After our daughter was born two months prematurely, we held a six-week vigil in the neonatal intensive care unit of the old Milwaukee County Hospital. And long after she was brought home, neurological testing continued on her because of suspicions about seizures, epilepsy, hyperactivity, autism. As she grew older and the initial fears subsided a bit, we got to know our daughter and love her just the way she was. And now when the assessments and diagnoses came, I found myself confused; I could no longer tell if what was being said was a description of some kind of disorder and disability or if it was quite simply a description of who our little girl was. In other words, I could no longer tell the difference between what medical professionals described as pathological and what, to me, was precious.
This Sunday, we hear from two of our church families about their experiences of children with Down Syndrome. We will hear about the challenges they have faced. You will also hear about how those challenges, those special needs, led to special blessings for these families and for our church and community.
Trena Tremblay writes to parents of children with special challenges in her book; You Will Dream New Dreams. She writes, “Never, ever forget that you have been chosen for this very special journey. It matters not what the challenges may be; what matters is that you open your heart to this child. For as difficult as things may get, you will discover that this soul, wrapped in the precious little package, has much to give and volumes to teach you about yourself—if you are willing to learn.”
What others may label as disorder or disability, Trena Tremblay asks us to see as a precious gift from God, with much to teach us if we are willing. That challenge and that opportunity doesn’t just come to us as families but also comes to us as the family of God, a Body of Christ that rejoices in the variety of gifts and blessings that God bestows on us through each other. We praise God for the presence of each one of us in this faith family. May we be given eyes to see and hearts to love the precious gifts that are the people who surround us in this church.
Your friend and fellow minister,
Rev. Steve Savides