Sunday 15 August 2021. Disability Awareness Sunday by Revd Andrew Warmback

Services are held this Sunday at 7.30am and 9.15am. The full Service Slides may be found on our website.

Services are held this Sunday at 7.30am and 9.15am.

Sermon by Revd Andrew Warmback (Readings Romans 12: 3-8;  John 9:1-12)

Jesus often interacted with and spoke about people who had disabilities. This is important to know because within our society and in our churches there is a significant number of people who have physical, emotional, sensory, and intellectual disabilities; some disabilities are visible and some not easily seen.

Many of us will experience disability at some stage in our lives, and most of us when we grow older.

I want to look at three of the stories from the gospels in which Jesus interacts with people with disabilities.

The first is today’s story, the healing of a man born blind. (John 9:1-12)

The religious leaders ask Jesus a question: “Who sinned, this man or his parents?”  There was a commonly held belief at that time that blindness, deafness, paralysis etc was as a result of sin, or somehow a punishment for the person.  While we do not believe this today the stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities still remains.

Jesus answers clearly, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned.”  Jesus challenged the attitudes that led to the blaming of people for their disability and the social attitudes that led to the rejection and exclusion of people from society. May we have that same compassionate approach.

The second story is about the healing of the paralysed man (Mark 2:1–12).

The friends of this paralysed man brought him on a mat to Jesus. Jesus was in a house at Capernaum.  When they got to the house, they found such a large crowd there that they could not even get in through the door.  They then took him up to the roof, removed part of it and lowered him down to Jesus.

People with disabilities face many barriers, but through their determination and with the support of others they can overcome these barriers.

What barriers do be put up in the church? Are wheel chair users able to get into our church, on their own, for example?  Can every one participate and follow the service – see what is going on and hear what is being said? Are we using the microphones well? Are we loud enough?

Also let us be conscious, as I mentioned earlier of our discriminatory attitudes towards people with disabilities that may keep people at a distance and hinder their full inclusion.

The final story is the parable of the banquet (Luke 14: 12-24)

It is a story about someone holding this big dinner and inviting many people. The invited guests give excuses: one has brought some land and must go and see it; another has bought some oxen and needs to go and try them out; and another has just got married.

Following Jesus’ advice given earlier the host then tells his servant to “go into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in those who are poor and maimed and blind and lame.” The servant does this and says “There is still room.”

This is a wonderful story of hospitality – of the welcoming and valuing of people with disabilities. Those on the outside, on the outskirts of society are brought to the table to enjoy the feast.

Today people with disabilities are still often found on the outside, isolated; but they are also among us; may those who have been ignored or left out be invited to share fully in the life, leadership and mission of our church.

Let us celebrate difference, accepting one another’s abilities, that each person may achieve their full potential

Amen

Here is a video produced for today by one of our Lay Ministers, Luyanda Gwina, on his journey with his son who is on the autism spectrum.

 

During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account:   Account Name: St Paul’s Church  Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 221426