The church was getting quiet and serious as things turned toward communion-time with bread and wine. Suddenly a little boy in a wheelchair began singing, “Jesus Loves Me,” and while one woman brightened and smiled thinking, “Wow–he gets it! This is what the communion meal is all about!”, the father of the boy embarrassingly pushed his son’s wheelchair quickly out of the service…
Next month in Chelsea we are beginning a new worship service on Sunday evenings which is designed especially for people who find that they and their family members don’t always swim in the same direction as the mainstream. Jesus didn’t either. Here’s a quick description of the new service called Parables:
Parables is a no-shushing, 40-minute worship service designed for all abilities; especially for families who would like a progressive faith community where people on the margins, because of intellectual and developmental disabilities, are empowered to share their gifts.
For example, a non-verbal child with autism who likes to walk a lot while flapping his hands, a young adult with Tourette’s Syndrome who would like to participate as a speaker, or an elder with dementia will all find welcome and belonging here.
The setting is fragrance-free, hands-on music-friendly, and the communion bread is gluten-free. There are sensory headphones and therapy dog available throughout the evening, and the order of service follows a similar flow each week for those who appreciate predictable structure.
The service is immediately followed by a community meal with gluten-free option. Beginning June 25th, 5pm and subsequent 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. Chelsea First Congregational Church, 121 E. Middle St. Chelsea Mi.
The idea is that there is at least a little part of each of us that doesn’t always swim in the same direction as most others around us. We all know that experience of feeling like a “misfit” on some level. Maybe it’s because you’re going through a personal crisis, or because you’re ashamed of your family member in jail, or afraid for your workers who are undocumented, or that it’s just hard to be around people at work every day who seem to see the world very differently than you.
Parables are stories Jesus told that turn our understanding of the world upside-down. People on the margins, for whatever reason, are also “parables,” because they turn our understanding of what it means to be fully human upside-down. If you’re interested in gathering in a welcoming place where you won’t be shushed for your differences, come join us.