Something like that happened at Morton Church in 2005. Assisted by a few professionals, the church members completely gutted the two-story wing of the building, totally reconfigured it, and added an addition with a new kitchen and wheelchair accessible restrooms. The whole facility is now on one level. It was a major step towards accessibility, and we are still amazed and grateful.
Here is the sermon I preached in November 2005 when we dedicated the newly-renovated facility. An accessible building is only half the story. We must also let God remodel us as a people.
Making A Way
A Sermon on Mark 2:1-12
Dedication of a Building and of a People
The friends in our gospel lesson today were filled with caring, and filled with hope. Oh, if only their friend with paralysis could see Jesus’ kind eyes, and hear his gracious, forgiving voice and receive the touch of Jesus’ healing hands! Somehow, they were going to get him to Jesus!
The man’s needs were many, spiritual as well as physical. He knew that, at best, most people around him pitied him. In that day almost everybody believed that disability had to be the result of somebody’s sin, whether it was the man’s own sin, or that of his family. It is not fun to be pitied. It is not fun to have to let people help you. But if the man wanted to go anywhere, that’s what he had to do. He was fortunate to have friends of faith. He must have had faith and hope, too, at least enough to put himself into his friends’ hands, and let them give it a try and carry him to Jesus.
“Uh oh,” the friends said as they drew near the house where Jesus was speaking. The place was packed, wall-to-wall people. “Excuse us. This friend of ours really needs to see Jesus. He really needs access. Could you all please make a way for us to get through?”
You’d think the crowd would make a way for someone in obvious need, but they didn’t. I don’t know why. Maybe they just didn’t think it was important. Maybe they just didn’t want to go to the trouble of rearranging themselves. The man could wait until Jesus had finished speaking. He could see Jesus later. The man and his friends consulted with one another. What should they do? Wait? Come back another day?
I’ll always remember our first visit to Morton in 1990, our first interview. John and I came in the side door of the church building, and I remember thinking, “oh, how lovely this is!” And then we went up to the fellowship hall. It was beautiful. I loved it! I had never seen a knotty pine paneled fellowship hall before. But it was upstairs. I wondered, “What about those stairs? How do you help people up the stairs?”