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What It Means to be a Christian with a Disability

The Rev. Claire Wimbush, who was born with spastic cerebral palsy, wonders what it means to be a Christian with a disability. In this 10-minute video, she explains why the wounded body of Jesus shows us a kind of wholeness that does not depend on physical perfection.

"I looked at the Gospels and saw that God became this body too. Not any body, but one particular body, in Galilee, at a particular point in history. Jesus' particular body is the body that was broken on the cross and then raised again after three days, still bearing the wounds of the cross," says Wimbush. "And God — who can make oceans, and elephants with ears the size of tablecloths, and blue butterflies and all the wonderful things that we see around us  could surely have found the power to close those wounds, and to resurrect the Son of God in a perfectly whole body. So the fact that God did not choose to do that tells me something mysterious about how God wishes to be in the world. God never chooses to be with us except to be with us in our brokenness."

Her moment of clarity came when friends had to carry her to street level when an outside church elevator stopped working six feet from the ground. She thought, "we need theology for this," and then realized we already have one. In a 10-minute video presentation archived on Faith & Leadership, an online offering of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School, Rev. Wimbush shares defining moments in her life, and expresses the theology of brokenness as she has experienced it and learned to understand it. "When I preside at the Eucharist and I look out at my congregation, what I'm seeing are broken people," she says, who "in their humanness and their preoccupations and their worries and their pains are, just as I am, broken bodies, broken people walking toward wholeness." This presentation is suitable for a sermon reflection or as a conversation prompt for older children, teenagers, and adults. Also see our feature article, "From Accessibility to Inclusion," which explores the theme of fully incorporating persons with disabilities into worship community life.

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