Access Sunday, a true response to Pentecost, post 1

Access Sunday in the USA is the second Sunday in October, Disability Sunday in New Zealand is third Sunday in June, UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities 3rd of December. This is a liturgy for Access Sunday from  Rosalie May Sugrue, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Next Monday’s post will also be resources for a Sunday of this theme.

A Liturgy for All, Regardless of Label — Resources for Disability Sunday

Call to Worship

To the God who walks on wounded feet and heals with wounded hands,
To the God who stands beside us wounded, all knowing and all loving,
To the God of imperfections
We offer our imperfect praise,
Trusting in the perfect love of the God who knows what it is to be truly human.

Prayer of approach

God of pain and God of peace, Mother and Father of us all,
Created in your image we inherited what makes us human,
The ability to think, communicate, reflect, record and create.
These gifts are precious and we give you thanks.
Though we have gifts in common, we are not all alike,
Each of us is a different individual, unique and special,
We come before you rejoicing in difference.
We come before you knowing each child is given a different blend
of gifts and experiences, that shape, and keep shaping the adult.
Every person in your world is differently abled,
Every person in your world is differently disabled
Help each of use what we can to enhance our lives and your world. Amen

Reflection on Scripture Luke 13:10-17 — Regardless of Label

Imagine the Synagogue with its bustle of religious men performing their religious duties.  This particular Sabbath a visiting preacher captures a large audience. Behind a grill, women, children and slaves gather to watch.  One person, more outcast than the rest, slouches alone.  Children stare and mothers pull them away.  She bears the stigma of sin – a curse that renders her a cripple.  She exists with the burden of living bent over for eighteen years, denied easy glance to sky and faces. Her wretched and painful world is that of feet, dust and mud. She must have done something terrible to merit this.  She survives by begging.  Her only hope is to be as religious as possible.

Anticipation mounts as the speaker mounts the rostrum.  He gazes over the crowd.  He is young and confident.  His eyes light upon the misshapen shadow beyond the grill.  “Woman,” he calls, “Come here.”  The crowd is astounded and shocked.  Men do not speak to women in the Synagogue and women do not enter the main portion.  Despite only wanting to remain un-noticed the outcast dares obey. Feel her hating the gaze of the public, imagine her pause in panic, and the public move back. See the disgust in the faces. She does not twist to look but feels the disdain. An unpleasant murmur ripples the crowd and over it comes the voice of Jesus saying, ‘Come unto me.’ The woman musters all the courage she posses and limps forward. Jesus stoops and touches the untouchable one.  The touch is warm, human, tender and strong. “Woman,” he says, “You are freed from your infirmity.” She straightens to his words and looks into the face of the Christ. The crowd is transfixed, and angry.

Not only has an unclean woman entered a sacred part of the synagogue, the healer is ‘working’ on the Sabbath. The young preacher dares answer his elders and betters with a ring of authority. He calls them hypocrites reminding them they tend animals on the Sabbath.

Then Jesus refers to the deformed woman as a ‘daughter of Abraham.’ Abraham! The greatest of the Patriarchs, the founder of the Nation, the ‘great one’ prepared to follow God to the end of the world, the person of perfect faith with whom God made a holy Covenant. To be called a daughter of Abraham elevates her to undreamed of status.

Those present witnessed more than mere healing.  All were confronted with the fact that this woman was their equal.  Jesus further reminded the people it was not sin but Satan that bound their kinswoman.  The people understood and were ashamed.  And then they were able to rejoice.

Offering

One: God, help us to know the truth of your love in our lives;
All: Enable us to grow in the grace we need …
One: … to be agents of change for a better world.
All: We dedicate ourselves and our gifts to your service. Amen.

Prayer of intercession

God of our yesterdays and God of our tomorrows
we ask that you be with us now, God of our today.

We are an Easter People!
We have experienced the resurrection,
Yet often we behave like your pre-Easter followers,
uncertain and unprepared.
Help us claim our Easter heritage
and live with confidence.

Equip us for what is to come.
Help us to travel light
carrying what is best from the past to the future.

God of Vision and New Possibilities
open our hearts and minds to the reality of your presence.
God of Light illuminate the dark places of our lives.
We are not perfect people.
Come through the cracks of our imperfections and fill us with your light.

We pray for all marginalized people.
Those who suffer discrimination because of: gender, race,
sexual orientation, physical or mental impairment.
Give them strength and belief in their worth.
We pray for those active in discrimination,
and those who allow it to happen.
May they know what they do.
May they understand the hurts they cause.

We gather our thoughts in this sacred place
knowing that you have heard each sincere desire.
We long for a time when all people are valued.

May our unconditional love flow from us to others
May it swirl and curl through this year
embracing all who seek a better life.     Amen

Hymn Suggestion ‘Alleluia Aotearoa’ “ Who is my mother, who is my brother…”
Shirley Murray / Ian Render

Affirmation           

One: With your help O God:
All: We reject victim mentality – we will live as survivors
We will do the best we can – we will be people of faith.

Benediction/Commission

One: For the God who walks on wounded feet and heals with wounded hands,
For the God who stands beside us wounded, all knowing and all loving,
For the God of imperfections,
All: We go into our wonderful and imperfect world to reflect God’s perfect love,
and in so doing, claim what it is to be truly human.

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