Disability Ministries Committee of the United Methodist Church

Disability Awareness Sunday

A Model Service

Observed annually on a date determined by the Annual Conference, Disability Awareness Sunday celebrates the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities and calls for the Church and society to full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community. An offering may be received to promote the work of creating architectural and attitudinal accessibility in local hurches.

As you plan your Disability Awareness Sunday keep in mind that church leaders and clergy need to set an example both in their interpersonal interactions and in the choice of words, themes and lessons.

Call to Worship
Prayer of Confession
Old Testament Reading
The Children's Message
The Gospel Lesson
The Message
The Benediction and Sending Forth
Benediction Response

Call to Worship

LEADER: Lord, how awesome it is that we can gather here today and loudly sing praises to your name, and know that we are standing in your presence!

PEOPLE: Lord, I can't stand. I use a wheelchair and there is no place for my chair.

LEADER: It really is great, Lord, that we are able to hear you speak to us through the proclamation of the word this morning!

PEOPLE: I'm sorry, God. I didn't hear what was said.

LEADER: And, Lord, it's so fantastic to be able to read your Word along with the pastor, and to recite the creeds, and litanies.

PEOPLE: This morning my vision is dim, God. I cannot read the bulletin.

LEADER: Lord, we really feel blessed that we understand everything that is happening around us in the church in this hour.

PEOPLE: God, why do I learn so much slower than others, and must feel, week after week, that I do not really belong here?

ALL: Open us, O God. Make us accessible to your Spirit, and accessible to all your people.

Adapted from Rev. Dave Wade

*Opening Hymn
He Leadeth Me — Hymn 128

Prayer of Confession

Almighty and creating God; we come before you today as people who are separated from one another by fear, prejudice, and ignorance. By our language, actions and facilities we declare insiders and outsiders in our lives and in our church. Forgive us and create in us the vision of opening our hearts, minds, and doors as wide as the love of God, so that no one is left outside. Help us to reach beyond ourselves to discover the joy of community. Give us the patience to discover that all people have gifts and abilities to share with our community of faith. We pray in Jesus name. Amen

Adapted from Southeastern United Methodist Agency for Rehabilitation (SEMAR) 2004

The Words of Assurance and Pardon

Old Testament Reading
Isaiah 53:1-5

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised and we held him of no account. 4Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

Prayers and Concerns

Presentation of Offerings

The Anthem

*The Doxology

The Children's Message

Things to think about:
Children are curious. Encourage them to ask questions. Give them honest answers. More often than not people with disabilities would rather be asked about their disability than have a curious child stare at them and wonder.
Have a child with a disability help with the children's message. Not as the center of attention, but as an expert on the subject.
Ask a child with a disability what they wish people without disabilities knew about them or their disability.
Ask the sibling of a child with a disability what they wish the world knew about their brother or sister.

The Hymn of Preparation
Here I am, Lord — Hymn 593

The Gospel Lesson
Mark 2: 3-11 — Through the roof

3Then some people* came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7'Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?' 8 At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, 'Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Stand up and take your mat and walk?" 10But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'—he said to the paralytic— 11'I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.'

The Message

Things to think about:
When planning and writing your sermon, challenge yourself to place an emphasis on the four people who lifted the paralytic man to the roof and then lower him inside. These four people provide a perfect example of appropriate social interaction and early solutions to structural barriers.
Portray individuals with disabilities as people with gifts, talents and abilities. Try to move away from the general attitude that people with disabilities need sympathy and healing.

*The Affirmation of Faith

*Hymn of Dedication
Joyful Joyful, We Adore Thee — Hymn 89

*The Benediction and Sending Forth
On Eagles Wings — Hymn 143

*Benediction Response

As we seek to have open hearts, open minds and open doors,
help us to move beyond opening the door to welcome only those who can climb the steps to enter.
Help us to move beyond opening our hearts to love only those who look like us.
And help us to move beyond opening our minds to accept only those who think like us.
Help us to create an environment, in our church and in our community, where all are welcome.In your name we pray.

Adapted from Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Binford, III

The Postlude

*The Congregation will stand if they are able and if they so choose.

The Hymn selections can be found in The United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
The New Testament and Gospel readings are from the New Revised Standard Version
Special Thanks to Dr. David Gray and Rev. Eric Pridmore for their input and expertise.

This worship resource was prepared by Jennifer Yound for UMCOR Health