The Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church is celebrating Disability Awareness Sunday on October 9, 2022. Here are some prayers that I wrote for anyone who would like to celebrate a Disability Awareness Sunday in their own worship setting!
Introduction: What is Disability Awareness Sunday and Why is it important?
The Susquehanna Conference will recognize Disability Awareness Sunday on October 9, 2022! As United Methodists, we believe that the church is not complete until everyone, with and without disabilities, is able to attend, belong, and fully participate in the life of the church.
People with disabilities are one of the largest minority groups in the world. The CDC estimates that approximately one in four people have some type of disability. Older people are also more likely to develop difficulties with mobility, seeing, and hearing. As our congregations continue to age, we will have many church members who develop some form of disability. Sadly, some studies show that people with disabilities are less likely to attend church regularly because of inaccessible buildings, lack of transportation, or being made to feel unwelcome. Disability Awareness Sunday helps to raise awareness about these issues and empowers people with disabilities to share their gifts for ministry.
Please help us recognize this special day by taking a special offering. You can donate online at https://umcdmc.org or through the Advance #3021054. This special offering supports the work of the Disability Ministries Committee of the United Methodist Church and also helps us provide grants to local congregations.
Here are some prayers you can use in your own church setting to recognize Disability Awareness Sunday! To help you with your worship planning, these prayers are based on this year’s lectionary texts for October 9, 2022: Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C.
Call to Worship (inspired by Psalm 66)
Leader: Make a joyful noise to God! Sing glory to the One who made all things!
People: How awesome are the deeds of the Great Creator! We are all God’s children. We all have unique gifts and graces.
Leader: On this Disability Awareness Sunday, we especially give thanks for the gifts and graces for the disability community. May we learn from one another
People: Holy Spirit, please enter our hearts and our time of worship. Help us to be a truly inclusive and welcoming place for all God’s children. Let all the earth worship the Lord in love and unity!
Opening Prayer (Inspired by Psalm 111)
Leader: O Holy One, you are the King of All Creation. Your praise endures forever. You created all things. The works of Your hands are faithful, just, glorious and beautiful. We pray this day that You would help us to welcome the diverse gifts and abilities that You have given to Your people.
Response: May we welcome everyone into the body of Christ. Help us to show mercy to those who are in need and not cast judgement upon the downtrodden. May we thirst for righteousness when we see the marginalized being mistreated. May Your house be an accessible and inclusive home for all people. Amen.
Litany for Disability Awareness Sunday (Inspired by 2 Timothy 2:8-15)
Leader: O God, we remember Jesus, who was raised from the dead. Death could not claim him and the grave could not hold him. The word of God cannot be chained.
People: We give thanks that true freedom comes through faith in Jesus Christ. We pray this day for everyone, everywhere, who is held in bondage. We pray for those who are bound by the chains of addiction, depression, and mental health struggles. We pray for anyone is held captive by a world that does not recognize the worth of their basic humanity.
Leader: May we see the face of Christ reflected back at us whenever we encounter another human being. Please preserve us from the sins of ableism, racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
People: O God, please help us not to judge others on the basis of ability, appearance, or socioeconomic status. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Make us truly wise. Help us not to see as the world sees but instead to look with the eyes of our hearts. Amen.
Prayer of Confession (Inspired by Luke 17:11-19)
O God, we confess that we have sinned. We have all made mistakes. We have all fallen short. There have been times in all of our lives when we have forgotten to give thanks for the blessing of salvation. Wash us, O God, and make us clean.
People: We confess that we are tempted to judge the nine people with leprosy who did not return and give thanks for their healing. But we are more like them than we would like to admit. Have mercy on us, Lord Jesus.
Leader: O God, help us to turn back toward You. May we fall at the feet of Christ and give thanks for Your mercy, compassion, and grace.
People: Forgive us for the times we have judged others because they were different from us. Have mercy on us for the times we have been quick to judge others based on their appearance, ability level, age, gender, or skin color. Help us to welcome all of those who society views as “different” into the family of God. Amen.
Words of Assurance and Forgiveness
Hear these words of assurance and forgiveness: Jesus said, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you (Luke 17:19, CSB).” God forgives and saves all of those who earnestly repent and turn to Jesus. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
Response: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven! Thanks be to God! Amen.
Benediction for Disability Awareness Sunday (inspired by Luke 17:11-19)
Siblings in Christ: Let us give thanks and rejoice! God loves all of God’s children! Everyone is an important part of the body of Christ.
When Jesus healed the ten people with leprosy, they were restored to their community. They were no longer ritually unclean. They could once more rejoin their friends and family. They were welcomed home.
For many people, the worst part of having a disability is the feeling of being isolated and excluded. They are many hungry hearts out there with disabilities, both visible and invisible, who yearn to be welcomed home.
Let us welcome all of God’s children into the body of Christ. May we, through the power of the holy Spirit, make our places and our spaces warm, welcoming, and inclusive. May we tear down the walls that divide us and build bridges that unite us.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
A bulletin Insert for Susquehanna Conference Disability Awareness Sunday can be found at the following link/ by clicking the download button: