I recently did a funeral for a member of our church named Dianne. I didn’t know Dianne well, as her health didn’t allow her to attend much since I became the pastor. I did know that she had Down Syndrome.
It was an interesting funeral in a number of ways. One was that it was birthday-themed. What?! Dianne considered every day to be her birthday. So we honoured that by having balloons, birthday cake and even sing happy birthday. It really made it a time of celebration.
The other thing that really stood out were the stories. There was not much talk of the difficulties of having Down Syndrome, even though I’m sure there were some. The overwhelming focus was on the positive impact she had on both her family and her church. She was known to spread joy and love every where she went.
Now you might say, “Of course they said that, that was her funeral.” I have done enough funerals to know when people are searching for something nice to say and when it is genuine. Dianne truly enriched the people around her.
It made me sad to think that there are some who wish to eliminate Down Syndrome through abortion. Richard Dawkins once claimed that it was immoral to not abort a baby with Down Syndrome. His attitude is not unique.
The truth is that people like Dianne are not burdens but are treasures. I know that our church would have been much poorer for not having known Dianne.
Don’t just tolerate people with disabilities, love and embrace them and be prepared to be blessed.