon, so you must join us to make the meal complete.”
The fourth neighbor joined the others and together, one and all, they shared a meal.
(If you did variation 1): Reflect on the unique ways the “casts” told the story. If they made interesting artistic choices, talk about them! Remind the group that sometimes people experience homelessness, hunger, inadequate clothing or shelter—sometimes because of disasters like floods or tornadoes, sometimes because their jobs do not pay enough or their crops are not growing, and sometimes because they have to leave their homes because of war or violence.
Objectives: Youth will explore, discuss and identify ways to respond to world disasters and crisis. Youth will identify places where they see the presence of God in the world and will envision how they can embody God’s love. Youth will articulate their hopes for the world through vision maps.
Supplies: News articles, push pins, display board, scissors, adhesive, recycling bin and markers. Alternatively, the youth may choose to use digital media technology, if available.
Instructions: Youth are encouraged to find two sets of articles/images from published sources (print or online). One set of articles should identify places in our society where there are “needs,” “hurting and suffering,” and/or evidence of the social challenges mentioned in Matthew 25:31-46. The second set of articles should identify ways “God is here,” “We are here with others,” and “God is present in those with whom we connect.”
Youth will then create a “You Are Here Vision Map” using the articles/images collected. These maps show how the youth would like to see the world transform. Push pins or Post-it Notes Strips may be used to label “locations” on the map. The youth may creatively design the map to illustrate their location as a youth group; the location of the church or society at-large. Encourage creative expression designing the map. Recycle.
If using digital resources, consider creating the vision maps on Google Maps or by using the hashtag #YouAreHere on Instagram, Twitter, or other social media. Ask the youth to tag @OGHS and their congregation and friends.
Find ways the youth can share their vision maps—print or digital—with the congregation.
Processing: How do the articles selected speak to the main scripture and One Great Hour of Sharing mission? What can be done as a faith community to affirm and/or re-position our ministries to respond to suffering, hurting and hardships in our society and world? Can the OGHS offering be an action step for the faith community? How can youth be visionaries and share in creating road-maps for justice, peace, and God’s love? Where can the OGHS offering be placed on the vision board?
YOUTH ACTIVITY 2: Scenes of Transformation
Supplies: Printed copies of the provided list of situations.
Instructions: Divide the group into teams of 4-6 people, ensuring that multiple generations are present in every team (dividing by birth month often works well).
Give time for introductions in the teams, with the prompt: when was a time you felt someone was really “there for you?”
Invite the teams to:
Have teams share with the whole group by naming the situation they chose then “staging” their human statue—first the conflict, then the transformation.
(Example: A group selects the situation—“a family loses their home in a natural disaster.” In the first tableau, several group members huddle together, crying, around some overturned chairs. In the transformation, two other group members come in to make a “tent” with their arms as a shelter over the family, and the family stops crying.)
Supplies: Colorful construction paper; recycle bin; décor (glitter, stickers, markers, etc.) of choice.
Instructions: Gather groups around tables, ensuring that each table has a variety of generations represented—you might do this by arranging people by birth month.
Invite groups to decorate paper with prayers and messages of peace and encouragement, then to fold the paper into origami cranes and hearts. In addition to (or instead of) origami, the group may choose to make prayer cards, write poetry and/or create other affirmations through art as expressions of solidarity.
While you work, talk about, or have someone read the theme scripture and have conversation about it at your tables. Also discuss the work of OGHS (use the OGHS Mission Report, visit the stories page, and other OGHS Resources). Consider how the offering helps you be present to people who are suffering.
Your creations can be given away in order to build and/or continue relationships of support, symbolizing unity, sharing, and community. Identify an appropriate organization or individual to receive your creations, and talk with them before doing this activity.
Background: Peace Cranes are highly popular and have been used by communities across the world to respond to natural disasters; crisis and suffering. In the United States, the Peace Cranes have circulated between cities impacted by gun violence. For example, Cranes from Newtown, CT created following the mass shooting in Sandy Hook were sent to Orlando, FL following the mass shooting in an LGBTQI Nightclub.
Make a tear drop/map pin out of colorful paper (instructions below)
Use it as a prop while reading the short script during announcements, in adult Bible study, Sunday school, or fellowship hour.
Have the instructions available with various paper sizes and colors so people can make their own tear drop/map pins as a tangible reminder of the offering
= hold the visual like a tear drop
= hold the visual like a map pin
= In West Timor, a father is crying because his child is hungry
=Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, You are Here for that
father with emergency food supplies and crop storage techniques.
= In West Virginia, a family is crying because their home was flooded…
=Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, You are Here with
that family with support to rebuild their home.
= In Greece, a young woman is crying because she is fleeing from war,
but borders are closed…
= Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, You are Here for her
with medical and hygienesupplies and advocacy for her future.
= In times of human suffering and need,
= You are Here for our neighbors through your gifts to the
One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Remind the congregation the date the offering will be received. Tell them they can give during the regular offering by using the special envelopes, or they can write the name of the offering in the memo line of their check. Coin boxes should also be collected on the designated offering day.
How to make a teardrop/map pin:
Fold a sheet of paper in half. Cut on an angle from the folder corner to the top, making the sides thin with a rounded top. Color and use as the prop. You may want to color one side in an exciting color, with the other side a single color.
Have fun with it. If you would like to share how this goes in your setting, take pictures and email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Communion is included, but optional)
In the midst of suffering, where is God? God is here. Where are you?
When you give to OGHS, you are here.
Scriptures: Matthew 25:31–46, Psalm 145:18, 1 John 3:11–24
We worship a God who gives generously and abundantly. God gives to all creatures their food in due season, and from God’s open hand the desire of every living thing is satisfied.
God has given us so many blessings. The food we eat, the friends and family we cherish, the precious gift of God’s love for us, a love that led Jesus to lay down his life for us.
When that love abides in us, we cannot refuse to help our brothers and sisters in need. Through our regular offerings we... [celebrate the work of your congregation, locally]. Through the special offering for One Great Hour of Sharing, we join with other Christians to make our presence known to people who might feel forgotten—the hungry, the hurting, the thirsty, the sick. Our gifts, together, provide food, shelter, comfort, and safety all over the world.
Gracious God, in our offering we return to you a portion of the blessings you have showered upon us. Bless these gifts, that they might bring comfort, food and shelter to those who need it. Bless those who will receive them. Let them know your love through full bellies, warm clothing, and safe places to sleep. Amen.
Charge & Benediction
We worship God in sanctuaries, in beautiful, holy spaces. But Christ has told us that if we want to find him in this world, we will seek out the lost, the least of his brothers and sisters—those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, in prison, naked and estranged. May we go forth this day with eyes open to seeing Christ in our world, and may we know God’s love by loving one another. May we love, not just in word and speech, but in truth and action.
One Great Hour of Sharing® is the Lenten Offering of the United Church of Christ that supports disaster, refugee, and development activities. The suggested offering date for the One Great Hour of Sharing offering is March 31, 2019. Click donate to give securely online or mail your gift today to: One Great Hour of Sharing - United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Financial Services, 2nd Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.
2019 OGHS Resources
Additional interpretive resources are available at United Church of Christ Resources. To order, call toll free 1-800-325-7061, order on-line at www.uccresources.com or email your orders to email@example.com
Available resources include:
Bulletin Inserts (Free)
Coin Boxes ($.10 per box)
Offering Envelopes (Free)
Posters - English or Spanish (Free)
Make your gift through your local United Church of Christ congregation. Gifts go through your Conference for record keeping, and then arrive at the United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Financial Services, 6th Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44115. Gifts may also be made by clicking here to donate. Please give generously! Thank you.
Sign-up for OGHS Updates to receive short stories on how your gifts to the offering change lives.
2018 OGHS Resources
2017 OGHS Offering Resources
2016 OGHS Offering Resources
2015 Offering Resources
The Planning and Resource Guide and 2014 Annual Mission Report are available in electronic or print versions:
To find other stories that help share the message of how One Great Hour of Sharing transforms life, visit: www.ucc.org/stories
Other available resources:
Thank you for your generous support!