A Kentucky pastor, a long-time champion and supporter of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, sees it becoming even more important in this time of COVID-19.Read more
"You are God's field; God's building."
Through the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering, we are planting seeds of new life.
Together, we are investing in communities worldwide: providing education to girls and boys, empowering communities through vocational
training, supporting microcredit lending and seeing people through to self-sufficiency, empowering families with skills to support themselves and their neighbors, and participating in sustainable solutions that offer dignity to all.
These are just a few ways the OGHS offering touches God’s children, in addition to disaster relief and refugee initiatives.
Through your generosity, the world is a better place. But more is needed. Today, you have an opportunity to plant seeds into the lives of others. Be a co-worker with God. Building, planting, watering…and trusting that God gives growth to all good gifts shared in faith. Thank you for your partnership. Thank you for your generosity
Invest in Futures
In Thailand, a 13-year-old girl arrives at the New Life Center, seeking relief
from the cruel conditions that have brought her here. Her life up to this
point has been mostly about survival. Here, she meets others like her. Some
are survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence or human trafficking. Some
have been forced to work when they wanted to go to school.
What will the future be like when she is empowered to share her gifts with
her community and the world?
At the New Life Center, she is met with the investment of time, support,
and resources. And she is loved. She is allowed to imagine a new future.
Finishing school. Learning a trade. Even going to University to earn a degree.
In I Corinthians 3:9 Paul writes that we are all co-workers together in God’s
service. Some of us plant. Some of us water. But God gives the growth. Paul
reminds us that we are all called into the service of God, who cares for each
and every one of us. What could the future be like when we work to plant
and water together, and trust God to give the growth?
When you give to One Great Hour of Sharing, you invest in the futures of
these girls and countless others like them. Your gifts go to provide education,
vocational training, basic necessities, and much-needed community support.
When we share the love of Christ in this way, we see lives transformed. Not just
their lives, but ours as well. Because when we empower girls to build a life for
themselves, we help God build a better world for us all.
As we invest in futures and serve as co-workers with God, the future
becomes one of endless possibility and opportunity. What a great return on
To order additional bulletin inserts, order at www.uccresources.com
In the church, we often talk about the virtues of “servant leadership.” At its best, that term encourages church leaders to model their ministry after Jesus, who stooped to wash the feet of his disciples, who served them at the table, and who prayed for them faithfully even in his final hours.
God invites each of us to lead by serving, to share freely of our gifts so that God may work through us. Indeed, the word translated as “servant” in 1 Cor. 3:5 in the NIV is diakonos, the root of the term “deacon.”
Paul uses the term to describe someone whose work may be of benefit to others. Specifically in this context, he describes someone whose efforts God may use as a channel for good and growth. In choosing to humbly give their gifts, “servant-leaders” become channels of God’s healing love, so that all may enjoy the powerful experience of shared value, worth, and investment.
When we work and share our gifts together, none of us has to be Paul or Apollos, or any famous spiritual leader, in order to be faithful to the responsibilities we have been given. None of us is expected to solve all the problems of the world alone, or even as individual churches. Rather, we are called to use the time, talent, and resources we have been given for the opportunities before us. In so doing, we have the joyful opportunity to participate in the growth God is already providing in the world.
One Great Hour of Sharing works through a global network of partners, so that none of us has to do this work alone. Strong relationships are at the heart of this shared ministry, recognizing that true servant leadership empowers each person and community to use the gifts they’ve been given.
The Greek word translated as “co-workers” in 1 Cor. 3:9 in the NIV is synergoi. It shares a root with the English word synergy, meaning the interaction of two contributions—which, when combined, produce a greater effect than the simple sum of those contributions.
When we give to One Great Hour of Sharing, our gifts join with others and the effects multiply exponentially as God gives growth.
The growth of any garden depends on the soil in which it grows. Different plants give and take different nutrients from the soil. Good gardeners are careful to balance plant varieties so that everything growing in the garden will have what it needs to thrive and bear fruit. If the balance of the soil nutrients is thrown off, all the plants in the garden may suffer. Keeping that balance does not mean treating all plants the same. Rather, it means giving each plant what it needs. As co-workers in God’s garden, when we share in the work of One Great Hour of Sharing, we make an investment in the future and receive abundant blessings in return.
Unlike with the stock market or a retirement account, we do not invest in God’s growth to receive a benefit for ourselves. Rather, we give, receive, plant, and water in the service of the future for which God yearns.
A little-known band called Yurtfolk set to music the words of the Brazilian theologian Rubem Alves’ quote: “We must live for the love of what we may never see.” The song tells the story of an old man who plants a date tree in whose shade he will never sit, and whose fruit he will never eat. Why would he do that? Simply—for the love of what he may never see.
In this letter from Paul, the Jesus-followers in Corinth are encouraged to give and plant without undue attachment or ownership to the end result. It matters little who takes credit for the good fruits borne by the faith community in Corinth—Paul or Apollos. What matters is that they bear the fruit God has called them to bear.
Church leaders may want to reflect on how our churches learn to live for the love of what we may never see.
How might we invest in futures, trusting that even if we may never see it, God indeed will give abundant
Call to Worship
One: Gardeners plant, not fully knowing if their gardens will grow. Yet, they kneel in the dirt, dig with their hands, and bury one seed at a time.
Many: They plant and trust that a harvest will come.
One: God’s word tells us that we are to be co-workers in service to others.
Yet many times, we don’t see how our meager support can help.
Many: We plant and trust that a harvest will come.
One: One plants. Another waters. But God gives the growth. We join
together as co-workers in God’s service to release the healing waters of God’s love throughout our world.
Many: We rejoice, trusting in God’s goodness, and trusting in God’s word.
God of Growth and Abundance,
Prepare the soil of our hearts to receive your life-bearing call that we would invest our gifts with confidence and joy in the fruitful future you bring forth. We pray in the name of the One who makes all things new. Amen.
When violence reigns, disaster strikes, or resources are scarce, a future with hope can seem far away. In those times, our communities can act as sources of important support, embodying the love of the Holy Source of all hope and healing.
Paul writes we are all co-workers in God’s service. We each have gifts to offer that may serve as channels of love and strength to all of us who find ourselves in need of support. We can trust that whatever we offer, God will use to bring
a future with hope.
Through the ministries of this church and through the ministries supported by One Great Hour of Sharing, we have the opportunity to be part of the hopeful future God is already bringing forth. Imagine what the future could be like when we join hands together across distance, cultures, and generations to invest in the growth God promises to bring.
Let us invest our gifts in the future that we can build as co-workers in the kingdom of God. Let us give generously today, believing in the future growth God brings when we work, plant, and build together.
Prayer of Dedication
Bless the investments we commit to your work this day that our efforts would serve the future thriving of the world you so love. Amen.
Holy God, who brings sweet growth, teach us to live for the love of what we do not yet see.
Though we may sometimes feel buried deep, we can trust that your love, your hope, and your healing are always making ready to burst forth. Cultivate in us a belief in what the future could be when each one of us is empowered to fully live into the life your envision for us.
O God, who brings sweet growth, teach us to live for the love of what we do not yet see.
Your life-bringing design is visible in the beauty of creation, in the dawning of each day and in the turning of the seasons. Awaken in us a hope that when we plant, when w
e water, and when we invest in the future you are bringing, we are part of the joyful work of releasing the waters of new life.
O God, who brings sweet growth, teach us to live for the love of what we do not yet see. Amen.
One: Dear co-workers in God’s service, we are called to the feast prepared by Christ.
Many: We come tired yet hopeful. We come with laughter and tears.
We come broken and blessed. We come to taste God’s promise of a world made whole.
One: At this table, may we find rest. At this table, may we find hope. At this table, may we be moved to plant new seeds, to nourish fresh sprouts, and to join in bringing forth all the future fruit God is growing even now.
Many: To this table, we bring our dreams, our prayers, and our gifts with hopeful trust in God’s holy healing power and love.
Words of Institution
On the night that he knew would be his last with them,
Jesus gathered his disciples for a feast.
They had walked many miles together.
They had known trials. They had seen wonders.
They would soon need to trust that God is in the business
of bringing hopeful futures from even the most painful endings.
So after dinner was over, Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it,
and shared it with them, saying take, eat, do this in remembrance
Then he also took the cup, blessed it,
saying, “take, drink, do this in remembrance of me.”
Every time we do this, beloved co-workers in Christ, we too remember
that God is in the business of bringing hopeful futures even when we
have no idea of what is to come.
We eat and drink today to be filled to the brim with that good news.
We eat and drink this day to become holy channels
of Christ’s hope and healing for ourselves and for our world.
Prayer for Bread and Cup
God of the table,
You feed the wild birds of the air with fruit-filled
Branches and we flock to your table todayLonging to taste the hope and healing that you promise.
Nourish us with the bread
That sustains our souls and gives us hope.
Wash over us, reviving our roots in you.
Bless these elements we share
That the future you long for might
Burst into bloom in our hearts and in the world.
We give thanks for the gifts of bread and cup
Flowing with your promise of a future full of hope.
Carry us forth with courage to live for the love of all that
we do not yet see.
With trust in your eternal stream of new life we pray.
Go forth bearing the good news that God promises a future full of hope.
Go forth with expectant eyes, watching for the fruit God will bring.
Go in boldness, proclaiming God’s promises to the world.
Hymn suggestions: New Earth, Heavens New; Seed Scattered and Sown; Beyond Dying Sun, For the Healing of the Nations, For Everyone Born, Welcome, Fresh as the Morning (God of the Bible), In the Bulb There
is a Flower, Now the Green Blade Rises, Pelas Dores Deste Mundo, O
Senor/ENGLISH, Si Tu Vieras Fe/If You Only had Faith11
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
Join the Conversation on Face - Facebook OGHS
Name strengths of your own local community
Click on image for printable resource.
We sometimes think that “imagination” means something escapist or illusory. Yet, imagination is not something unreal or fake. No, it is essential to God’s hope for creation. Hear how the Apostle Paul put it: “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine….” (Ephesians 3:20-21). And God imagines a world where all are safe,all are loved, all are fed.
You see, when we use our imaginations in the way that God does, we can begin to envision – and work for! – a world where no child goes unfed, un-housed, or unloved; where no one ever fears abuse or violence; where clean water is not a dream but a reality for all; where small farmers do their work with dignity and are paid a fair wage for their labors; where agricultural practices enrich and renew the land rather than deplete it; where survivors of natural disasters have the resources they need, now and for years to come; where vulnerable immigrants are welcomed in Christ’s name.
Can YOU imagine these things? Through your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing what we can imagine becomes ever more a reality for more and more people. Please give generously! “More Than You Can Imagine...”
More than we can imagine
Hurricane Maria caused unimaginable damage in Puerto Rico. Who would believe that so much infrastructure, electricity and housing were destroyed? People’s lives and families were disrupted.
For Edda, a woman who lives in a house once belonging to her parents, the thought of losing her childhood home to the storm was unimaginable. Hurricane Maria left the roof of her house in such bad shape that water was leaking through her home every time it rained. To make matters worse, Edda’s husband had recently undergone knee surgery. She had to put towels and buckets around the inside of the house so he didn’t slip or fall on the wet floors.
Edda couldn’t fix her roof by herself and because of the surgery, her husband couldn’t either. They could not imagine how the repairs on their home would happen. They could not imagine that strangers would come and help them with a good roof that could weather the next storm.
Thanks to the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico (IEUPR), and help from four amazing volunteers, their roof was fixed in four days. Edda was grateful for the help because it wasn’t possible for her to do it alone.
Lydia Rosaly, with IEUPR shared Edda’s story, and like Edda, Lydia is thankful for our support, and walking with them towards a holistic long-term recovery.
Your support provides more than we can imagine. Thank you!
One Great Hour of Sharing, United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44115
216-736-3215 | Email: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.