None of us likes to be on the outside, looking in. It can make us feel left out, uninvited, and unwanted. Each one of us desires to belong, and be part of an authentic community, where we can find meaning and value.

 

In the worship series, The Outsiders, which begins on July 2, and runs through July 23, 2017, we’ll look at several different types of outsiders in our world today, and how labeling affects each group. We’ll also look at how the gospel invites us to see and treat outsiders in a profoundly different way. Being aware of how we create outsiders within our own faith community may also help us find a different, more grace-filled response to them as we seek to be in relationship as brothers and sisters of Christ.

 

On Family Sunday, July 2, 2017, Senior Pastor Dave Summers will preach on the parable of the Great Banquet (see Luke 14:15-24), and introduce the series with “Who’s In, Who’s Out.” In the parable, the master invites a number of high-ranking guests, but they all have excuses about why they can’t attend. Then the master asks his servants to go out and invite everyone — the poor, the disenfranchised, the disabled. He wants to fill his table and lift up those who are often seen as outcasts. What does it mean for us in today’s society? Are we part of the privileged class or part of the least and lost? Who are we called to invite to God’s table?

 

On Sunday, July 9, 2017, Pastor Dave will preach on how people with disabilities often feel left out. How do we, as an inclusive church, welcome those, regardless of their abilities? Hear about an emerging ministry at PVUMC, which seeks to care for the disabled. The scripture is from Mark 7.

 

On Sunday, July 16, Youth Ministries Director Christopher Wurpts delivers the message, which focuses on the mentally ill and John 4:43-54. In Mark 5:1-43, we read about a man who had “an unclean spirit.” Mental illness sometimes was seen as demon possession, and there are still more questions than answers around modern-day mental illnesses. No medical test can accurately diagnose a mental illness, and often, we are afraid of those who display signs of mental illness. Jesus responded with love and compassion, and so should we. Read some statistics about mental illness and the stigma that surrounds members of this community.

 

On Sunday, July 23, Pastor Dave focuses on Luke 4 for a sermon on “The Poor”: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” (Luke 4:18-19) Rev. Brenda Smith preaches at the Ignite service, and we may hear from an Open Table graduate who will speak about how he went from homelessness to wholeness.

 

Finally, on Sunday, July 30, we celebrate “Better Together Sunday” as we focus on I Corinthians 12:12-13 and verse 26. We’ll also invite the congregation to meet in small groups to discuss what keeps us up at night as a way to support each other.

 

Our vision to have a “love that crosses all barriers and embraces all people” gives us direction to be bold and all-embracing in our love for all people, even, or especially, those on the outside. We profess that “all are welcome,” while we struggle with our own human prejudices and frailty. Indeed, “all fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

 

The hope is that when we follow the Risen Christ, and walk with him, we meet others on the road who want to be a part of a faithful spiritual community. We continue to build a church drawing on the lessons, experience and hope expressed by Jesus and the apostles.

 

Click here to see more upcoming sermons, as well as who is preaching through July.

 

 

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