Isaiah 40 begins with God’s proclamation of Coming Hope.
“Comfort, O Comfort my people!” says the Lord,
“The people of Israel have suffered long enough!”(vs.1&2)
Alas! In this text we are reminded that God’s dominion over heaven and earth is not rooted in isolation, exclusion, or exile. No, God’s rule, is like that of a shepherd who gathers his flock together; carrying in his arms the sheep that cannot walk on their own (vs. 11). This proclamation of Comfort, is not tender platitude….it is balm to the Israelites after generations of suffering in exile. A command to “Comfort!” implies nothing less than a personal and societal upheaval. It is a call to radical transformation that welcomes and includes into God’s embrace all people of Israel, all people of the world.
ADN is a network of thousands of Christians who have been touched by a form of disability and the families and congregations that love and support them. We know that God’s call for an end to suffering and exile through the prophet Isaiah is still relevant today. We still long for the day when having a disability does not mean exclusion from society, the workplace, and especially from the church.
We long for the day when we will know without question that we all belong in our congregations. We long for the day when our gifts will be recognized, when we can serve on committees, lead Sunday school class discussions, participate in worship, are asked for input, present Scripture texts, offer spiritual guidance, and reach out in mission on behalf of the church.
The prophet Isaiah’s words are instructive, “Prepare the way for the Lord!”
…Make STRAIGHT in the desert a highway!
…RAISE UP every valley, BRING down every mountain.
…SMOOTH out the rough grounds and rugged places! (v. 3-5)
The path of the Lord is one upon which all people can traverse. It causes no stumbling, no barriers. There is nothing to limit one’s passage, and when the path is made clear, the Glory of the Lord is revealed.
When congregations are physically and attitudinally inclusive such that people with disabilities can participate – the Glory of God is magnificently revealed – in a breathtaking expression of God’s diversity, creation, celebration, and interconnectedness.
May you walk along with us at ADN this advent season, and all year long, in preparing the way for the Lord, and making straight the path!