This is a second Easter entry, the thirteenth, in the UCCDM Lenten Devotional 2016 series. This devotional reflection comes from Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas. Her bio can be found on the Board of Directors page.
“That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” (Acts 10:37-10:41)
“Come and see!” That is the shout for today and we have walked a long Lenten road to hear it. In receiving this message we become witnesses to the fact of the resurrection.
The gospels are full of messages of Jesus’s ministry, including Jesus’s healing of people with various illnesses. The healing stories of the gospels can be troublesome for some people with disabilities. The trouble with “miraculous healings” occurs when one is not healed as another may suppose. What then? There is a history of people with disabilities being blamed and shamed for being less than “faithful” when they are not “healed”. There are places around the world today where people with disabilities are seen as demon possessed and may actually be subject to physical harm if not “healed”. (It is why we need international treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.) Healings are part of the gospel and yet they remain troubling.
Then there is my own story. I was born with cerebral palsy (CP). I was born paralyzed on the right side. It is said I used my right hand to reach out for a toy at six months of age. It was not a miraculous cure. There were many other issues from the CP that would remain part of my life. My mother will sometimes say it was an answer to the prayers she said as she faithfully did my physical therapy. I’ve never been completely comfortable with that. I put in countless hours of multiple physical, occupational, and speech therapies well into my teens. If it was all prayer, why did I have to put in so much effort? Why do I still? But the truth is I do not know how it happened–I can not say it was all one thing and none of the other. What I do know is that I have been fundamentally changed and that the spiritual presence of Jesus has been a constant in my life. I know I am a witness to the Risen Christ’s presence because there are things I have experienced in life and in the world I can explain no other way.
This is one reason I know I am called by God to preach about Jesus the Christ. This all sometimes confuses people who meet me and do not perceive that I have disabilities. Sometimes people have demanded proof of my disabilities. So sometimes I have to just laugh at those who do not believe my witness. And I trust that the Risen Christ will be made known in healing them too.
Dear God, we ask that You would watch over those people with disabilities who may be in danger. We ask you would grant us all hope. And that you would cure our unbelief. Amen!