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In disability studies, it is customary to distinguish between impairment a physiological, medical phenomenon and disability a social phenomenon. Not all impairments cause pain or suffering. Another crucial matter relates to the language of cure and healing. Cure refers to the elimination of impairment and, as with impairment, is experienced at the individual level.

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Healing may or may not involve a cure. Just as a disability is a communally imposed limitation, so, too, is healing communally based — liberation, integration and reconciliation to self, God and the community. The man born blind John 9 was both cured and healed.


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The man at the pool of Bethesda John 5 was cured but not healed. Those of us who claim the incarnation — God embodied — need to consider which kinds of bodies are valued and which are not. We have the opportunity — no, the responsibility — to give light and voice to this oft-neglected aspect of the gospel.

The Rev. Suggested resources:. Eiesland Abingdon Press, Sarah J.


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Melcher, Mikeal C. I'm currently a Sunday School, and occasional children's church co-leader, and I need to be careful in this area while in those capacities. Her suggestions on how to use Bible stories are rather sparse. For example, in Chapter Four, on Mark , she suggests a number of things not to do in using this story.

For one, she warns against assuming that members of the Deaf culture want to hear. Her suggestions as to what to do are just two: Don't reject people because they are different, and be willing to offer healing where there is no faith. I guess that they don't need to be. Thanks for reading. And what of Mephibosheth?

He calls himself a dead dog. He views his life as a disabled person as a fate worse than death.

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Most likely he had lived an isolated life until David called for him. Did Mephibosheth feel that he was going to his death? The only job they could legitimately claim was that of beggar. Why would David insist on setting the world upside down?

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The treasure in this story is the transformation not only of David and Mephibosheth and their relationship, but of the entire community. How powerful! More than any other, this story surprises me with joy every time I read it. It shows a person with a disability as the complex being that he is, that we all are.

It demonstrates that those who are non-disabled as well as those who are disabled must do what is just in the sight of God.


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It reveals that disability issues are complex—they include accessibility, autonomy, work and economic status, socialization, the right to marry and have children. Both the non-disabled and the disabled have an equal place in society. Disability is a part of life that needs to be addressed by non-disabled as well as disabled people.

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Finally, the story shows that ministry with persons with disability takes place in the practical everyday details of life. Jesus forever breaks the tie between sin and disability. Disability no longer can be stigmatized as something unclean.

Disability brings a prophetic voice into the body of Christ—it proclaims the power that belongs to God. Jesus is the light of the world that empowers members of the body of Christ to let their light shine. Truly we are all created in the image of God—gifted and called to live in community where all give and receive. Our bodies are clay vessels that contain the treasure of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are given to all.

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The act of cleansing with water is symbolic of baptism—God making us his own. Through these acts, the beggar is transformed into a whole being and is brought into community. Not only do we see the miracle of a cure, but also the miracles of individual and communal healing. The entire community sees the healing of the blind man as suspect.