Nonesuch is a video I do each Friday reflecting on the sermon text for Sunday. Below is the written version with the video below. There is some difference in the two, so read the reflection and then listen to it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about coming to terms with my Aspergers and possible ADHD ever since I was let go from my tentmaking job two months ago. When you have neurological differences that can make it hard to work and participate in society, you start to wonder what in the world can you contribute to the betterment of the world?
There are reasons that someone like me might wonder if they matter in the world and that’s because of how the world treats them. People make fun of you. Or they get mad at you. And they give up on you. You live with this sense of shame and start to think you are a failure. Someone who is always going to fail at what they do and disappoint everyone around you.
This coming Sunday I’m preaching one of my favorite texts, Romans 12:1-8. In my sermon, I focused more on verse one, but the rest of the passage has some good stuff. I want to read verses 4-8:
4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Paul is telling the church that everyone in the community has different gifts. There isn’t a gift that is more important than another. All of the gifts of the community are part of the body of Christ.
I think that means a lot. Maybe Paul didn’t have any idea about persons with disabilities when he wrote this passage, but I think it has a lot to say about the modern church. Because it tells us that everyone is part of the body of Christ, even those people who have autism or ADHD or dyslexia. The world sees them as failures, but God sees them as people created with value.
One of the things I never knew about Vice President Joe Biden is that he stutters. You wouldn’t have known that because he has trained himself to manage his stuttering. When he was young, a teacher at school made fun of his stutter. The teacher happened to be a nun. It was his mother that brought him back to school and tore the nun a new one over her behavior. Because his mother stood up for him, he was able to help a young boy named Brayden Harrington who also stutters. Biden met the 13-year-old in New Hampshire and gave him some pointers in how to deal with his stuttering. Last night, Brayden spoke on national television about his visit. He did it stutters and all. It was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen. We saw a kid that realized that he mattered. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t “normal,” he had gifts to share.
If you are part of a congregation, know that there are probably people in your congregation who stutter or have some sort of neurodiversity like autism or ADHD. Let them know in some way that they matter. Help them participate in church life. Be patient with them as they express their gifts. Always, always let them know that they are loved by you and most importantly, by God. You need to do that because in their lives, they are usually told that they don’t matter. They need to know that they can contribute to the body of Christ because they are part of the body of Christ.
So, to Brayden and everyone who has been told they don’t fit or have made to feel ashamed of who they are, know that you are loved by God and you have something to contribute to the mission of God.
Below is the video version of this post.