Below is an excerpt from Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice written by Onleilove Chika Alston.
In 2012, I prayed, studied and fasted, and came to the conviction that I should keep Sabbath. Scripture and my culture confirmed it. What is interesting is that when I began to keep Sabbath, I was more productive and powerful as a faith-based community organizer. My allergies began to end, and my work moved from being faith based to faith rooted—springing from the grace I experienced resting in the presence of Abba. As a daughter of slaves, Sabbath was a revolutionary act. Many Christians sadly think Sabbath is bondage to the “law.” But this theological belief came from white men who never had to toil under the burden of slavery. Sabbath was created because our Creator did not give us an identity rooted in what we produce but an identity rooted in who we were created to be: bearers of Yahweh’s image. . . .
Sabbath is a sign that the Creator sanctifies us—not our work or what we can produce. We are not saved, valuable, or significant because of what we do. Yes, justice work is commanded by scripture, needed and important, BUT so is rest so that we can heal and connect with The Most High God and each other. Sabbath is a divine pause that allows us to be refreshed by the ruach (spirit) to impact our world not through striving and busyness but through the transforming power of justice, love and compassion. Long before Christian missionaries came to Africa, my ancestors knew this.
For me Sabbath is an act of resistance against white supremacy and capitalism that has connected me in a deeper way to The Creator, my neighbor and myself.
Onleilove Chika Alston is a preacher, writer and founder of the teaching ministry Prophetic Whirlwind: Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny, which is dedicated to uncovering the African roots of the scripture and the true biblical identity of women. She is one of the contributors to Rally: Communal Prayers for Lovers of Jesus and Justice (Fresh Air Books, August 2020).
Rally is a prayer book for faith communities searching for words to respond to the injustices around them. Order your copy today.
For a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism, click here.
I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”