A weathered church steeple in a small American town.
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Without People with Disabilities, We Are Missing Out

If your church doesn’t have any participating members with intellectual disabilities, you are missing out on knowing the fullness of who God is. 

I’ve been reading Brian Brock’s wonderful book, Disability: Living Into the Diversity of Christ’s Body. He writes about the moment when Jesus wants to wash his disciples’ feet, and Peter protests. Then Jesus says that if he doesn’t wash our feet, we can’t be with him. Peter jumps to the other extreme and insists Jesus bathe every part of him. And then Jesus says that if he bathes Peter’s feet, Peter’s whole body will be clean. 

As Brock points out, Jesus is not giving Peter a lesson in personal hygiene. Rather, he is insisting that when we notice and honor the parts of our bodies—and the people in our midst—who are most likely to be unnoticed and dishonored, then we all will be made well. 

Brock writes,

“We know the church is living as the body of Christ when its least presentable members occupy a place of honor.”

I am only beginning to learn this truth, not only in knowing and honoring Penny but also in welcoming people with various cognitive disabilities into our Bible study and into our church family. We are experiencing mutual blessing in reading Scripture together, praying together, and serving our community together. I see the gentle heart of God here. I am welcomed into a greater, wider, broader understanding of love.

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