Sunday 8th September 2019 Not so much a sermon as a description of our Family Service!
This year, as part of our Family Service, we held our first Livability Sunday service at St Paul’s. St Paul’s has always tried to be a church where all people feel welcome and Livability is a charity which helps churches become places where people of all abilities and circumstances can flourish. All of us have things we can and cannot do. Some of us are born with disabilities. Some of us develop a disability throughout our life due to illness, accident or aging. However, each of us is precious to God and a gift to one another.
During our service, instead of a talk, we watched this video, where 14-year-old Becky Tyler uses eye gaze technology to preach a stonking homily to 6000 people at Greenbelt.
Despite being unable to do so many things that many of us take for granted, God used Becky to bring a message of love and hope, of challenge and comfort. Too often we think that “we” (the able bodied) are supposed to be helping “them” (those who experience a disability). The reality is that we need the gifts and insights of all our sisters and brother to be most fully the family of God. In the Kingdom of God, those the world perceives as weak or poor are often the ones with strength and riches to share.
(If you want to hear more from Becky, do follow her YouTube channel “EyeGazeGirl”)
Recognising the different ways people communicate, we also decided to introduce some simple BSL signs into our liturgy. We were indebted to Rev Katie Tupling, the Disability Adviser and Chaplain to the Deaf Community in Oxford Diocese for producing this YouTube video at no notice, first thing on a Sunday morning, so we could use BSL responses in our prayers.
Hopefully, Livability Sunday is just one step on our journey to being a church family where all God’s children are valued and can flourish. We believe that our differences are something to cherish and celebrate and look forward to all we can learn from each other!