Affirming the gifts of all people
28 July 2017 IN: Ministers
Revd Jackie Calow, Vicar at St Michael’s, Tonge-cum-Alkrington and All Saints, Rhodes, asks, "What your perception is for the ‘requirements’ of ordained ministry"?
My youngest son, Jonathan is severely autistic, with limited communication, a learning disability (no special skills if you think that’s what autism is) and he has epilepsy. He is also good looking, inappropriately affectionate, vulnerable - wants to give everyone hugs and can be loud.
Questions about my vocation and coping with Jonathan’s disability came not from those who tested my calling, but from my family and church family. I empathised with that misguided concern, but my response was simple – challenge that perception, persist – look beyond ignorance, to make a difference, after all, what does it mean to be made in the image of God when you have a disability and what do others think? Particularly in terms of vocation and inclusion.
God didn’t heal, ‘make perfect’, the protesting Moses for his ministry, Moses was already perfect and God simply said, ‘get on with it’. So, likewise, when asking the question of who we are, we can say who we are, is who we are in Christ, and wow! Jonathan, regardless of his disability, is amazing at moving people from inclusion to discipleship – young or old.
Through the opportunity to encounter disability in Church, Jonathan has inspired, and done much to break down the barriers of disability. What I’ve witnessed is when we expand our imagination and re-imagine what it means to encounter disability and be a Christian in the midst of that, then we truly know what it means to love as Christ loves. This demonstrates fully that disabled people have much to offer to the Church and the plans God has - even ordained ministry.