Category Archives: Spirtual Services

Resources for Disability Ministries

General articles on disability awareness

https://rca.org/search/site/disability%20awareness?f%5B0%5D=bundle%3Aresource

Disability Awareness Sunday resources

https://www.rca.org/equipping-congregations/disability/

United Methodist Church disability website

https://www.umdisabilityministries.org/

United Methodist Church Disability Sunday resources

https://www.umdisabilityministries.org/dasunday/

 

Books, blogs, videos, and personal stories for use at home, church, and school

 

Websites associated with Joni Eareckson Tada’s ministry

https://www.joniandfriends.org/

https://irresistiblechurch.org/

The facebook page for the RCA and CRC disability ministry

https://www.facebook.com/disabilityconcerns/

The facebook page for the disability ministry committee of the United Methodist Church

https://www.facebook.com/DisAbilityMinistriesUM/

The blog page and facebook page for the CLC Network which is an organization that offers assistance to churches and schools in the areas of disability ministry and education

https://allbelong.org/

https://www.facebook.com/AllBelongOrg/

Disability Awareness Sunday

In healthy churches, everybody belongs, everybody serves

Disability Awareness Sunday is observed in the Reformed Church in America on the second Sunday of October. This year, that date is October 14. Disability Awareness Sunday encourages congregations to grow in becoming places of belonging for everyone to discover ways to engage their gifts in ministry, with a particular focus on people with disabilities.

We should observe this special day because all believers are called by God. Each believer has a mission to fulfill that has been given by God. The body of Christ, the church, has many parts but is one. This means that each member of Christ’s body is essential for a healthy church.

The observation of Disability Awareness Sunday can be the beginning of a new journey for your congregation, or it can further strengthen the ministry your church might already have in place for people with disabilities.

My hope as Spiritual Services Facilitator for Christian Opportunity Center is that we move together as brothers and sisters in Christ toward discipleship opportunities and worship experiences that are inclusive of all gifts and abilities. 

Coming Home for Christmas

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God. Ephesians 2:17-19

With Christmas day less than two days away, we’re entering the time of year when people are making plans to travel. Some of us may only need to go a few miles to reach our destinations, while others may need to drive or fly long distances. Our reasons are all the same.

We’re coming home for Christmas.

The word home is loaded with hopes and expectations. Time spent there may include sharing a meal with loved ones or exchanging gifts. It may mean catching up on stories and news with people we haven’t seen for a while. It might also involve sharing in games or concerts and making special memories. These things are all wonderful, and we might enjoy them very much, but they still may not completely answer our longing for home. Somewhere that we can find peace. A place where we know we will never get hurt again. A space where loss cannot happen, we never have to say good-bye, and we won’t ever be forced to leave it.

Home. A place to stay for as long as we want with people we love. It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? This is what we’re all hoping for, and what we might be searching for. And yet, it seems so difficult to find. Once we have found it, sometimes it can disappear into evaporation right before our eyes. We just can’t seem to hold onto that elusive place our hearts so desperately want to have.

Mary and Joseph strayed far from home at the time their first child was about to enter the world. Their travel did not happen by choice. It was forced upon them by a tyrannical ruler in the Roman Empire. I wonder how Mary felt as distance grew between her, their families, and their home town. A young woman ready to deliver a baby would want the comfort of her mother and the trusted local midwife nearby. How she must have longed at times for Joseph to just turn the donkey around. If he’d take her back home, she could give birth in her own bed instead of along the road or among strangers.

For as uncertain as the trip may have been for Mary, a moment arrived when she came home. All the things she longed for lay wrapped in the bundle in her arms. This new baby she and Joseph named Jesus would bring her salvation. He would offer her a grace that overcame any of the pain and distress of her journey to Bethlehem. His limitless provisions of peace and love would satisfy her better than the comforts of home back in Nazareth ever could. She was welcome to stay in this place for as long as she wished. The stark manger in a musty barn probably didn’t hold much charm, but the promise of a relationship with this newborn reached into eternity. Jesus gave her a place in his kingdom that would never end. Mary never needed to leave. She wouldn’t need to say good-bye to him or sustain any loss of his favor and care. She was his and he was hers. Forever.

Are you living far from God this holiday season? Have you lost your way home or forgotten how to find it? Jesus knows your way home. He is your way home. He stands at the door ready to welcome you in.

The Hidden Qualities of Gratitude

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through the psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Colossians 3:16-17

Recently, I watched the movie, Billy, The Early Years of Billy Graham. In one of the scenes, a young Billy is sitting in class listening to a professor lecture. In answer to Billy’s question about who becomes an evangelist, the professor says, “It’s about the call. It’s about serving the one who died for you. It’s about His message.”

When reflecting on what it means to be grateful, I think of this line from the movie. It’s about serving the one who died for you. Jesus. The one who took all my sin and wrongdoing to the cross. He freed me and cleansed me. Now his Holy Spirit continues the work of redemption in my life moving me closer to wholeness.

The best response I can possibly give is one of gratitude. But thankfulness isn’t always the natural default of our hearts. Gratitude doesn’t matter very much unless something has happened first that felt dangerous or caused pain. When life feels safe or is easily understood, the reasons for thankfulness are obscured. But those times when we’ve experienced loss or pain shine light on the ways we’ve been rescued or provided for. Then we are thankful. “Thank you, Lord, for sparing us,” or “Thank you, Lord, for giving us what we needed,” become the prayer of our hearts. God is present in all kinds of ways hidden from us until difficulty strikes. Then we see his mercy. That’s when we notice his hand guiding us. These are the times when we are dependent on him for the things we need most.

Out of this thankfulness grows a desire to give back. Gratitude is dynamic in this way. “Freely you have received, freely give,” Jesus commissions his disciples in Matthew 10. We can’t hold onto our gifts and express gratitude at the same time. The awareness of having something done for us makes us want to do something for others.

We serve the one who died for us. We sing songs of gratitude in our hearts to God. Everything is done in the name of Jesus while giving thanks to God the Father.

This feels good because we know how much we are cared for. We become more practiced at noticing God’s presence and gifts throughout the day. We start to understand, even just a little, what Jesus meant when he talked about abundant life in John 10. Giving away what we have and sharing who we are comes more naturally. Before long, our entire life becomes one big receptacle of God’s gifts, his benefits, and his mercies as they are continually poured out upon us.

This year, my heart is deeply grateful for those who support COC in so many ways. As I interact with the pastors of our churches, the volunteers who assist with Friendship Bible, and others in our community who offer their ongoing support to the organization, I’m reminded again of how true that line from the Billy Graham movie really is. We serve the one who died for us. It is my honor and privilege to serve alongside you to advance the kingdom. Happy Thanksgiving.

Michelle De Bruin

Spiritual Services, COC

Our mission is to Integrate Christian values in empowering individuals with disabilities to realize their full potential.