This coming weekend, Sunderland will host a small gathering of people interested in, or committed to, the theology of liberation. Anthony Reddie will be there encouraging us to rethink how we understand Black Theology, Rosie Venner will be there to look at the issues of feminism and development after her recent trip to Bolivia. But most importantly, people and practitioners will be there who have struggled against poverty and injustice, and in that struggle have rediscovered the God of Life.
There is no other God. We have a God who wants us to have life and life in abundance. God so loved the world she sent a child into our midst, born into poverty, living life on the margin of empire. A child who grew so wise and so brave that those with power despised him and plotted to destroy all he stood for.
Jesus took on the powers of his time, and at first they believed that they had snuffed out his light, they hung him on a wooden cross and believed that brutality and violence would have the final say.
How wrong they were. 2000 years later we walk tall with a living God who still defies those who exercise injustice and cruelty. We believe in a theology, a walk with God, that liberates us from our own oppressions - that frees us from the death of consumerism, from the death of violence, from the death that comes with patriarchy and each hierarchy that crucifies those below.
We believe in a theology that challenges all abuses of power and instead brings us closer to each other as human beings. We believe in a theology that listens to the cry of the poor, recognising that it is our own cry. We believe in a theology that values creation, that protects the earth and all living upon it. We believe in a theology where our own hands must get dirty if we are to change the systems that crush the many and enrich the few.
In Sunderland this weekend you can meet a few of those who have found the joy of the Holy Spirit at work in the most desperate of places. We will share our stories of despair and of hope. We will listen to each other in love, encourage each other, and challenge each other to be the people God created us to be.
If you can't join us in Sunderland this weekend, then join us in spirit by renewing your commitment to the God of equality and justice, the God of hope and of healing. This is the God of life. This is the Theology of Liberation.