Psalm 131 (NIRV)
A song for those who go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. A psalm of David.
1 Lord, my heart isn’t proud.
My eyes aren’t proud either.
I don’t concern myself with important matters.
I don’t concern myself with things that are too wonderful for me.
2 I have made myself calm and content
like a young child in its mother’s arms.
Deep down inside me, I am as content as a young child.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forever.
I’ve just come home after attending the funeral of one of our Good News Group members. Angela had Down’s Syndrome and lived to be 61. She lived with her family and was part of a church that loved and accepted her as she was. She’d been at the GNG for many years but hadn’t been attending for almost a year due to being ill….but she is and always will be part of our family. We will miss her very much.
You see Angela didn’t have very many words but those she did have she used to great effect. She introduced herself to everyone – literally everyone – by going up to them with a huge smile on her face and greeting them with “Hello, my name is Angela” in a beautiful sing song voice.
Angela loved handbags, football and colouring in. She loved music and singing worship songs and got so excited when we had puppets that we used to just get them out of the box and sit one next to her, just to share in her delight. She had a twinkle in her eye that told us when she was joking or pulling our leg and Jesus shone in her and from her every pore. And Angela could say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” because that came from one of her favourite films.
Angela was never judgemental. She had no regard for status or rank. She treated everyone the same whether she liked you or you had done something that annoyed her (although she was never mad for long). Angela lived each day just for that day and didn’t seem to worry about the future. She did love and engage with everyone around her, no matter who you were. The Queen would have had the same greeting as a pauper.
A bit like the Jesus I know.
I’m tired of people being excluded from church families because they are different, don’t fit the mould or are the wrong kind of person. “Are you disabled? Well, you can’t do this or that. Are you a woman…then, you can’t do this or that. Are you LGBT?…then, you can’t do this or that. Are you a foreigner?…well you can’t do this or that. Can’t you keep you disabled child quiet?…then you can’t do this or that. Are you mentally ill?…then you can’t do this or that. We can’t have our churches run by these kinds of people.”
Did Jesus make up these categories…I don’t think so…
But these are the messages I hear from all kinds of Christians and church people. We’re all shouting at each other and no-one seems to be listening. (Except maybe the outside world who think what are they on about?!)
So, in my grief today I was reminded that Jesus came for all of mankind. That no-one is excluded unless they think they don’t need him. I want to be more like Angela and accept everyone, just as they are. I am working it out as He teaches me what that looks like in practice. I’m willing to be shown where I’ve got it wrong – by the Spirit working in and through the people and situations I meet. At the moment I don’t even know if I want to part of ‘the church’ in this country that’s doing a lot of shouting – but not about the gospel, only at each other. But I expect God will sort my thoughts out about that eventually.
So will you join me in being more like Angela? Angela’s name means “MESSENGER OF GOD” and here’s her message. It’s simple really. Open up your arms and greet people in the name of Jesus. No matter who they are.