Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Zacchaeus and the Gift of Work - Reflection on #SITD Dallas Day 2

Chris Horst’s guest post “The Surprising Gift of Work” for Amy Joe Becker’s Christianity Today blog appeared on my Facebook timeline this morning.  In the article, Chris talks of his brother with an intellectual disability, who has been able to fulfill his God given vocation through the gift of work, achieving basic human dignity, purchasing a house, and becoming an essential member of his community.

Coincidentally, the story appeared on my laptop screen during the middle of Dr. Amos Yong’s disability privileged reading of the well-known Zacchaeus passage at the Summer Institute for Theology and Disability.  Dr. Yong reminded us that in antiquity, those who were described by this particular Greek word translated as “short” (pathological dwarfism) had a difficult time finding their place in the community.  Furthermore, the Levitical laws (Lev. 21) prohibited those with dwarfism from coming into the full tabernacling of God.  Dr. Yong suggested that his opportunities for employment may have been extremely limited – to the point that he was willing to opt for a despised position as an agent of an oppressive foreign government.  The beauty of this passage is that Jesus welcomed Zacchaeus as a friend – choosing to tabernacle at his house. (read Dr. Amos Yong’s full article here)

Employment continues to be a critical issue for persons with disability and remains one of the highest concerns of family caregivers. In Kansas, Families Together has made a strong state wide effort through the FEAT events (Family Employment Awareness Training).  Yesterday, I met Dr. Penny Seay from the Texas Center for Disabilities, who told me of a pilot program Putting Faith to Work funded by the Kessler Foundation in several states (TN, KY, TX, MN) where networks of faith communities were being mobilized to help persons with disabilities to find work and fulfill their vocational calling.  The church has a unique role in which it can help provide sustainable hope and dignity through a robust theology of work.  The Acton Institute’s recent emphasis on a reshaping calling, vocation, and work is a reminder of our roles and responsibilities in God’s world; My hope is that those discussions include perspectives of those traditionally not allowed to carry out their calling.

#SITD #TheologyDisability