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Autism Speaks


Kids teach us lots of things, don’t they.  My oldest once challenged Ruth 1:17.  Ruth told Naomi, “Where you go, I will go.  Where you stay, I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God, my God.”  Ethan looked at me and said, “Dad, I don’t want your God to be my God.  I want your God to be everybody’s God.”  Children amaze us with their questions, insights, observations, and perspective.  I’m sure you have stories and things that your children or grandchildren have said that speak to your heart.  Jesus reprimanded the disciples by saying, “Let the children come to me…”

So, I thought I’d share the story of a child—Beth—as she found her way into Jesus’ lap.  Beth is autistic.  And she is a blessing.  As with many autistic children, Beth is often misunderstood, the recipient of strange looks, and has a depth to her that requires one to see past her unique perspective on the world and her mannerisms.  Because the truth is, I learn a lot from Beth—and I bet she can teach you something too.

For instance, Beth taught me the meaning of a parents love.  A couple of weeks ago we had a 1st Communion Workshop.  And, being the kind and generous host, we made sure all of the 1st communicants and their parents had seats at the table.  But, Beth—in her beauty—decided she would learn more by sitting under the table than at it.  And so, Beth climbed under the table to fill out her worksheet.  And so did Mom.  You can’t turn off the role of Mom.  And this is especially the case for parents of Autistic and other uniquely gifted children.  Thanks Beth for reminding me of this fact and Jenifer for being willing to crawl under the table with your girl—among all the other things you do for your children.

On Sunday, Beth received communion for the first time.  She came to the railing with her family, we prayed for her, and then Beth held the body of Christ in her hands for the very first time.  Mom and Dad helped her guide it into her mouth.  Then she held the cup in her hand.  With her eyes closed and mouth open the sweet taste of forgiveness brushed past her lips.  It was a precious moment.  And it was broken by a perfect moment.  Enjoying that first sip of Jesus’ blood, Beth sighed a sound of refreshment.  “AHHHHHHHHHHHH.”  In that sigh of relief and fulfillment was a deeper theology than I find in most books.  Thanks, Beth, for reminding me why I love my calling to be pastor.

Then, with the sigh of pure relief and enjoyment still ringing in my soul, I learned another lesson from Beth.  She reached up and gave her mom a high five.  It was awesome.  A celebration of all that Christ has done and a celebration that Beth experienced it.  What would it look like if more of our folks walked away from the communion rail like Beth did?  Sighing from being fulfilled and celebrating that they were a part of what God was doing.  Isn’t this what discipleship is about?

The national advocacy organization for autism is Autism Speaks.  It works towards spreading awareness about autism and to inform, support, and share the stories of those families effected by it.  Autism does speak.  And the voice of Beth continues to resonate in my soul—and for the many who witnessed and were lucky enough to hear Beth on Sunday.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Joan E. permalink
    8February2012 10:19

    Thank you for the blessing of this story. I have an autistic teenage nephew who also shares in the Lord’s Supper with his church family. When he went through communion instruction years ago, we wondered if it would mean anything to him. Your posting strengthens my conviction that it means EVERYTHING to him.

  2. 8February2012 19:56

    This is such an awesome story! I have the privilege of teaching autistic children. I’ve been blessed over and over again. I love the description of Beth’s experience of celebration. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  3. Dick McGuire permalink
    9February2012 12:26

    Beautiful. ” Other Grandpa” wishes he could have been there. We can learn a lot by stepping back and taking a deep breath.

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