Outlier at Grace

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”  (Luke 8:43-48, NRSV)

I love the story of Jesus. Ever since I began to hear Jesus stories as a child I’ve been fascinated by who he was (is), what he did, and how the story ends. My parents were the first ones that shared the Jesus story with me and when I was five years old, they gifted me my first real bible and I began to read the stories for myself. The church too told me the stories, but soon I began to see that at times the church did not live into the Jesus that it proclaimed.

As a child the inconsistencies were small: I would read about Jesus healing people and I wondered if anyone was being healed; about Jesus breaking the sabbath to help others and I wondered why we would spend most of our sabbath in church and with each other instead of with those that might need help; about Jesus talking to people that he should not be talking to and I wondered why my congregation discouraged hanging around with “unbelievers.”

As an adult the differences began to become larger. Jesus was always getting into trouble, while we seemed to play it safe. Jesus came to focus on the needs of the sick, while we were often so quick to pretend all is healthy and well. Jesus “so loved the world,” while we seemed to constantly think about the hereafter. Jesus is God made flesh, and we seem to have serious issues with bodies.

Yes, bodies! Our enfleshedness seems to be a constant source of shame, fear, and  confusion. There is no better example than the church’s silence around sexuality. This powerful gift, a part of our being made in God’s image, became the source of centuries-long battles in the church. Today we call them “culture wars,” but they are actually a mirror to humanity’s penchant for making idols of beautiful things, of making commodity out of gifts, and of making embodiment a tool for oppression.

No wonder the church struggles with sexual deviance.

Spirituality + Shame + Secrets = Sin and Death. This is NOT the Gospel of Jesus.

It is time to reclaim the beauty, freedom, and healing of Jesus Christ in the places where many have found shame, bondage, and harm!

Outlier @ Grace seeks to begin a conversation. We want to be a community of faith that is willing to deal with the difficult issues of life, including the issues that give the church a bad name. In The Book of Forgiving, Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu tell us that the first step to reconciliation is to tell the story, and the second step is to name the harm.

Outlier seeks to do both of these things. Through this weekend-long event, we will hear the stories told by individuals who have been hurt by the church and who have been hurt by others through sexual assault and violence. We will then name the harm that has been done, both at the hands of individuals wielding power, and at the hands of the church, who has all too often been complicit in these actions.

However, this weekend is only the beginning, for the church has much work to do in making amends for the role it has historically played in perpetuating secrecy, sexual abuse, and shame. Like the woman with the flow of blood, there are many women and men who are seeking the healing power of Jesus. It is my hope as a religious leader that Grace Community, in partnership with other faith communities, can begin to create a space for Outliers to find not just healing, but also reconciliation, restoration, safety, and voice.

I am thankful that our Bishop, Cynthia Fierro Harvey, will lead us in worship for this important weekend, preaching at all three services and presiding over the communion table. She will be accompanied by Pastor Jessica Lowe and Deacon Sarah Shoup, for an all-female-led worship experience.

My hope is that this weekend will continue to model our commitment to a ministry through, alongside, and for ALL people. Our commitment to a gospel where “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Our commitment to viewing women as full partners in mission and ministry alongside men, in both the marketplace and in the home, in both leadership and in service.

Friends, Grace Community is not only a community of believers, it is a community of those who follow in the way of Jesus, a community who has been called to be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus in the world. A community who has been called to stand up as Outliers alongside so many others.

I can’t wait to see you this weekend.

Friday, October 5

OUTLIER Artist Talk with Mollie Corbett and Panel Discussion: 6pm-8pm

OUTLIER Exhibit Hours: 4pm-8pm

 

Saturday, October 6

OUTLIER #metoo/#faithtoo Readings: 7pm-9pm

OUTLIER Exhibit Hours: 10am-9pm

 

Sunday, October 7

Exclusive OUTLIER Pilot Episode Documentary Viewing: 10am-11am

OUTLIER Exhibit Hours: 8:00am-1pm

You can register here.

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