"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
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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
Here are some recent international grants approved by UCC Disaster Ministries:Read more
A pilot program to help communities launch long-term recovery following disasters is growing ecumenically. Over the past two years, the disaster ministries of the United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Church of the Brethren have joined forces to pioneer the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) in nine states and U.S. territories. Now DRSI is folding into the disaster programs of Church World Service (CWS).Read more
Send joyful Christmas greetings and provide your friends and family a practical tool to get prepared for natural disasters at the same time. Disaster Preparedness Christmas Cards from United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries include a complete up-to-date list of what should be included in an individual ‘Go-Bag’ – a bag that is prepared to grab and ‘go’ when a disaster strikes. A faithful reminder to start the year off prepared!Read more
UCC Disaster Ministries just contributed $10,000 toward an ecumenical response through CWS Japan to assist 1,000 families with home and livelihood restoration, volunteer mobilization to clear debris, and capturing of lessons learned for reducing risk in the disasters that are sure to follow as climate change brings more unprecedented destructive weather.Read more
UCC Disaster Ministries has contributed $15,000 to support care for 25 orphaned, abused, neglected or abandoned children evacuated from Grand Bahama after Hurricane Dorian destroyed the Children’s Home there.Read more
There's a lot you can do right now!Read more
It's a gift that keeps on giving! UCC Disaster Ministries' initial investment of $200,000 has built earthquake-resistant homes for 53 vulnerable families who survived the devastating 2015 earthquakes in Nepal. The families are paying back interest-free loans into a revolving fund, already used to build 20 more homes. Now the UCC has just sent an additional $40,000 for yet more homes!Read more