Love remains

A theme interpretation for the 2022 One Great Hour of Sharing by Rev. Barbara Essex

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV

The Apostle Paul helped newly converted Christians at Corinth embrace the virtue of love. Love is an active decision—to think of others before one’s self; to work on behalf of others; to care for others with acts of kindness and advocacy. Christian community is less about “me” and more about “us.” Paul defines “us” broadly—it is not limited to one’s household or home church or immediate neighborhood. The church crosses boundaries, creating realities where differences in ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, culture, and social location can be acknowledged and celebrated.

Paul taught that Jesus formed a group of diverse persons into a new kind of community—a community whose very fabric of communal life is woven with threads of love and service. For Paul, persons are called to think, live, and behave differently. The challenges at the Corinthian church are testimonies to the truth that living and loving in community can be difficult and messy at times. Living in love and living by love does not mean there are no tensions, disagreements, or conflicts—in human relationships, these are natural and expected. Paul reminds the Corinthians that love holds them together, no matter what. They are no longer mere individuals; rather, they are part of the body of Christ. They are connected in ways that defy individualism and selfishness. In the Judeo-Christian traditions, connection and unity are esteemed. A commitment to community does not erase differences—they are valued and embraced. It’s all about love.

What does love look like in community? International partners of the Global Food Initiative participating in educational opportunities and working together to establish food security. Brethren Volunteer Service volunteers serving with a new community for a year. Brethren pastors, leaders, and members sharing in meaningful conversations and reflection. Individuals joining in the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries to encourage people and rebuild homes affected by disaster.

The love that the Apostle Paul taught the Corinthians recognizes the connection between and among people, across geography, nationality, and ethnicity. Through your support, the Church of the Brethren cares for communities near and far away, embodying acts of service from a place of love that spans generations. Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing resurrect dreams and (re)construct spaces for new dreams to happen. When you give, you show that love is more than just a word; your generosity is the embodiment of our connection to sisters and brothers that extends across space and time.

Love is generous and compassionate. Love is action. Love goes the extra mile. Love responds to need. Love makes a difference. Love joins hands. Love works together. Love hikes up and down hills. Love is resilient. Love is big and small. And above all else, love remains.

Find this and other worship resources for the Church of the Brethren’s One Great Hour of Sharing (suggested date: March 20) at or give an offering today at

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Filling our jars

Read a reflection from John chapter 2 in this week's issue of eBrethren.

By Matt DeBall, Coordinator of Mission Advancement Communications
“Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.” ~ John 2:7

Some celebrations are remembered for years to come. Perhaps you fondly remember a birthday party, an anniversary celebration, or a wedding that had a great atmosphere and was a wonderful time with friends and family.

The wedding at Cana in Galilee must have been amazing—because we’re still talking about it after two millennia. Though there was a hiccup when the wine ran out, Jesus, with the encouragement of this attentive mother, helped avoid a crisis. In the Gospel of John, the event marks the first miracle of Jesus, a sign of God’s reign through his ministry, and, surely, a blessed celebration for all those who attended.

In addition to the miracle of turning water into wine, what is interesting is who Jesus invited to be the heroes and heroines of the day:  those who were serving at the wedding. Throughout his ministry, Jesus regularly elevated the lowly, and his first miracle was no exception. By faith, the waitstaff in Cana filled six large washing jars with water (no less than 120 gallons or 1,000 pounds of water, if we do the math) and waited with expectation of what Jesus would do.

Even today, Jesus continues to call people of humble positions to take action by faith and see how God will work. As the body of Christ, we are invited to imagine and reimagine the jars Jesus is calling us to attend to—old forms to fill with new faith for a fruitful future. We likely won’t see water turned into wine, but surely the Lord will bless us and others when we take action for his purposes.

In these first couple months of the year, the staff and volunteers of the Church of the Brethren are revisiting the jars of ministry in their care and trusting that the Lord will make great things happen. Volunteers are being trained to serve like Jesus in a new (to them) neighborhood. Event coordinators and conversation hosts are preparing for meaningful occasions of education, fellowship, refreshment, and worship. We are also grateful for you, as a supporter of and partner in these and many other endeavors, and the ways you are planning to pray, give, and serve as we move forward in faith together.

As the work of Jesus continues among us in 2022, may it be a blessed time of celebration that we remember for many years to come.

Learn more about the ministries of the Church of the Brethren at or support its work today at

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

One Great Hour of Sharing 2022

2022 One Great Hour of Sharing banner photo - Dayton, OH home rebuild

Worship resources for the 2022 One Great Hour of Sharing of the Church of the Brethren