A woman who was disabled, I think she has Cerebral Palsy, struggled to ask a question from the mic. She said she read “a crucified God” in 1975 and for the first time in her life, she actually owned her identity as the image of God and not something less than a full human being. She asked him, “How to people with disabilities who are both a burden and a blessing to the church find their life in the church.”
He said his older brother was a severely disabled person and they grew up together. He died under the Hitler regime when euthanasia began in Germany, early on in the war. He has lived with this question all of his life. He said, “A church without disabled people is a disabled church. Bring those with disabilities into the congregation because they are all images of Jesus Christ.” The imago dei speaks of a relationship to God, not as a qualification (attribute) of the human being. God’s relationship with human is where the human is a resonance, image of God (we reflect back and “image”). This cannot be destroyed either my disability or by sin. The other relationship is concerns our similarity and response to God. This is a life in faith and responsibility and a conformity of our life to the will of God. the relationship to God is in everybody, so we must respect God in every person we meet. God created all men equal, so we must respect the image of God in every person. Even in the murderer and the terrorist…it’s difficult I know, but it’s not a question of our judgment, but a question of respecting God’s presence.”
It was an incredible moment.