The Departed, Discarded Ones
By: Ekemini Uwan
“There is a woman in Somalia
Scraping for pearls on the roadside
There's a force stronger than nature
Keeps her will alive
This is how she's dying
She's dying to survive
Don't know what she's made of
I would like to be that brave.”
Advent means “arrival,” an “appearing” or “coming” into a place, and we have been reflecting on the glory of Christ’s first Advent, which began with His incarnation. We, children of God, join our eager anticipation along with all the saints worldwide who await the Second Advent of King Jesus, when He will consummate His kingdom.
As we wait, the groans of our souls resonate with the groans of creation; together we yearn for redemption (Rom. 8:22, 23). Sorrowful yet always rejoicing. This is the disposition to which we have been called, sistas. The tension of the “already, not yet” is palpable for me during this Advent season.
As I reflect with joy about Christ’s Advent, I can’t help but to think about its inverse, the departed, discarded ones. Precious children of the African Diaspora who won’t see this advent because their lives were cut off due to anti-Black oppression and state-sanctioned violence. Chinedu Okobi was a thirty-six year old Nigerian-American man, who was a father, a poet, a son, a brother, and an uncle. He was tased to death by sheriff deputies in San Mateo, California, as he shouted, “What have I done?” He was in the midst of a mental health crisis. Instead of getting the care he desperately needed, he was tased like a rabid animal.
My soul cries out!
Never forget about these precious souls, twenty-six Nigerian girls between the ages of 14-18 left their native land seeking asylum in Europe through Libya. Young girls boarded those rubber dinghies with hopes and dreams of a better life stuffed in their invisible knapsacks—only to have their dreams dashed the moment they were wrangled into a sex trafficking ring. Although their fate was grim, the audacity of hope carried them as they traversed the troubled waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The journey proved too much for them, as it had for so many before them: the waters engulfed them, snuffing out their lives along with their dreams. Twenty-six lifeless, nameless Black bodies of image-bearers, buried in a foreign land, far away from home and no family members to claim them.
My soul cries out!
Who will weep for these Black Lives discarded like the refuse of the world?
I know the One who has wept over the deaths of these precious ones, Jesus Christ.
Read: John 11:32-36
There was a time when death did not loom over our heads, but the entrance of sin changed the course of human history (Gen. 3), and now we must face this last enemy (1 Cor. 15:26). This is the world into which Jesus entered, to do away with sin and death, in order to bring it to its consummate end (Rev. 21:4).
He is moved in spirit and greatly troubled. This Scripture is not describing some fleeting emotion. Quite the contrary, Jesus is deeply sorrowful and angry at the evil of death. Jesus, full of sorrow and anger, was moved internally and physically. Compassion has legs, and it moves toward those who are suffering. This is a beautiful picture of Christ’s divinity and humanity—His transcendence, and His immanence. He asked where they laid him, because He is God, and the only One who can raise Lazarus from the dead.
His humanity is overlaid upon the backdrop of His divinity, and its radiance is more glorious than a shooting star sweeping across the onyx sky. The One who had the power to keep Lazarus from the pangs of death is now crying in the wake of His friend’s departure and the suffering of those left behind. Now we await Christ’s Second Advent, when the dead will be raised, some to eternal life and others to judgment (John 5:25-29).
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Father, things are not as they should be in this world. The rich oppress the poor. The powerful lord it over the powerless. Those who have sworn to protect and serve are quick to shed the blood of my people. God, as we look back at Christ’s Advent and look forward to His second arrival, give Your justice to the widows and the orphans. Grant us a foretaste of justice as a sign of the peace and sinless life we will enjoy in the eschaton. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.