And God said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in bondage. I have heard them crying out because of their oppressors, and I know about their suffering.
So I have come down to rescue them. To bring them out of that place and into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—of abundant life and healing.”
—Of Exodus 3
God of Rescue,
We want more than life oppressed. We want chains broken. Idols toppled. Those chains which we’ve made for each other and those idols we’ve made within ourselves. Do you hear our cries now as you heard the Israelites? Speak words of rescue to us. And just as you met them with a promise of provision and healing, would you make spaces for us that are marked by very real and physical resources. Grant us physical spaces of true rest and restoration. Spaces where we can un-tense our shoulders and unclench our jaws. Space to breathe deeply. Spaces that allow us to remember that we are much more than what the systems and principalities of this world render us as. A place where our personhood is not reduced to our oppression, but where we can live full and nurtured lives in dignity and peace. Take us where rest is.
Cole Arthur Riley is a writer, speaker, and liturgist. She currently serves as the Content and Spiritual Formation Manager for a Center for Christian Studies at Cornell University called Chesterton House. In her role, she produces and curates written content for spiritual formation and leads care and spiritual support for staff and students. While working for an Episcopal church, she became enamored with both Anglican and Catholic liturgical traditions, finding beauty in written prayer as well as the embodied experience of Eucharist and prayer services.
Cole is the creator and writer of Black Liturgies—a project seeking to integrate the truths of Black dignity, lament, rage, justice, and rest into written prayers. You can follow the project on Instagram @blackliturgies.
Reprinted from Black Liturgies, August 30. Copyright © 2020 by Cole Arthur Riley. Used by permission of the author. www.instagram.com/blackliturgies.
For a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism, we invite you to visit UpperRoom.org/OvercomingRacism.