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I’ve noted before (for instance, here and here) about how ableist metaphors and assumptions find their way into what churches say, sing, and affirm in their liturgies. Such language reflects what Amos Yong calls ‘normate biases’–”the unexamined prejudices that non-disabled people have toward disabilities and toward people that have them.”

This sung response is part of our current liturgy at Church of the Servant, where our family attends:

Let the weak say 'I am strong', let the poor say 'I am rich', let the blind say I can see what the Lord has done in me'.

The metaphor of ‘seeing’ as a metaphor for ‘understanding’ or ‘appreciating’ reflects a normate bias that is found throughout the Scriptures. Nevertheless, I do like how this response connects being blind with being weak and being poor. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being either weak or poor, and thus by extension nothing intrinsically wrong with being blind. The problem is with the way that the larger community (including the Christian community) treats those who are weak, poor, or disabled.

Furthermore, other parts of the liturgy reminded us that the last–the culturally disadvantaged and devalued–shall be first. The good news of the Gospel is that the social harms done by poverty, oppression, and ableism shall not remain in the coming Kingdom. But until then, we are called, like Christ, to have a preferential option to the poor, oppressed, and disabled. For they shall be first in the Kingdom of God.

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