A Moment for Mission
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” —Matthew 11:29-30, NRSV
On a designated Sunday earlier this year, the Baltimore-Washington Conference observed Disability Awareness Sunday. One participant was Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Laurel, Maryland.
The church had a special service with the Rev. Leo Yates Jr., a deacon, preaching. Reading from Luke 14:15-23, he touched on epilepsy, wheelchair users, hearing loss, autism, dementia and ableism. Yates said he found Sesame Street lessons on social awareness and disability inclusion helpful, as they flowed well with the congregation’s recent sermon series “Good News from Sesame Street.”
Preparations for the service included an item in the conference e-news and announcements in the congregation’s newsletter. An information table featured bulletin inserts from the conference Commission on Disability Concerns, a brochure highlighting the work and resources available from various United Methodist-related disability groups and more. Visitors to the table also learned about the congregation’s signing group that meets monthly.
Throughout the year, Emmanuel members also visit an assisted-living facility, where classes teach sign language to the residents. The congregation also participates in other disability-related observances, such as Deaf Awareness Sunday.
The Baltimore-Washington Conference website suggests ways to encourage inclusion in worship and offers a bulletin announcement, a children’s sermon and recommended Scripture texts that speak to disabilities or a specific disability.
Across The United Methodist Church, Disability Awareness Sunday is observed annually on a date determined by each conference.
—Adapted from Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference website, Feb. 3, 2020. Used by permission.
Loving God, your yoke is easy, and your burden is light. Strengthen our resolve to be kinder, gentler and more accepting and inclusive of all of your children. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Fifth Sunday after Pentecost — God of wisdom and all good gifts: We bring our tithes and offerings to your altar, remembering that, like Abraham, you have blessed us to be a blessing to others. Remind us this morning that the gift of freedom that comes to Christ is also a gift not to be kept but to be shared. Even as the world asserts that freedom is a ticket to “go our own way,” you made us free to be part of Christ’s body in the world, connected and interdependent. May the way we live and the way we give reflect that kind of freedom. In Christ’s blessed name, we pray. Amen. (Galatians 5:1, 13-25)
You’re probably familiar with these words from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. … If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 26, NRSV).
Every part of the body of Christ matters. We’re all in this together, and our task is to include every one of God’s children and to recognize, value and cherish each individual.
Celebrating the gifts and graces of people with disabilities, United Methodists observe Disability Awareness Sunday annually on a date determined by each annual conference. It calls for full inclusion of people with disabilities in the community. If the conference so directs, an offering may be received and the funds used by the conference to promote the creation of architectural and attitudinal accessibility in local churches.