Jesus was a person of color who was born under an oppressive Roman regime, and when Jesus launched his ministry at age 30, he started by declaring freedom for the captives!  This message of liberation and hope has animated the church in poor and marginalized communities all over the world.  This Advent season, we are continuing our series on race with a conversation about liberation theology and reading the Christmas story through the eyes of the oppressed.

This was our fourth gathering in this series and featured Deacon Turbo Qualls, from St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Christian Church, as our guest teacher.  He is a Case Worker and Program Manager at Reconciliation Services, an organization centered on both the economic and spiritual counseling of individuals and their families in the Troost corridor.  He is also a professional artist, and has studied iconography.  He is currently President of the Kansas City chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black.

Reading the Christian narratives of Advent and Christmas through the lens of liberation theology seems natural given the messages of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, and in Jesus’ life especially.  But so many of us in the Christian tradition lean more towards recreating humorous depictions of the nativity with children than challenging our own assumptions about what the Advent message means for the marginalized.  A big part of our mission at The Open Table is to engage in this prophetic work, even when it makes us uncomfortable, so we were blessed to have Deacon Turbo Qualls with us to help us reflect.  He shared examples from theologian Rev. Dr. James Cone who believed Christianity must deal with black oppression or it isn’t Christian theology at all.  We are called to value justice, not just in lip service but in our actions, which will include some kind of sacrifice.  The end we are working towards is reconciliation with God and all God’s people, and creation itself.

If you weren’t able to make it to this gathering, you can check out the audio recording here, and check out the corresponding resources below.  We will continue this conversation on Christmas Eve at Pilgrim Chapel in midtown KC, at 5:00 p.m., and you’re welcome to come!



The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone

Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman

Food for Thought: “A Concise History of Liberation Theology,” article by Leonardo and Clodovis Boff

Prayer: “Table Blessing” by Jan Richardson.  We discovered it in her “Walking the Way of Hope” Women’s Christmas Retreat 2017 booklet (free!) along with many other meditations, pieces of art, and prayers–but you can also find this prayer in her book, In Wisdom’s Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season, © Jan Richardson. Orlando, FL: Wanton Gospeller Press, 2011.

To your table
you bid us come.
You have set the places,
you have poured the wine,
and there is always room,
you say,
for one more.

And so we come.
From the streets
and from the alleys
we come.

From the deserts
and from the hills
we come.

From the ravages of poverty
and from the palaces of privilege
we come.

We are bloodied with our wars,
we are wearied with our wounds,
we carry our dead within us,
and we reckon with their ghosts.

We hold the seeds of healing,
we dream of a new creation,
we know the things
that make for peace,
and we struggle
to give them wings.

And yet, to your table
we come.
Hungering for your bread,
we come;
thirsting for your wine,
we come;
singing your song
in every language,
speaking your name
in every tongue,
in conflict and in communion,
in discord and in desire,
we come,
O God of Wisdom,
we come.




If you would like to contribute to the cost of our shared meals and conversations, we invite you to donate by texting the word “give” to 816-656-3310.


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318 E 55th St. KCMO 64113

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