I spoke at Lisburn Causeway (Prospects Ministry) Group tonight. I realised how much I miss the group when I don’t see them – I hadn’t been since Christmas – my wife’s piano playing is more in demand than my sketchboard messages so she goes most weeks.
I can honestly say that I love speaking in this context more than all my lecturing (sorry students), preaching (sorry churches), podcasting (sorry listeners) or seminar speaking (sorry one and all). My friends with varying degrees of intellectual disability are the most sincere audience I ever speak to. I feel no need for pretension and fear no misjudgement and the release is sweet. I love the sincerity of their responsiveness, including S who interrupted me twice (only twice this time) to say “And there’s something else … God loves us”. A better sermon in three words than most I have preached with many more.
The truth is that every time I speak to this group I learn more than anyone else in the room. I am reminded of unconditional love – God’s accepting embrace takes on flesh in their embraces. I see their community too and I am challenged – there is a strong sense of interdependence (the more able instinctively help the less able) and inclusion (every member is simply one of us irrespective of ability or achievement). Of course there are imperfections and occasional tensions, but I’ve never seen a group that comes closer to embodying the essential values of church than Causeway.
I could write more about the lessons I learn through this fellowship and perhaps I will sometime, but for now I am humbled and blessed by my brothers and sisters who greeted me as I walked in with beaming smiles. I couldn’t have been more encouraged than I was tonight.