The talanoa of God’s love in the risen Jesus

Members of the Church of the Resurrection in Maniava. Picture: SUPPLIED

Members of the Church of the Resurrection in Maniava. Picture: SUPPLIED

I SPEAK of the talanoa because in Oceania, talanoa is important as we tell stories of the uniqueness of our identity.

Talanoa is important as we seek to interpret the deep meaning of our lives and our relationship to others. Talanoa at its best opens up new vistas of meaning and offers hope.

The talanoa of the Resurrection of Jesus in the accounts in the scriptures presents different experiences. However, there is common theme of wonder and transformation.

In Mark’s Gospel faithful women come to the tomb in the early morning as the sun is rising. What they encounter is the stone at the entrance of the tomb rolled away and a young man who tells them: “Look, there is the place they have laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him just as he told you.”

Other gospels speak of an encounter with the risen Jesus. Saul, renamed Paul, one of the earliest writers speaks powerfully of being a witness to the risen Jesus and the transformation that this encounter brings to him.

Returning to Mark’s Gospel, there is a promise that the risen Jesus goes ahead of his friends to Galilee and this would be the place of encounter. Galilee is the place of home and engagement with everyday life.

Galilee today is where we are. The risen Jesus promises to be with us in our joys and sorrows as we encounter the struggles and realities of our lives. The risen Jesus comes to us with the powerful assurance that God’s love for us is stronger than death itself.

The talanoa of God’s love is not only a past experience but a transforming present experience.

The people of Maniava, Ra are among others who suffered greatly during Cyclone Winston. A couple of days after the Cyclone, Jess in Maniava was questioning; “Lord, why has this happened to us?”

As he was questioning, he heard the church van coming and found hope: ‘Even though I don’t understand what has happened to us, Lord, I thank you that you still care for us”.

Jess and the people of Maniava and many other villages have known great struggles — devastation, the shattering of hopes. Yet there is one who is beside us who has gone ahead of us even through death itself. There is hope for us even when all seems lost. There is hope for new life and new beginnings.

The koro of Maniava is being rebuilt. On the hillside of Maniava is a new church named the Church of the Resurrection — Tucake Tale. The people of Maniava witness to the risen Jesus today. The risen Jesus continues to be encountered in the realities of our situations.

This is a poem written in Maniava after several years on an Easter Sunday;

Today death, I dance on your grave!

This Easter Sunday it will be an honour for me to worship with the people of Maniava in the Church of the Resurrection. We will be in solidarity with other faith communities large and small.

May Alleluias sound throughout Fiji as the talanoa of God’s love in the Risen Jesus is celebrated with joy.

Happy Eastertide to all in Fiji. Jesus Christ is risen today — Alleluia!