It might sound cliché, but I was hired to help others and they helped me just as much, perhaps even more. I learned about acceptance, trust, diversity, and what it meant to have a place to belong. Looking back, I realize God was beginning to teach me about 1 Corinthians 12 and what it means to be whole.
It is a long and slow process for me, a well-educated and nondisabled white male, to appreciate and to pay attention to the ways that God is working on the margins. But whether it is in pausing my frantic productivity to gaze for a moment at crisp pin-points of light in the night sky or in turning my attention to a neighbour who does not use words to communicate, I am “Learning how to say ‘Hallelujah’ from the ones who say it right.”
God’s order is not our own, and the upside-down Kingdom is often led by those whom we might prefer to ignore or condemn. “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” the Pharisees demand. I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Pay close enough attention, he instructs, and if we’re quiet we will hear even the voice of these silent rocks.
So much of what we do on a daily basis we do without qualifications. We walk through every conceivable season of a person’s life with them because we are the ones who happen to be present when the call comes.
Then the pandemic hit and everything moved online. Our church hosted multiple online ways to connect: Zoom calls, online teaching, podcasts, Instagram and Facebook communities, virtual camp, book clubs, park meetups, subscription boxes and more. I could fully integrate into the life of our church community and it was wonderful.
What if I told you that the Christian church has been silencing a prophetic presence in our midst?
I was young and early in my career, eager to prove myself and terrified of being perceived as being anything but in total control of my charge. I was not at all happy to be outside of the walls of the school ... I did not want to be walking to church.
Dear Church, As restrictions are being lifted and you plan for being together in person once again, please think of us...
In my time of fear and isolation I found great comfort in the stories told by, and the communities formed by disabled people. Now that we are all traversing the land usually reserved for people with disabilities my hope is that these voices can be a comfort and a light to guide the way for the general public.
I felt the presence of God so much more at the Family Retreat than I had anywhere else in recent years. Seeing so many people of all abilities joining together to make a joyful noise was a powerful experience. The love for God in that room was so strong that it was almost overwhelming. It felt like a preview of heaven.