God of the Oppressed

As a church, we’ve chosen to describe ourselves as “theologically orthodox and socially progressive.” We love Jesus and the Bible, and are committed to sacramental worship through the Anglican liturgy. At the same time, we see our calling as a church as grounded in active ministry to the poor and marginalized among and around us.

Some have described this is as a “tension.” How, they seem to ask, can we as Christians be both traditional and socially progressive? This Sunday, we’re going to answer that question. More specifically, we’re going to challenge the assumption that traditional orthodoxy and social progress are somehow at odds. In fact, we’re going to see how traditional Christianity provides the basis for exactly the kind of social progress that’s central to us as a church.

We’ll begin by looking at how that idea–that orthodoxy and social justice are somehow at odds–was first articulated, and then secured in late modernity. Then, we’ll see how this idea, far from being theological orthodoxy, is a kind of theological heresy. All of this will culminate in a renewed vision of Jesus Christ, as a God who lives with, for, and as one of the “oppressed.”

This study on the “God of the Oppressed” is part of our current series, “Christ for Today.” All this year, we’ve been asking Jesus’ question: “Who Do You Say that I Am?” This is the question Jesus asks his disciples at Caesarea Philippi, in the midst of conflicting reports about who he was and what he had come to do (Cf. Matthew 16.15). From the beginning, it seems. we’ve tried to make Christ in our own image, re-casting his identity and mission as mirror images of who we are and what we want from the world. Yet, time and time again, in the 21st century as much as in the 1st century, Jesus presses us to dig deeper. He asks us not to settle for convenient or superficial interpretations of his person and work, and challenges us to hear his voice–authentic and true.

As I’ve said a few times throughout this year, I truly believe that when the church has gotten off course, it’s because we’ve misunderstood Jesus. Conversely, if we can get Jesus right, I’m confident we will get everything else right as well. So, we’ve aimed to take this first year together to wrestle with Jesus’ question, and set the foundation for the years to come. During this particular series, we are looking at 20th and 21st century voices who have offered new interpretations of who Jesus is, including a few who have emerged right here in New York City.

The remaining schedule for this series is below. Look forward to exploring these images of Christ together!

May 10th–God of the Oppressed
May 17th–White Women’s Christ, Black Women’s Jesus
May 24th–Christ, the Heart of Creation

On Sunday mornings, prior to our 10 AM livestream worship, parishioner Jen Knight is leading a contemplative prayer group via Zoom. This is a rich time of slowing down, stilling our hearts, and attending to the loving presence of God that surrounds us. For those looking for new ways to connect with God and one another, we invite you to join.

To participate in the Sunday 9am Contemplative prayer group via Zoom, register here: https://forms.gle/w1SxVuwHMtF4C4xY7

For those participating in this class with our Scholar-in-Residence, the Rev. Dr. Courtney Bryant, we are back on this week for session three–where we will consider how to “combat complicity.”

Thus far, this has been a dynamic series. And, in light of the events from this past week, this week’s session is sure to be no different. Look forward to seeing you there!

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