Pause for thought: For you are all one in Christ Jesus
I have been thinking a lot recently about disabilities and the ways in which we can help or unknowingly hinder the progress of others.
There is a feeling sometimes that whilst we can do things to help each other they may not always be the best. An example of this is in a book I read called, ‘My body is not a prayer request.’. In this book, the author Amy Kenny has taken the opportunity to think about what is done by others which does not enable her so much as disable her. Due to a rare condition, she uses a wheelchair. She was really pleased when her Church moved to a building with a wheelchair-accessible ramp at the entrance. However, when they moved to the building the entrance used was one where people had to enter using steps. The entrance with the ramp was ignored and she had to enter from the side of the building, not the main entrance. For a short moment, she felt fully included but suddenly she went back to feeling excluded. (Kenny, 2022, p. 161)
I cannot help but think that the way we treat others must be about making everyone included. By simple things such as access to a building, we can exclude people. I have been thinking about disability theology and the fact that people who are disabled can be both included and sadly excluded. This does not sit well with the view that we are all equal in the sight of God.
Accommodating others is easier than we might think. In the Bible, we read in the letter to the Galatians 3:27 that we are all equal in Jesus. We are all one, with no distinction.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
If we are all equal, if God sees us and loves us in the same way, which He undoubtedly does, we have to find ways to love each other and to see one another as He does.
How wonderful it would be if the Church was full of people all with different needs who felt completely included. I recently went to a Church where there this was demonstrated really well, with people of different ages, ethnicity and disabilities integrated in worship together. It was all ok because they were truly a family. What an amazing vision of how we can really live and work together as all of God’s children.
Some differences will be visible, some won't but as a family let's truly welcome everyone.
Revd Helen Rees