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In Spirit and Truth seeks to encourage discussion and deeper consideration of representation issues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is hoped entries will prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly and mid council levels.  

This blog will occasionally feature content written by one of the fifteen members of the General Assembly Committee on Representation, who are teaching and ruling elders from across the country, as well as links and articles of particular interest. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, reviewing and recommending are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from sister committees on representation at lower councils throughout the church.  

Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
 
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Coordinator for Representation, Inclusiveness and Ruling Elder Training in the Office of the General Assembly.  She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.

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November 22, 2013

Something's Missing in Job's Life

by Héctor Rivera-Vélez, GACOR Vice Moderator, Synod of the Sun

I did not know that it was not there. For over 35 years of reading the Bible I thought it was sepia tones, bible in forground and left, right hand holding it stretched across the right handed pagethere. And so when I looked for it I could not find it. The Book of Job spoke about his life, about his health, about his conversations with God, and about all the things he received and developed afterwards.

We can read in Job 42: 12-17 (NIV)

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.

The passage does not say that Job was healed. Job's skin disease was a disability that he lived with the rest of his life. It shocked me to discover this.

We often assume that Job was physically restored. However, God worked with him. God provided Job more than what he had before that series of catastrophic events occurred to him. However we do not have any evidence that God healed him. It is as if my  understanding (and the common reading of this passage) of Job’s restoration and blessing obscured my perception of his disability.

In an image from the Brick Testament, a webpage with Bible stories enacted in Lego toys.  This image is of Job 42:13 the restoration of job's family with 7 sons and 3 daughters.  They are standing, arranged on the steps of a grand house, in rows, facing the imagined camera. Job is still afflicted by the skin disease and appears green and scaly (in the upper left).
A rare exception to the rule appears in the depiction of the story in The Brick Testament (www.thebricktestament.com, which portrays Bible stories in Legos). In their representation of Job 42:13, Job (upper left) retains his skin disorder after restoration but has a larger family than before his affliction

This has led me to thinking—a dangerous enterprise sometimes—and asking myself how many times I ignore other people's disabilities.

I recognize that I tend to rather look at images of physical wellness surrounding the people of God. And when I ask the question of whether God would send an angel with a disability? The answer is always yes! When I look back in my life story I must witness that God has done so many times. God's most powerful messages come through unexpected means and sometimes the means is the message as in the case of the baby called Jesus. Many of God's servants live with disabilities and they are called by God to serve the people of God with their multiplicity of gifts and talents.

Maybe I have been ignoring God's messages that come through people that are somewhat different than I expect. Can I call that blindness, deafness, a crippling disease of my spirit a disability? No! God can heal me of such mild diseases! Am I alone in this misunderstanding?  No. For centuries this misreading has held sway. Erasing the restored and blessed Job, who lives with disability from our stories, creates holes in our community. Something is missing in all of our lives. The courageous voices of those who dare to make room and provide what's needed for our disabled leaders in our denomination to function within our churches.  


Héctor wants to thank Dr. Jeremy Schipper for allowing him to see the text from a different perspective.  

Tags: bible interpretation, brick testament, disability, gacor, healing, jeremy schipper, job, representation, restoration, story


  1. There are four Disability Consultants available to congregations and councils in the PCUSA. They are wonderful resources for any number of concerns and are particularly attuned to congregational settings. Their contact information can be found here: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/phewa/disability-concerns-consultants/ Disability Packets for Congregations – are produced annually to resource Inclusion Sunday and can be found here: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/phewa/presbyterians-disability-concerns/ One tool is a Congregational Audit (available here: http://www.pcusa.org/resource/congregational-audit-disability-accessibility-incl/). It is an excellent resource for self-study. As one leader testified, “One church that used the study discovered that even though they have accessible restrooms and an elevator, there was more they needed to do to welcome people with disabilities into full participation in the church - including leadership positions. They sponsored two adult education series on disability issues and organized the church's first Disability Concerns Committee.” I hope that helps you on your journey with COM. Thank you for your important service and ministry! - Molly Casteel, Coordinator for Representation, Inclusiveness and Ruling Elder Training

    by Molly Casteel

    April 24, 2014

  2. I am looking for materials about the barriers for the disability parishers in the church. I am a member of the COM. anu suggestions.

    by may lam emerick

    April 23, 2014

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