Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A time for ... -- Diane Mettam

This Lenten season seems to be my time in the wilderness.  I have been plagued with one illness after another, and I wonder why.  I have been weary, and I have felt empty.  It seems each time I have felt a little better, and taken a step forward, it seems I have been pushed two steps back. 

For a time I was disconsolate.  Hopeless.  Why, I wondered, had God brought me to this place?  Why had I prepared for the ministry just to be cast aside?  Why did volunteering two mornings in a row at the school result in a week of illness?  Why did I have to be so fragile? 

The answer came to me Sunday morning as I was sharing my frustration with a friend, one who readily understands because she lives with lupus.  After we commiserated over our loss of energy and direction, I picked up my hymnal and saw the red ribbon that marks a special place in that book, No. 607, A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition.  I purposely put the ribbon marker there because I prayed that prayer with my mentor when I started my candidacy, and I pray it every so often to remind myself of my commitment to God:

“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

So I am just where God put me, idle for the time, and everything is as it should be.  It is my time to sit and be silent, perhaps to listen.  I have been here before, and good things have come from it.  Good things will come again.  I just have to remember that and be glad. 

Perhaps this is happening to you, too, as it is to my friend.  Perhaps this time of Lent is a time for all of us to sit, and to listen. 

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!  Psalm 27:14

Dear Comforter God:  How hard it is to wait.  We want to know what is to come, and we want to know now!  We want to be busy for you, and we find it so hard to be still.  Please help us to be patient.  Grant us the peace and the patience to wait upon you, to listen for your still, small voice.  Amen.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What's Normal? -- Diane Mettam

Ive been thinking a lot about our bodies lately, about the human condition.  Partly because there is a new gym, Planet Fitness, opening with advertising stressing one neednt be embarrassed to go there because its not that kind of gym.  You know, the kind with the buff bodies in the sexy gym clothes showing off the perfectly sculpted, muscular bodies.  Partly its the abundance of surgically enhanced bodies parading across the movie and television screens lately. 

I worry about people who obsess over their bodies, much to the detriment of their minds and souls.  Yes our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit”  (1 Corinthians 6:19), but they are not to be worshiped.  They are to be cared for and maintained to the best of our abilities.  Some of our temples are not as perfectas others in the eye of the world.  But they are perfect in the eyes of their maker.  And just like all living things, we age and we die.  That is the normal process.  And it got me thinking.

What if disabledwere normal?  What if were supposed to go to Heaven bruised and battered and broken, and those of us with disabilities were ahead of the game?  What if showing up at Heavens door looking pretty much the way we did when we reached maturity was so abnormal that God didnt know us?  "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31).

I was very touched by an article this past week about Jean Vanier winning the Templeton Prize.  A similar article appeared in my hometown paper, which pleased me.  Vanier has created communities where those with and without developmental disabilities live side by side.  He says those with intellectual disabilities have spiritual lessons and gifts to teach our success- and power-driven world:

            They are essentially people of the heart, he said. When they meet others they do not have a hidden agenda for power or for success. Their cry, their fundamental cry, is for a relationship, a meeting heart to heart. It is this meeting that awakens them, opens them up to life, and calls them forth to love in great simplicity, freedom and openness."

            "When those ingrained in a culture of winning and of individual success really meet them, and enter into friendship with them, something amazing and wonderful happens. They too are opened up to love and even to God. They are changed at a very deep level. They are transformed and become more fundamentally human.[1]

And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3)

Each time I looked at the photo of the young man with M. Vanier, I saw a face that knew God, that was a link to God.  What if this is how we need to approach God?  Less worldly, more childlike, more vulnerable? 

It is interesting that we refer to M. Vaniers friends as intellectually disabled, but perhaps it is we who are disabled by an overabundance of worldly knowledge and a lack of trust in heavenly grace. 

Dear Creator God, We thank you that we are part of your marvelous creation.  We yearn to be close to you, to hear you when you call us, to be ready to serve you when and where you need us.  We ache to understand how you can use us in our present condition, but trust that You know the directions you have mapped for our lives, and will guide our way, today and every day.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

[1]Timothy C. Morgan, Christianity Today, 3/11/2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Prudence -- Diane Mettam

Perhaps its because Im sick yet again.  Perhaps it was the fact my husbands medicine is causing more heart episodes, not less.  Maybe it was because I had to make room in  the office file cabinet for this years receipts.  But I started thinking about final arrangements.  I made a list of insurance policies and what benefits are payable, and Im making a list of my and my husbands retirement funds and how to access them, and were preparing advance directives for medical care. 

While this may sound ghoulish, I think these are things we all need to think about, and for which we must prepare.  The Bible speaks often of prudence, of being thoughtful and careful, of seeking wise choices.  The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Proverbs 14:8.

It turned out my husband was having the same thoughts, and it was the first time we have ever sat down and talked about those things seriously.  But it felt good to clear the air, to take stock of where we are, and to know where we might be when it comes time to retire. 

As people with disabilities, I think its particularly important.  I have no idea when or how Social Security kicks me off of SSDI and into retirement.  Ill need to talk to someone to find out, and see what changes that entails.  I cant find anything on their site, and it wont give me a projected retirement benefit because Im already receiving disability benefits. 

We have no long term care insurance (nursing home or in-home care) because Im uninsurable.  And now that my husband has heart issues, we both might be in that group.  But my folks wound up in an assisted living facility.  Our local senior resource agency  is working on a village to keep seniors in their homes, and I hope it will be in place by the time we need it, but will we be able to pay for care to stay in our home? 

These are tough, unpleasant questions, but theyre things with which we need to grapple.  Most of us arent fortunate to have family close by.  My son lives 12 hours away, and his career as a wildland firefighter means hes gone for half the year.  My daughter and son-in-law live 1300 miles away and have taken on the responsibility of raising his young niece and nephew as well as their own two sons.  Its up to us to find and maintain a support system.  Its never to soon to start. 

Prayer Requests:

     The fourth biannual That All May Worship Conference will take place on March 20th in Virginia Beach. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors*, 10 FREE registrations are available for either persons with disabilities, or their caregivers, or anyone working (employed or volunteer) in their faith communitys disability program/ministry.  Please contact Karen Jackson at the Faith Inclusion Network,, if you would like to attend.  More information is available here:

     UMAMD (United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities) will be meeting at Lovers Lane UMC in Dallas July 31st and August 31st.  Special worship service will be celebrated by Eric Pridmore and Evy MacDonald on Sunday, August 2nd.  A call for papers and presentations is issued.  Requested are theological reflections on life as ministers with disabilities.  Presentations can include music, pottery, painting, dance, poetry, vestments, paraments, and other works of art.  We are also interested in chapters for a second volume of Speaking Out.  For more information and downloadable forms to register for the meeting, please go to:

     For clergy members with hidden disabilities who are pushed into retirement when appointments dont offer needed and requested accommodations, and that hearts be opened to doing a better job of making accommodations so that people called to the ministry can serve out their career doing what they were called to do.

      That hearts will be opened and touched so that changes will begin in local churches.

Dear Lord God, We thank you that so many doors are opening for this ministry.  Please open hearts and minds as well so that more and more of your children will feel welcome in your churches.  Thank you for all the people and organizations, from many faiths and traditions, who are working for this cause.  We ask that You continue to inspire and to strengthen them.  Keep us ever mindful of the blessings with which you bestow us, and help us to use them prudently.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen

That All May Worship Sponsors
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, Community Direct Services, Hoy Construction Inc., St. Marys Home for Disabled Children, Lynn Haven United Methodist Church, Elim Christian Services, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Cornerstone Sunday School of the Virginia Beach United Methodist Church, Jesus Cares Ministries, Jewish Family Services, Koehler Books Publishing, Lutheran Services in America Disability Network, Lynnhaven United Methodist Women, Rosemarie Scotti Hughes, Ph.D., Support Services of Virginia, The Chosen Ministry, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Virginia Beach Christian Church, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church,