Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Posts tagged ‘#Angels’

Can we all be a bit more like Angela please?

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Psalm 131 (NIRV)

A song for those who go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. A psalm of David.

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.
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.

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.

Multi-Ethnic Group Of People Holding The Word Welcome

An example of an inclusive church!

Well, now December has hit us it’s full steam ahead for Christmas for many of us.  Here at St Andrew’s, the church is having a week of prayer and we are very excited at the Good News Group because one of the prayer meetings is at our meeting on the Wednesday night.

St Andrew's prayer meeting leaflet showing the Good News Group prayer meeting on the Wednesday

You can just spot us on the Wednesday (a clue – it’s in red!)

Of course we are going to do prayer the Good News Group way so it is accessible to all.  We will use our prayer trees and bowls. (the idea is for those who cannot or don’t want to speak to offer their prayer into the bowl as a way of joining in prayers.)

a small metal tree which we hang prayer cards onto

a wooden bowl which we put prayer pebbles into

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I have been making some symbol supported prayers at different levels so those who need help praying can use them.

a set of cards with symbols of our prayer topics

As well as this we are practicing for our Christmas outreach service which happens next week.  This is one of the main outreach services the Good News Group has each year and we encourage our members to do the reaching out.  They invite their friends and family, neighbours and carers.  It will be great to share the Good News with so many more people.

I hope you are all remembering that God is working in all circumstances and loves you very much.

collection of names of Jesus word

Angel Messages

d0066The first thing I love after a break from Good News Group is the greetings I get as I walk through the door. After a long day at work and a staff meeting I rush to church to stumble in with my bag of admin and resources…to a warm and wonderful welcome from our group members. No matter how stressful the day – two minutes after arriving at Good News Group I feel like I’ve been sat in a large armchair and given a hot mug of tea and a soothing shoulder massage…

This term everyone is gearing up for Christmas. We have decided to look at John the Baptist and how God gave the message loud and clear…JESUS IS COMING!

IMG-20131112-00849I think I got the easiest week to deliver…How the angel Gabriel came to deliver the messages of the birth of John to Zechariah and Elisabeth and then of Jesus to Mary.

Again I tried to include sensory experiences, visual and drama. The smell of incense was a good element to use as Zechariah offered it up to the Lord in the temple. We had a married couple whose anniversary it was that day so they were an obvious choice to play Zechariah and Elisabeth which they were both delighted to do.

One aspect of the story I wanted to show was that angels are not the fluffy, fairy-like people we often associate them with. Fortunately the video clip I found had a ‘real’ looking angel on it and we talked about how angels are God’s soldiers and messengers. It was fun dressing up one of our male leaders as a soldier. To finish off I asked two of our members to come and be God’s messengers. We spoke about how God sent a message to Zechariah, and then to many people through his son John…and the message that JESUS IS COMING is still the message he gives us today.

The ‘messengers’ gave out a little envelope to everyone and inside was one of these…

IMG-20131112-00847

(This is a red heart Christmas Tree decoration with a heart shaped message that I printed off onto sticky label paper on my computer.)

Remember everyone…JESUS IS COMING and we hope and pray that message brings joy to your life.

Amen

 

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