Tag Archives: 1 Corinthians 12

Strong and Able-bodied?

“Weak Or Strong Directions” by Stuart Miles from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With flood waters rising in my hometown of Houston, the need for help was inevitable.  For a colleague in ministry, many homes in her neighborhood flooded and help was needed urgently from her church. The social media plea asked for a “good number of folks who are strong and able-bodied” to assist.

Disaster Early Response

When I read the request I was out of town at a conference, the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, with people from all around the world. I looked around the conference center and wondered, who is strong? Who is able-bodied? Who decides?

I’m strong enough, but temporarily not able-bodied due to an over-zealous workout that badly strained several tendons in my ankle and left me hobbling with mincing steps. I’d slowed my steps earlier in the week for friends with wheelchairs and canes. On that day, I struggled to keep up with them. Our conference host introduced to the concept of “no wasted movements” to help my days run more smoothly. One presenter spoke of people being “temporarily able-bodied.” So true! Whatever our capacity is on any given day it is likely to change, perhaps in an instant.

I looked across the room at a person in a manual wheelchair. I’d seen her push herself down long carpeted hallways. Which of us is stronger? I sure wouldn’t want to arm-wrestle her! I looked at another friend in a motorized wheelchair whose words I struggle to understand. She is very patient, letting me respond with what I catch and then filling in the rest until I have it right. She has a brilliant theological mind and writes poignantly about God and faith. She is remarkably able-bodied in some ways, less so in others.

As the psalmist writes, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14 NRS). We are all strong and able-bodied. We simply express it in a broad variety of ways. I am not criticizing the wording in in my friend’s message of outreach for neighbors in need. She and her church have done a remarkable job in ministry! Rather, I’m suggesting each of us look at ourselves and our own families and celebrate how each person is strong and able-bodied. Celebrate the ways in which each is gifted.

Paul wrote to a divided church in Corinth:

As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.  (1Corinthians 12:20-22a NRS)

A young mother of two children was struggling with the early effects of multiple sclerosis when her church put out a call for volunteers to help build a home for Habitat for Humanity. Sitting on the sidelines was not an option for this young mom, but neither was lifting drywall nor swinging a hammer. Their contribution? Sack lunches with a prayer of encouragement tucked inside, beverages, and home-baked treats. The family celebrates the house they helped build each time the drive by.

In choosing for ourselves to share with others the ways in which we are strong and able-bodied, everybody wins.

Gracious God, we thank you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. The true strength humanity comes in its diversity, a kaleidoscope of gifts and graces that celebrate your glory. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Photos: “Weak or Strong” by Stuart Miles from FreeDigitalPhotos.net  “UMC Early Responders” by Hannah Terry

Pick Anthony!

Hand Reach To Sky by samuiblue

The reason we never sit in the front row of a show is the inevitable request to the audience, “I’m looking for a volunteer.”

The reaction of virtually everyone was the same… Look away… Don’t make eye contact… Sit completely still and don’t appear that you can be separated from the herd…

Everyone except Anthony.  Anthony’s hand shot in the air with all the enthusiasm of Arnold Horshak on a re-run of Welcome Back Kotter. “Oh! Oh! Oh!”

I was sitting up in the balcony well out of the “accidental volunteer zone,” and it seemed everyone around me knew Anthony.

“Look at Anthony.”

“Anthony wants to volunteer.”

“I don’t think the juggler sees Anthony.”

Thus began the cheer from the cheap seats.  “Pick Anthony! Pick Anthony!”

I never actually met Anthony, but I knew of Anthony almost immediately when my husband and I took a recent fall New England cruise. Whether it was our fellow dinner companions, casual conversations in the gym, or chatting with fellow passengers on tours, it seemed everyone knew Anthony.

“Have you met Anthony yet? “

“No.”

“Oh, you will!”

I’m sure there are many things Anthony can’t do.  Frankly, I don’t care about those things. There are plenty of things I can’t do either so that just makes us even. A young adult in his mid-twenties, he was gregarious, friendly and everyone who talked about him thought he was great and had a funny story to tell. He sat in the front row at every show, always starting a standing ovation and blowing kisses to the dancers. Anthony was a unifier. Anthony was a cheerleader. Anthony was everyone’s friend. Our tablemates hung out with Anthony a good bit since their cabin was close to his and I always enjoyed hearing the stories that started, “Guess what Anthony did today.”

I suppose one of the favorite things about my vacation was that I got to experience a place called acceptance. No one focused on what was different about Anthony, but rather what was great about him.  It reminds me of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth where they played favorites and he reminded him that we are all in it together.

As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. (1Corinthians 12:20-26 NRSV)

Paul reminds us how to get it right. Everyone belongs. Everyone has a gift to share. It was a pleasure to see that lived out among my fellow passengers. The trip would have been less without Anthony. I’m glad God picked us to be on his ship.

Holy God, thank you for Anthony and the way that you have gifted him. May all those who share his unique abilities find a place called acceptance. Amen.

Image courtesy of “Hand Reach to Sky” by samuiblue at FreeDigitalPhotos.net