Sunday, December 3rd marks the beginning of Advent, a special season for the Christian community to eagerly anticipate the commemoration of the birth of Christ. It is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the hope that He brought to others as a baby on this earth. It also reminds us that one glorious day He will return. Meanwhile, the church is tasked with joy and responsibility of working to restore God’s kingdom on earth.

One of the ways that we can work toward this is by modeling the value of all people and fostering belonging of those who experience disability around the world. December 3, 2017 is also significant because it is United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. To commemorate this momentous day, we encourage churches everywhere to host worship services in celebration of members of Christ’s body who have diverse gifts and abilities from God.  We invite you to utilize Christian Horizons’ “Everybody Belongs” service planning guide and materials or design a service of your own. You may wish to have it on December 3 or another day of your choice.

In accordance with the liturgical calendar, for the first Sunday in Advent this year, many churches will read Isaiah 40:1 – 11. This Scripture begins with comfort and encourages oppressed people to cry out against injustice. It begs the question: what injustices are you crying out against, and what holy comfort do you need this season? Some of the injustices that I cry out against include structural, attitudinal and theological barriers related to my wheelchair.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain. — Is 40:3-4

Isaiah 40:1 – 11 resonates with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the Everybody Belongs theme. Isaiah presents a vision of the glory of the Lord being revealed when there are no barriers; the valleys have been lifted, the mountains have been made low and the planes are smooth; I could go anywhere and do anything regardless of my wheelchair. In this vision, people with and without “disabilities” are together and each of us can proclaim the good news boldly because we are all protected and cared for by the Good Shepherd.