What is inclusion?

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Inclusion is not Exclusion

 

Inclusion is the future.

Inclusion is belonging to one race, the human race.
Inclusion is a basic human right.
Inclusion is struggling to figure out how to to live with one one another.

Inclusion is not something you do to someone or for someone.
It is something we do
with one another.
Inclusion is not a person.
“The inclusion kid.”
Not a program.
Not an adjective.
Not an add on.
Inclusion is a noun.

Inclusion is not something we do a little of.
It either is or isn’t.
It is not a fad.
Not a bandwagon.
It is a trend, similar to democracy.
“With liberty and justice for all”
All means all.
No buts about it!

Inclusion is the opposite of exclusion.
Inclusion is not exclusion.

Inclusion is fair play, common sense, common decency, hard work.

Inclusion is elegant in its simplicity and, like love, awesome in its complexity.

Inclusion is a battle cry, a parent’s cry, and child’s cry to be welcomed, embraced,
cherished, prized, loved as a gift, as a wonder, a treasure.

Inclusion is not spending more money on building more prisons, mental hospitals,
nursing homes, group homes, but investing in real homes, real life, real people, all people.

Inclusion is
Pain
Struggle
Joy
Tears
Grief
Mourning
Celebration!

Inclusion is the ship that isn’t even built yet.
It is a new ship.
One we build together.


Inclusion is like a good jazz combo,
like an orchestra disciplined to play melody in harmony.
Inclusion is a kaleidoscope of diversity.
Bits of colour, sound, shapes and sizes.

Inclusion is the future.

Marsha Forest, December 1994

 

found on: http://www.allfie.org.uk/pages06/about/inclusion.html

Building up community is like weaving a basket

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  A while ago God gave me an image of church needing to be like weaving a basket.

 The vertical ‘spokes’ which create the initial framework of the basket are like church structures.  They are essential but not enough.  They give the outline shape of the basket but of themselves do not create a basket that can be used. They also have gaps between them, so just like this it is not a strong vessel. This includes the hierarchy/leadership of a church.  It is vital as the backbone of the church but without the weaving is insufficient.

 It is the weaving in and out, under and over the spokes which then creates the vessel which creates the basket shape, the true structure of the basket. Only when the weaving is in place can a basket be used for carrying things.  There is a big emphasis these days on church leadership and training up leaders and this is important. However the ‘ordinary’ folk have as essential role to play in developing a church community as the leaders. It is the weaving on a basket which holds the spokes in place. The spokes on dependent on the weaving not the other way around.

 The basket maker weaves the horizontal strands very close together so that they touch.  This gives it strength and durability.  From a distance you don’t see the individual strands, you only see the finished object.  Those of us ‘ordinary’ folk in church have a role to play in being woven in and out of one another’s lives.  We are not to rely on the leadership for it all to happen but look for our places.  Often we look for our role to play in church life, yet we may have multiple roles to play, living as in a Venn Diagram in overlapping circles being involved in several activities and touching different lives in each.

 At home I have a log basket.  It is starting to fray at the top where some strands have come loose and broken off. Because it is looking a bit tatty, I keep saying that when it falls apart I will get a new one but the overall structure is so strong that it is still going and I am nowhere nearer to getting a new one.  BUT the bits on the top edges have snapped off.  Because they were at the edge they were most vulnerable to coming loose.  Folk who are at the centre of a community have plenty of strong bonds to keep them there, but those who are at the edges (for whatever reason and there are many) are in danger of drifting loose and being snapped off. Therefore, we need to take special care of them.

Basket weaving is very labour intensive.  We live in a world full of labour saving devices and we are forever on the look out for ways to take shortcuts and make our lives easier.  But building up community and relationships is labour intensive and takes time.  The front cover of our church newsletter this week included this section:

 Pastor Evans … gave me this time.  I remember long hours sitting and talking in his study surrounded by books.  Over those early years there were a number of people who took me seriously, and through those conversations I came out wanting to love God more and serve Him better.

 Building up community takes time. It will include lots of interactions and conversations for which you cannot ‘justify’ the inordinate amount of time taken, and in our world of striving to manage every minute of our day, much time will seem to be wasted. Yet looking at Jesus’ life you hardly hold him up as someone who managed his time well. A 1st C time management consultant would have mapped out a far more efficient route which would have covered a lot more ground, taking in far more ‘large’ and ‘important’ places and people in the three years that Jesus spent on his ministry. But Jesus listened to his Father because he ‘wasted’ hours in prayer, so he knew where to go today and who needed he needed to meet with.

 So how do we weave ourselves in and out of each others lives?

  The One Another Scriptures

love one another (John 13:35 – this command comes 16 times)
be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10)
live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)
build up one another (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)
be like-minded towards one another (Romans 15:5)
accept one another (Romans 15:7)
admonish one another (Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16)
care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
forgive one another (Ephesians 4:2, 32; Colossians 3:13)
be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13)
be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19)
submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 5:5)
consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3)
look to the interests of one another (Philippians 2:4)
bear with one another (Colossians 3:13)
teach one another (Colossians 3:16)
comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13)
stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
employ the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of one another (1 Peter 4:10)
clothe yourselves with humility towards one another (1 Peter 5:5)
pray for one another (James 5:16) confess our faults to one another (James 5:16)
Be honest with one another (Col. 3:9)

Why?

We are to do these things because we belong to one another (Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:25).

 

Doubt: when the clouds roll in

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Tonight I watched a film called Doubt . It begins with a priest telling this story:

 A cargo ship sank one night. It caught fire and went down and only this one sailor survived. He found a life boat, rigged a sail, and being of a nautical discipline turned his eyes to the heavens and read the stars. He set a course for his home and exhausted, fell asleep. Clouds rolled in, and for the next twenty nights he could no longer see the stars. He thought he was on course but there was no way to be certain. As the days rolled on and the sailor wasted away he began to have doubts. Had he set his course right, was he still going on towards home or horribly lost and doomed to a terrible death? There was no way to know. The message of the constellations: had he imagined it because of his desperate circumstances or had he seen truth once and now had to hold onto it without further reassurance?

 This week for me, the clouds have rolled in. There have been occasional breaks in the clouds where I get a glimpse of the stars but most of the it feels like dense fog has descended. All that I thought was secure in my theology and psychology has been blown away. Issues I thought were resolved have come back to haunt me and I know longer am certain about what I believe about God. Worst of all, my biggest question, the one about how can a God of love allow all this suffering has risen its head again to the point of consuming me.

 The question I am faced with is what do I do? How do I proceed?

 Once I read that in times of crisis when faith flees, the thing to do is to act as if your faith is still there until it returns.

 I trust that this is true.

To watch the film clip click here and start at 4mins 20 secs.

Emotional angst: on further reflection…

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Thinking on, my quandry WAS solved this morning…

 As I poured out my heart, the person next to me, not only listened to me but affirmed me and what I said. She really listened and heard me and heard the deep cries of my heart beyond what I was able to put into words. And then she did something truly amazing. She affirmed what I felt and said. She didn’t rationalise or explain their behaviour so that I could see the other persons point of view. Instead she affirmed my deep feelings of hurt and rejection. She acknowledged how hurt I was and affirmed that it was ok to feel this way.

 To me this was a revolution in ‘Christian’ care. Normally after pouring out my heart I am given a verse to remember or told how I need to forgive the other person and lots of other advice but never told that my feelings are ‘normal’ or ‘ok’. So I end up believing that my beliefs and feelings are wrong. Hence, I had stopped sharing them with other Christians and ended up suppressing them instead.

 What is interesting is that after my friend heard me today and allowed me to just speak, I then, of my own volition, acknowledged that the hurt wasn’t intentional and I was able to forgive and let go. All it needed was to be heard and my feelings believed and affirmed, indeed valued.

 Perhaps when reading Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:31 (NLT):

 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour.

 we need to focus on the words ‘get rid’. I have always focused on the fact that rage, anger, etc are bad things to have and felt guilty for having them. Today as I read them now, I realise that that is this is NOT what Paul is saying here. He recognises that these feelings will creep in but the healthy ‘Christian’ thing to do is to ‘get rid of’ them.

 And how do we do that?

 By first of all acknowledging that they are there. We are not perfect, we do all sin. However if as in 1 John 1:9 (NIV):

 we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

 Just reaching this stage has been a huge journey for me. It took me years to truly believe that when I confessed my sins to God he forgave me there and then. I used to hang around waiting for the words of recrimination and rebuke but instead there was silence. Finally the penny dropped. The silence was God’s way of saying that it was done with and dealt there. There was no further word on the matter.

 However that isn’t enough. We also need to dig down and discover what the pain is behind all those horrible feelings and thoughts. Today I was lucky. There was someone there who helped me to find and admit to them but that is a new experience in my life. I have searched and yearned for someone, a friend, that I could be this honest with. Seeing a counsellor, a professional is all very well but they are paid to listen to you. I wanted someone to listen just because they cared.

 As I write this I realise how important this is in our world and our churches. Those of us who are sensitive, emotional people ARE marginalised yet we have so much to offer to a hurting world. Unfortunately, because we aren’t tough, strong, resilient people we are easily discouraged and give up. And that is how I felt this morning; that my attempts to use my gifts and skills within the church had been dismissed. In fact that I had been dismissed. Yet the following verse has also been rattling around in my head:

 Jesus urges us to keep going even when we feel like giving up. (Luke 5:5-6). However he does not expect us to go it alone. It is not about inner strength of our own. Indeed in our weakness is his strength. Today he sent someone alongside to encourage me to keep going when I felt like giving up. It is at moments like this that we become the body of Christ, when we support one another, not when we stand up strong on our own.

Emotional angst: initial outburst

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This week I have reached the emotional wreck stage, subsequent to my dad’s death. I have to admit it isn’t grieving for my dad that is the main issue but the other stuff that has been lurking there beneath the surface for some time, not causing enough trouble so that I have to deal with it. That is until now.

 And so this morning it all came out, the hurt, the pain, the feelings of rejection, the anger, the resentment, the bitterness, the jealousy. It was all there. All those nasty, ‘not good, holy Christian’ feelings. Feelings that I had unwittingly suppressed because I believed that ‘good’ Christians don’t behave like this.

 I have read a lot about our EQ – Emotional Quotient (Intelligence) and how as Christians we should behave and deal in healthy ways with our feelings. Which is fine if you are not an intensely emotional person, fighting feelings of anger and lust and resentment. Today I realised that I have suppressed my feelings because they don’t fit in with the ‘general accepted handbook’ of how Christians should express their deep felt emotions. There is a lot of teaching on the Battle of the Mind and how our beliefs affect our emotions and it is all good stuff. But it doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t teach you HOW to deal with your ‘sinful’ feelings of resentment and malice and bitterness. The Bible is clear that we need to get rid of them (Ephesians 4:31) but it doesn’t say how.

 And that is the crunch for many us. It isn’t enough to tell us what we are doing wrong, we also need to know how to make things right. And repeating mantras and Bible verses isn’t enough on its own. It may well be the beginning but it certainly isn’t the whole answer.

 And it hurts. It hurts because I want to be rid of my negative, destructive feelings. I want to forgive those who have hurt me, not only in my head but also in my heart. But I don’t know how. And at the moment I feel that I would give anything to have the answer to this quandry.

How do you measure impact?

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 This time last week was my dad’s funeral. As you can imagine it was a very moving experience but the thing that most amazed me of all was how many people were there. My dad was a quiet, introverted man whose idea of fun was going over the allotment come rain or shine, or hours in the attic building and rebuilding his model railway (though lately he had discovered the joys of eBay). My mum is the gregarious one of the two. She is always out and about either lunching with old school friends, on some committee or planning her next exotic holiday abroad. So much so, that if I wish to talk to her then I have to almost make an appointment. My dad it seemed didn’t have much of a social life – watching football with a neighbour and the weekly game of bridge with his cronies.

 So I was astounded when 130 people turned up last week to pay their last respects.

 As I got to talking to these people, many of whom I had never met before, I was struck by how my dad had made a lasting impact on their lives in seemingly little ways: a bag of runner beans there, a tip about how to grow onions there, hints on how to improve at bridge.

 What also transpired that this gentle man had a very dedicated work ethic and words like integrity and honesty, which you don’t hear much of today, were used.

 My dad was not a particulary hands on dad nor given to displays of affection, but that day I realised that he has left me something incredibly valuable: a role model of decency and how to make a difference in small ways. This is a big lesson for me. At the moment I know that I have this desperate need to feel that my life is worth something and that when it comes to be my turn to leave this earth that I would have made some positive impact somewhere. Seeing the need globally with daily disasters on our TV screens it is hard not to feel ineffective. But hearing about my dad I came to think that maybe what I had previously rated as greatness and impact were misguided. Jesus talked about giving out of a servant heart and in secret. So maybe sharing allotment tips and doing your best at work day in day out are as valuable as ‘the big things’ if done with the right heart.

  All my life I have been throwing small pebbles into a large pond and I’ve no idea whether I made even the slightest ripple.  I don’t need to worry about that.  My responsibility was the effort.
-Martha Gellhorn.

 

When life gets me down…

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 I  AM THANKFUL:

FOR THE WIFE
WHO SAYS IT’S HOT DOGS TONIGHT,
BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME,
AND NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.

FOR THE HUSBAND
WHO IS ON THE SOFA
BEING A COUCH POTATO,
BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME
AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.

FOR THE TEENAGER
WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES
BECAUSE
IT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME,
NOT ON THE STREETS.

FOR THE TAXES I PAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM EMPLOYED .

FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.

FOR THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT

FOR MY SHADOW THAT WATCHES ME WORK
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM
OUT IN THE SUNSHINE

FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING,
WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING,
AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME

FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING
I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE IT MEANS WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

FOR THE PARKING SPOT
I FIND AT THE FAR END OF THE PARKING LOT
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM CAPABLE OF WALKING
AND I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH TRANSPORTATION .

FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM WARM.

FOR THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.

FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES
AT THE END OF THE DAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.

FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES OFF
IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM ALIVE.

AND I AM THANKFUL:
FOR THE crazy people I work with
BECAUSE they make work interesting and fun!

AND FINALLY, FOR TOO MUCH E-MAIL
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE
THINKING OF ME.

(from an email sent to me this morning when I was feeling mauldin’ and moany)