Friday, March 20, 2009

A happening in my neck of the woods

Last month, an unprecedented gathering of the special needs community of faith took place at Mission Hills Church in San Marcos. The Concert of Prayer was born as a burden on the heart of one pastor's wife to be praying for those who experience special needs. A moving and shaking mother advocate pulled together several others who embraced the conviction as parents or professionals and our committee was born.

Our aim was to include everyone who is touched by special needs --from parents, to therapists, to bus drivers, to pastors, to intercessors--and unite our hearts in prayer. That night, the most exciting thing was being all together under one roof. The 85 who came shared many emotions and life circumstances as well as a pursuit of the same Shepherd. The diversity, and the unity, in one room was remarkable--a little slice of God's kingdom come.

The background song on the slideshow, "Fellow Traveler" by Ginny Owens, is one I sing at the top of my lungs in traffic cruising up and down Highway 5. The lyrics describe our pilgrimage here and the antidote to the all-to-common loneliness that resonates in the disability experience. It can feel like we're alone--the only one with this or that reality--and no one understands. The Concert of Prayer is a visual reminder that that is simply not true! We are in this together.

The song is made all the more special because Ginny Owens became a friend when she sang at our church Christmas Eve a couple years ago. She is a living testament of walking by faith not by sight. Comfortable in her own skin and blindness, she inspires and jokes and relates the guts of the gospel to me. I appreciate her musical bread crumbs that often lead this "fellow beggar" to a place where there is "rest...and true happiness" the lyrics go...

The beat rolls on; The enthusiasm was such that we have already begun planning for another Concert of Prayer soon. An inter-church council of churches with special needs ministries is emerging as well from the drawing board. I love when the Lord leads and answers prayer in bigger and better ways than we could have imagined!

"...always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, Philippians 1:3-5

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. Psalm 84:4-6

"What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also." 1 Corinthians 14:14-16

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Praying with Lior

Praying with Lior, is an awesome film about the Bar Mitzvah and life ministry of a young man with Down Syndrome. His full inclusion at a Jewish day school, the importance of his community, and his charisma are powerful examples to me of God's kingdom come, God's will being done on earth.

Lior's honest candor and sense of humor warm my heart and draw me to a God in whose image He is surely made. As his Dad says, "he's not stupid; retarded, but not stupid. There's a difference." Ilana Trachtman interviews Lior here, fielding questions about the production and their first meeting.

What a thoughful disability awareness curriculum this study guide of questions and verses from the Old Testament would be for teens coming of age in either the Old or New Testament tradition. Lior has an undeniable spiritual gift of wisdom. What strikes me anew, as it did during Reid's preparation for baptism, is how marvelous it is that the Bible is at once complex and simple. Reid, through the purity of his testimony song and Lior, through his innate preaching distill it to the fundamentals.

As much as I wrote about Reid's baptism, I do not think I ever posted the resulting video. To our immense gratitude, one of the pastors at the beach that day said, "the whole congregation must see this." He arranged for the professional recording of Reid in our family room so this slideshow was shown on New Member Sunday. The ironic twist for me was that after many years of whining and complaining for programs at church that would serve Reid, now as he comes of age, he is in fact, ministering to the church body. God turned upside down and inside out, what I thought I wanted or we deserved. A kind of ministry was born in which he was serving rather than being served.

And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying... 1 Kings 8:54-56

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:6-8

...but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
1 Corinthians 1:26-28