I hope things are well with you as we continue together in this challenging time, coping with life faithfully during this unique fall.
This coming Sunday, October 11th is designated as Access Sunday, which begins Disabilities Awareness Week. Many Sundays are given special designation by the UCC as you can notice on their web site and in the annual Desk Calendar Plan Book. These special Sundays are usually listed in our weekly worship bulletin heading and references are often made during worship to them. They’re all important, but I must say that I have come to view Access Sunday and Disabilities Awareness Week as particularly worthy of notice, and I see that truth with fresh eyes the older I get.
Some of us have been fortunate to have been born with healthy bodies and minds that work the way they should. Others have physical and mental challenges from the very beginning. But things change over time for everyone, even for those who began life healthy. There are accidents and illnesses, some of which result in permanent diminishment of abilities we once took for granted. Now, in this Covid-19 pandemic, we are aware, as perhaps never before, how quickly our health can change without warning. And, of course, inevitable changes due to aging come to everyone who is fortunate to live a long life.
These truths came home to me in a very real way about twenty-five years ago when my beloved mother, Alma Zimmerman, was stricken with dementia. It was a cruel illness that affected her mind, her personality, and her body. When she fell and broke her hip, because she was mentally unable to participate in physical therapy, she never walked again. She was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. I entered a new world with her, one to which I hadn’t previously paid much attention. Now I was the person pushing a wheelchair, looking at insurmountable steps in our home church, and hoping for accessible restrooms when I took Mom out in public. Like many things in life, until we are personally affected, we simply aren’t aware of realities that need to be changed.
At CCC we are blessed to have a Sanctuary that is on one level, but we still have areas that aren’t accessible to all people. The chancel, where the choir sits and the minister leads worship, can only be reached by steps. (I doubt that a wheelchair could fit through the back-door hallway.) Another challenge is the fact that people who are hearing impaired have difficulty hearing what is being said, as we do not have up-to-date devices to assist and our sound system itself is problematic. In future planning let’s be mindful of implementing necessary changes so CCC might accommodate all and be fully welcoming to everyone.
Responding to the very real needs of those with disabilities demonstrates that we value each person and her/his inclusion in the life of the church. Some day that person might be us, or someone we love. I share with you the prayer below.
May God bless you, each one, strengthening and supporting you day by day.
In Christ’ love,
Holy One, we come before you as imperfect people and we all
seek your presence in our lives. Help us to live comfortably in
our own lives. Help us to accept the ways in which we are
different. Be with us as we grow and as our abilities change
throughout our lifetimes. Grant us the courage to care for one
another and to include one another as you include us. Be our
voice Lord as we call for justice for your people, and teach us to
be a voice that calls for justice for those who live with
disabilities. Amen.click here to download this week's bulletin