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The Queerness of Disability: The Julian Way

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The room held little light. Everyone sat in a circle waiting on something to be revealed. There were expectant thoughts buzzing inside the crania of the gathered. Squeaking along in his motorized wheelchair, Rev. Justin Hancock rolled into the center of our circle and commanded our attention. In a room full of people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, Rev. Hancock talked about having cerebral palsy and what it looks like to celebrate the self no matter what. In those beautiful moments of intersectionality, we learned more deeply what it looks like to live into exactly who and what God created us to be. In our world of crippling normativity, Rev. Hancock helped us to understand that the queerest way of being is to celebrate the self no matter what. Through Rev. Hancock’s refusal to see his body as a problem, we heard a word from God illustrated in the flesh that night. We all walked out of the room a little bit queerer than we came in.

 

Regardless of the normative circumstances of death and destruction going on all around her in the 14th Century, Julian of Norwich believed in the power of God to partner with us in liberating the self through love. In discovering the love that God showed us in creating us exactly as we are, we can believe that we are perfectly made in God’s image and can begin to live into such perfection. For many years, Rev. Hancock and his wife Lisa have partnered together to dream about what it would look like to make space for disabled families to see their families as made in God’s image and together learn to live into that perfection. Tired of the pressure to pass their family off as normal and desiring to offer hospitality within the fragmented and isolated experience of the disabled community, Rev. Hancock and Lisa started to plan for the creation of a community with an identity based on the celebration of disability. In their estimation, disability should be treated as a natural part of God’s creation and never as a stigmatizing label. Believing that the time is right for a radical expression of love and community, the Hancocks recently announced their intention to found an intentional Christian community and missional worship epicenter for disabled families called the Julian Way. Much like the love of God, the authenticity and beauty of the experiment is overwhelming.

 

Rev. Justin Hancock made a lasting impression on many of the people he spoke to on that special night. One person asked her partner to marry her. One person came out as transgender. One person made a career change. One person made peace with their mental illness. One person kissed his boyfriend for the first time. Inspired by the message of being who you are no matter what, person after person made the decision to be the queer that God created them to be in the first place. Rev. Justin and Lisa Hancock are queer pioneers of self-exploration, compassion, mercy and grace. I pray that you will join them at http://thejulianway.org

 

Amen.

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