Walking Together: An Easter Reflection
written by Rev S. Juliette Maua’i
As our Easter journey draws near, and another year passes where Sovereignty and Treaty are not yet realised, I am again drawn to reflect on our Uniting Church malaga (hereafter – journey). What does it mean to really walk together as Second Peoples, committed and willing to face the challenges and celebrate the joys and hopes along our malaga, with our First Peoples, in the light of the Easter message?
The Easter message invites us to ask the difficult questions. Therefore, I say, ‘where Sovereignty and Treaty are not yet realised’, because ‘not yet’ is the ‘hope’ that Sovereignty and Treaty, will arrive! The ‘hope’, that the Sovereignty and Treaty dream will materialise! The ‘hope’, that in our Easter journey to the Cross with Jesus, all of God’s people will be ‘free’ in their homeland; the same ‘hope’, in our malaga to the Cross with our First Peoples, that they may finally be, ‘free’, in every sense!
In that ‘Spirit of Hope’ to be free, I see the images of First and Second Peoples – Sisters, walking with arms draped around each other’s shoulders, walking together on country.
In that ‘Spirit of Hope’, I hear ‘the cries; woes of the Stolen Generations’, and my inner being feels the deep anguish and the reverberating pain of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mothers and Grandmothers, whose children and grandchildren were ‘stolen’. And I am sorry – so, so sorry!
Our First Nations’ Sisters, Mothers, Aunties, Grandmothers, I wonder if your pain and disbelief at the forceful taking of your children and years of searching but not knowing where they are, is the ‘empty tomb’ you visit every day of your lives? You look for your babies and children, but they are nowhere to be found. You hope for authorities to speak truth and allow your voices to be heard, but still you face bureaucracy and avoidance!
I wonder and imagine what is it like for you, our First Peoples; is it like the veil of events leading up to this nation’s Black/Good Friday, that continues today to cloak the hurt only our First Peoples know well. When will the veil be lifted? There is no answer that has weight to it in its truth for our First Peoples. And so, you return time and time again to the empty tomb.
But there is, ‘hope’!
Your culture has similarities to my Samoan culture and I am reminded of our wisdom sayings of community when one of our family members has done wrong, “that your wrong, is our (aiga/family) wrong.” In this context – your pain, is our pain; your fight, is our fight; your walking on country; should see us running towards you, our First Peoples, and to say, “teach me/us to walk with you/your mob and request your permission to walk on your country!”
In that ‘Spirit of Hope’, where an anxious, maybe fearful yet hopeful Mary in John’s Gospel 20:1-18, encounters Jesus. And she hurries to tell the disciples what she saw. In that same ‘Spirit of Hope’, may we, the ‘Walking Together with First and Second Peoples Circle’ extend to our First Peoples – our Sisters, Mothers, Aunties, Grandmothers, and Brothers – that we are with you, help us to walk with you!
We are willing to be challenged and to face our colonial past. We are walking with you our First Nations Peoples towards the ‘Good Friday’s’ ahead of us and which we must face in solidarity. And it is only in Jesus, might we come to understand the ‘darkness of Good Friday’ that our First Nations Peoples experienced and continue to experience.
My prayer this Easter season our First Nations Peoples, accompanied by our Second Peoples, that we lead the journey in our Walking Together Circle, in the Easter hope that we may finally arrive together, transformed of our colonial past, to witness and rejoice in God’s promises through Christ, to the saving emancipation of Easter Resurrection morning, everyday!
 [Rev S. Juliette Maua’i Reflection/Poem/Song from two-day conversation with First and Second Peoples, March 2019, Sydney].