An Ash Wednesday reflection by the Rev. Letiah Fraser of Kansas City, Missouri, leads off “Disabling Lent: An Anti-Ableist Lenten Devotional” published by Unbound: An Interactive Journal on Christian Social Justice. (Photo courtesy of Unbound)
Unbound centering people with disabilities during Lent
LEXINGTON, Kentucky, February 19, 2021 — Unbound: An Interactive Journal on Christian Social Justice has launched a new tradition of amplifying the voices of under-heard communities with its Lenten and Advent devotionals.
Last year, devotions from the LGBTQIA+ community were highlighted in a Lenten devotional in collaboration with More Light Presbyterians. This past Advent season, the voices of people who are Black and identify as women and non-binary were featured, and a consistent thread through both were perspectives on familiar scriptures and stories from people in marginalized communities.
“Disabling Lent: An Anti-Ableist Lenten Devotional” features devotions from people in the disabled community and allies every Sunday in Lent and every day during Holy Week, including Palm Sunday and Easter. There are text and audio versions of each devotion. The series started Ash Wednesday with a confession-as-reflection from Rev. Letiah Fraser of Kansas City, Missouri.
“In what ways are people with disabilities a part of the liturgy of the Church, your church?” Fraser wrote. “In what ways have you left us out? Now that you are aware, what are you going to practically do about it? This kind of confession that is awakened is ongoing and it is long, hard work. It may take the whole forty-day Lenten journey, or more realistically, it may take a lifetime.”
As the Season of Lent begins, Presbyterian News Service asked Unbound Managing Editor the Rev. Lee Catoe about the devotional and what readers can look forward to on this journey.
Q: Tell us about the idea of an anti-ableist devotional.
A: I think the amount of liturgy and resources out there that center the experiences of the disabled community and disability theology is lacking tremendously. We have to begin expanding on our idea of inclusion for all types of embodiment and I think this is a way to begin that expansion.
Q: What do you hope people will take away from spending time with these devotions during Lent?
A: It is my hope that people will experience Lent differently and grasp onto the way in which our disabled siblings experience the divine. Lent is a time of repentance, inward looking, and turning back toward God, and this devotional moves us into that turning. Lent is also full of healing narratives that must be unpacked because they have really been used to oppress our siblings who are disabled. Getting a different narrative is much needed.
Q: What kind of feedback did you receive from last year’s Advent and Lent devotionals that informed or encouraged how you have approached this one?
A: I think the Queer Lent series showed the need for the centering of experiences that are often either marginalized or tokenized which did receive both good and pretty terrible reactions from the church and abroad. The womanist Advent series opened us up to another experience that expanded our view of scripture and theology, and I think many people were drawn to that as our audience has really grown because of it. This devotional was inspired by the others in that it centers the voices of a community often forgotten and ignored, but a community that has given so much to faith. Our siblings with disabilities not only should be centered but they should be leading us and feel empowered to do so.