Monday, July 15, 2019
Inclusion of persons with disabilities in the church
As had been mentioned before in this blog, my wife and I lead a ministry to adults with disabilities at my local church. Its called the Light and Power Company. Each week we have a typical bible lesson to the 50-80 adults who are present. This past week, we studied the passages from
Luke 6:6-11, Matthew 2:9-14, and Mark 3:1-6 where Jesus healed a man's right hand, on the Sabbath, in the synagogue. The story is interesting on a variety of fronts. But the aspect that struck me this time, was how the leadership would refuse to see the obvious positive nature of Jesus healing the man's hand. This was no doubt a person in their community, familiar to them, who perhaps experienced hardship because of his impairment. To their credit, he was in the congregation, hopefully not just invited on this one occasion to try to "trip" Jesus up.
When Jesus does heal the man's hand, their response it to want to kill him. Their theology is wrong on so many levels. Wrong in not loving their neighbor, wrong in putting their traditions over the commands of God, and wrong in their response to Jesus doing an obviously beautiful thing for the man. But Jesus' actions didn't fit into their tradition straight jacket they had been conditioned to believe. Because we have not done something in a particular way, because I haven't be trained about this response, perhaps as with the Pharisees I have been trained to think this change in tradition is wrong, I will resist it.
We continue to stand at a crossroads in ministry. Will we love all our neighbors and embrace the changes that need to occur to love them and include them? Or will we, like the Pharisees, literally conspire to do evil in the process of resisting change. Hopefully we are not plotting the kinds of things the leaders in Jesus' time were, but we can still engage in evil when we exclude people on the characteristic called impairment.
Its sad how we can see the blindness in the Pharisees when they can't see something clearly presented, but cannot see our own blindness. A similar story could be told about where some of us are in our stranglehold on tradition.