It’s time to share

It’s time to share

A theme reflection and scriptural exegesis written by Rev. Barbara Essex for the 2023 One Great Hour of Sharing

“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all.” ~Galatians 6:9-10, The Message

“Give a person a fish and you feed them for one day. Teach a person to fish and you feed them forever.”* The meaning of this phrase seems clear—take care of a need now or empower others to do for themselves. 

While the Apostle Paul does not talk about fishing or hunger or food insecurity in his letter to the Galatians, he does talk about how Christians are to live: generously helping and caring for others.  

In Paul’s day, more than half of the population lived at or below subsistence level, barely able to make ends meet. Many died prematurely due to malnutrition and ailments that resulted from lack of healthy and plentiful food. Most people—adults and children—experienced food insecurity.

Those who had money and power contributed to building roads and water systems, and hosted lavish banquets for their colleagues. Their public displays of generosity were often self-serving, though: the bigger and more public their acts of giving, the more they were esteemed in the eyes of those they wanted to impress. Acts of charity, on any scale to make a difference for those in need, were few and far between. Government safety nets were non-existent.

Paul understands that God raises the bar on community life—the care of the poor and vulnerable; the use of resources to benefit those who really need help; loving one’s neighbor; caring for the environment; and advocating social justice so all can live and thrive. For Paul, communities grounded in Jesus’ sacrificial life and death are to practice radical hospitality and generosity: making a place for all and using financial resources to help those who really need help. Community life means meeting immediate needs (giving fish) and working for long-term progress (teaching to fish). Food security requires both.

Paul also understands that radical hospitality and generosity are tiring. The needs of people keep growing. The call to help and to share is insistent, urgent, unending, exhausting. Paul reminds the Galatians that their communities are different; they are shaped and sustained by God’s Spirit. Their loving acts are responses to God’s own loving acts towards each of them. God keeps on giving, and so should they.

Paul compares sacrificial, communal love to harvesting. So much is needed for a bountiful harvest, and anything can disrupt its outcome. Embedded in harvesting is fatigue, uncertainty, and anxiety—yet, the planting, pruning, and tending are done as one waits, in hope, for the outcome. 

Paul encourages the Galatians, and us, to look at the bigger picture. Guided and strengthened by God’s Spirit, we are called to work, plant, grow, and produce until the final harvest day—the harvest that marks the fulfillment of God’s Reign, already started and yet to be completed in God’s own time.

Perhaps we grow weary because we do not know if our efforts truly make a difference. Will our dollars improve the devastating effects of climate change? Will our contributions feed every hungry person in the world? Do our ministries adequately address the spiritual needs of our community? How can we know if our gifts are worth it?

The One Great Hour of Sharing of the Church of the Brethren answers these questions. Whether a person has hunger in their body or soul, the work we do together as the body of Christ can make a difference. Your gifts help the Global Food Initiative and Brethren Disaster Ministries to respond to immediate and long-term hunger issues, no matter the cause, both locally and globally. With the help of your partnership, Discipleship Ministries and Global Mission offer hope in places near and far.

We cannot physically be everywhere or see all the results with our own eyes, but through your generous offerings and special gifts, you help promote the loving community that Paul advocates. Through One Great Hour of Sharing YOU are reaching into the world; working in partnership with people we will never meet, yet with whom we are connected. Your contributions are transforming lives for generations to come and are part of the harvest into which Paul invites us. Your gifts bring the reign/kindom of God closer to us all.

We can make a difference. We do make a difference. Your generosity makes all the difference in the world.

There is power in doing good and changing the lives of others. We cannot grow weary or quit—lives are at stake. God’s Spirit energizes and re-energizes us when we get tired. God helps us to help others.

The need has never been greater. Let us continue this good work. Let us stay energized. Let us give generously. The opportunity is now. It’s time to share.

Find this and other worship resources for the 2023 One Great Hour of Sharing (suggested date: March 19) at or give an offering today at

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* A version of this phrase appeared 138 years ago in Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie’s novel, Mrs. Dymond, believed to be the first instance of its use.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

One Great Hour of Sharing 2023

Worship resources for the 2023 One Great Hour of Sharing of the Church of the Brethren

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.)

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

Let love flow

Photo by Craig Thompson

A theme interpretation written by Rev. Erin Wathen for the 2021 One Great Hour of Sharing

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that many western world constructs that were intended to create a sense of safety actually promoted a false sense of security. In a global crisis, we were faced with a danger that defied our usual protective hedges. While some were made more vulnerable by economic and geographical factors, everyone was affected by the virus.

As it turns out, lines on a map don’t stop the spread of disease; a pandemic does not recognize human-made boundaries. Whether we like it or not, our lives are deeply intertwined. Our well-being is bound, inextricably, to that of neighbors close to home, and those halfway around the world.

The sooner we recognize that human interconnectedness, the better we can let love flow—generously and indiscriminately—to those who need it most.

When water comes to a village, everything changes. Improved sanitation promotes health. Crops thrive, providing food security and better nutrition. People can provide for their families and care for their communities today while also planning for the future. In the same way, when our love flows, brothers and sisters around the world are sustained through difficult circumstances and their lives are transformed.

Isaiah 49:8-12 articulates a stunning vision for a world of justice and equity; a world where everyone has enough, and all live in safety and abundance. It is also a vision for a healthy world of interconnectedness. In this vision, what is good for you is also good for your neighbor; what is good for one country is good for the whole world; and what harms any one of us harms us all.

That Kingdom-oriented vision in our shared ministry through One Great Hour of Sharing is much like the stream that runs through Isaiah’s Kingdom vision. Human-made constructs too often hinder human thriving.  A world built on that sort of imbalance is counter to God’s dream for creation. To help bring about that more just and abundant vision for humanity, One Great Hour of Sharing supports ministries around the world that create opportunities and empower communities. This includes:  farmers participating in educational opportunities and working to establish food security; volunteers preparing for a year of Christ-like service; Brethren pastors, leaders, and members sharing in meaningful conversations and events; and individuals encouraging people and rebuilding homes affected by disaster.

In many ways, our world was not prepared for the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. But because of your past generosity through One Great Hour of Sharing, many communities were better prepared to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19. Through your past support, more people were equipped for the crisis and were empowered to prevent the spread of disease among their family and neighbors.

And when you continue to give generously, you continue to give life to people in need around the world. You continue to build on the dream of a world in which there is no thirst, no hunger, no suffering… just the abundance of life. 

When you share what God has provided, you “let love flow.” The love that we give—and the love that we receive from those who partner in ministry with us—crosses all sorts of spaces and dividing lines, knitting together a better human family, and bringing the Kingdom of God to earth in our time.

When you give to One Great Hour of Sharing, you support people near and far in tangible and spiritual ways. When you “let love flow,” lives are transformed—for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.

The suggested date for this years One Great Hour of Sharing is March 21. Find worship resources or learn more at

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

One Great Hour of Sharing 2021

Worship resources for the 2021 One Great Hour of Sharing of the Church of the Brethren

More than we can imagine

A theme interpretation written by Chuck Blaisdell for the 2019 One Great Hour of Sharing

“Now to God be the glory, who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).


It may seem like a weak word compared to all the need we see every day in the world. We hear “imagination” and we may think “fantasy” (“Imagine you are on a beach…”), of something that escapes the reality of the world as it is. We hear “imagination” and we wonder if it is truly helpful when some would say we actually need clear-eyed “realism” to address the challenges that we face.


Yet far from being a light or weak thing, far from being an aloof or escapist notion, far from being un-real, imagination is actually among the most powerful engines for change that human beings have! Long ago, the philosopher Aristotle said, “Thinking itself begins in wonder, begins in imagination,” and he was right. Imagination, particularly when fueled by a vision of God’s hopes for all humankind, can keep us energized, seeking to do good, and striving to better the lives of those whom we encounter.


The theme for the 2019 One Great Hour of Sharing is “More than we can imagine!” It is rooted in Ephesians 3:20 and reminds us that we are not alone in our imagining a better world for all of God’s children. Indeed, it is God’s imagination that fuels and empowers ours! You see, God imagines a world where:

  • No one is left to face the wreckage of natural disasters alone.
  • Each person has their daily needs of food and water met.
  • Every individual receives the respect and dignity that they deserve.
  • Families displaced from their homes are able to build new lives.
  • Disciples of all ages grow in faith and share the love of God with others.
  • Pastors and leaders are equipped to care for the needs of their communities.
  • Churches serve as beacons of hope for all to see.
  • AND far more than we could ever ask or imagine!

God also imagines Christians all over the world coming together to help make these things ever more a reality for more and more people.

Our imagination of what could be is founded and grounded in that for which God envisions and hopes. And we can help! Through our gifts of treasure and talent, prayer and presence, we can make this world ever more like the way God would wish it, ever more the way that God would imagine it.

Find this and other worship resources for the 2019 One Great Hour of Sharing at or give to the offering today at .

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

More than we can imagine

By Craig Thompson

By the Rev. Thea Leticia Racelis

“Now to God be the glory, 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).

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we look at all the areas of need in the world. There is hunger, sickness, decay, and injustice in so many communities. It is easy to feel that we are too small and too insignificant to make a difference and believe that nothing we do can help.

But there is hope! Better yet: we are that hope! As the Apostle Paul writes, “by the power at work within us,” God is able to “accomplish abundantly more than we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it succinctly when he wrote, “We are the agents of transformation that God uses to transfigure the world.” We know that we are part of God’s answer to the need in the world! As followers of Jesus, we know that God’s dream for all people is not that we would strive to be separate, caring only for ourselves, but that in community, we would practice love and compassion. When we share our resources, there is enough for us all! We share our resources because, as Brian Peterson writes: “we are not simply filled ‘with’ God’s fullness as something to make us feel satisfied and content, but we are filled for the goal of God’s fullness in and for the world.”

We are all connected, and we derive our identity from God “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14b). We are all part of the family of God whether we live in an agricultural community in Nicaragua or in a bustling city in the United States.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds us that we do not act alone. We act as the church, a gathering of God’s people, still living into Paul’s prayer and being “rooted and established in love” (Ephesians 3:17b). John Stott shares, “Paul likens [the Christians of Ephesus] first to a well-rooted tree, and then to a well-built house. In both cases, the unseen cause of their stability will be the same: love. Love is to be the soil in which their life is to be rooted; love is to be the foundation on which their life is built.”

As Christians, living into this loving legacy, we act out of faith knowing that God is using our contributions in ways that we can’t foresee and multiplying blessings in ways we would never expect. We act knowing that we are part of God’s imagination.

Will you be part of God’s dream for the world? Will you accept the invitation to make a difference and see what God will do with our giving?

We pray that you and your congregation will be inspired to give to One Great Hour of Sharing with hopeful expectation of what God will do. It will surely be more than we could imagine.

This theme interpretation was written for the 2018 One Great Hour of Sharing. Find this and other worship resources for the offering at Give today at .

You are here

One Great Hour of Sharing  Photo by Jeffrey Abyei

One Great Hour of Sharing
Photo by Jeffrey Abyei

By Laura Jean Torgerson

“Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me”(Matthew 25:40).

Paul reminds us that as members of the church, we are so closely connected that we may consider ourselves as parts of one body. The New Testament constantly refers to followers of Jesus, not as Christians, but as a family— brothers and sisters.

Many churches live this out when someone is ill, mourning, or facing difficulty. We show up. We are present with loved ones who are in need. We show love in tangible ways with casseroles and cards, and with hugs and spoken words of prayer. These acts let our brothers and sisters in Christ know that we are present with them. They know they are not alone because we are beside them.

Maybe you have been through diagnosis and treatment, or unimaginable sorrow, and your church—your family—has been there to let you know that you are not forgotten in times of trouble. When someone is with you through difficult times, all their truest words and most loving actions simply declare, “I am here.”

The Bible tells us that God is like us in this way. When one of God’s beloved children suffers, God declares, “I am here.” God hears the cries of the poor and oppressed (Exodus 3:9, Psalm 10:17, 69:33), is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), and is near to all who call out to God (Psalm 145:18). The promise that God will be with us is a constant refrain from Genesis to Revelation.

When we see the latest tragedy on the news, we might ask, “Where are you, God?” But we already know the answer—God is present in the midst of those who are hurting.

When Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-40), he reveals a mystery to us. God is most tangibly present in the world where people hunger, thirst, lack adequate clothing or shelter, and are sick or imprisoned. Christ claims as family members people who suffer and says Christ is so present in them that when you feed the hungry, care for the sick, welcome the stranger—you feed, care for, and welcome Christ.

Not just your fellow Christians, but anyone in need, anywhere in the world—these are your sisters, your brothers, your children. Their needs might seem different than the person you worship with on Sunday, but your tangible gifts declare the same message: “I am here.” By reaching out to those who suffer from natural disasters, war, or systemic poverty, you let them know that they are not forgotten. Even when the need seems far away, by acting together as the body of Christ, we are able to be present for these members of Christ’s family.

You show love with gifts of food. You are present by providing seeds and training for sustainable agriculture. Through medical kits, school supplies, temporary shelters, and safe housing, you show up.

In the midst of suffering, where is God? God is here. Where are you? When you give to One Great Hour of Sharing, you are here.

This theme interpretation was written for the 2017 One Great Hour of Sharing. Find this and other worship resources for the offering at or give today at .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Walking Together

One Great Hour of Sharing 2016

One Great Hour of Sharing 2016

Adapted from a sermon starter by José Francisco Morales Torres, director of Pastoral Formation at Disciples Seminary Foundation

“Where you go I will go; and where you stay I will stay” (Ruth 1:16, NIV).

The story of Ruth is a beautiful narrative about resilience and accompaniment. Rendered vulnerable by the deaths of their husbands and the natural disaster of famine, Ruth and Naomi clung to one another for comfort and strength.

As we read the book of Ruth, we see both a human story and a God story, the former “incarnating” the latter. As a human story, we read about the spirituality of solidarity. In the divine realm, we read of God’s redemption, which is mirrored in human action.

Redemption is a sign of God being with us. The divine act of redemption can be seen in the sacrificial commitment Ruth makes to Naomi to go where she goes and stay where she stays. Through Ruth, God is revealed in the very act of accompanying the most vulnerable in society—both then and now. This commitment to walk together is good news for a globalizing world that so often separates people groups into “them” and “us.”

As God walks with those who are vulnerable, we see God as we walk together with them as well. Consequently, we, like the outcast, come face-to-face with our own need and vulnerability; we need them to see God in our midst. Walking with those in need is an opportunity for us to reignite our faith and reframe our humanity in our encounter with the faith and humanity of another. We are able to recognize the transforming power of solidarity, not just for “them” but for “us.” Through the eyes of accompaniment, there is only a united “us!”

One Great Hour of Sharing is a special opportunity for you and your congregation to walk with those in need through the work of the Church of the Brethren. When you give to this special offering, you support Core Ministries like Brethren Volunteer Service, Congregational Life Ministries, Global Mission and Service, the Office of Ministry, and the Office of Public Witness. You also support the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Food Crisis Fund. With your help, we accompany those in need across the country and around the world. As we walk together, we recognize God among us and receive strength for the journey ahead.

The suggested date for One Great Hour of Sharing is March 20. Learn more and find worship resources for the offering at or give today at .

(Read this issue of eBrethren)