Listen O Coastlands by the Rev. Dr. John Joseph Mastandrea
Bible Text: Isaiah 49:1-7; I Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42 | We are the coast-lands the place where wind, wave and land create a mash up of life and spirit.
We are the coast-lands the places of memory.
I recall the Atlantic Coast , my first encounter with the Gulf of Saint Lawrence the people of sea, the fishing village of Harrington where I landed and found the spark of a call to ministry, ignited once more.
We are the coast-lands, on the shores of the Pacific Coast at the edge of urban Vancouver, the first encounter with the great redwoods.
We are the coast-lands on the coast of James Bay, the first encounter with the Oji-Cree and the first nations’ who offered, welcome.
We are the coast-land the edge of beginning where the writers from Isaiah proclaim God made my mouth to speak the impossible dream and reach for the unattainable, go beyond, to find God breaking into our lives.
You might recall in the year 1999, the word on the street was there would be a last governor of Hong Kong because British was coming to an end. There was at the time a colossal Exodus of Hong Kong Chinese and in an instant the world was transformed.
Hong Kong did not fall but the world leaned in to discover the insights of Chinese wisdom. A culture that speaks of balance and insights.
A culture that speaks to the wisdom of our own beginnings.
In the word from Isaiah.
The lord formed me in the womb. It is inside the womb that DNA is born of our longing, our recognition, for Isaiah and ourselves, to become something more and destined, to be called beyond our finitude.
Meister Eckhart once said, “Whenever we talk about God the Creator we are talking about goodness. It is loaded with good, a good person praises good people.
In the good writings of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we find that the testimony of Christ is strength. Paul reminds us our own legacy to look at conflict, examine divisions, and end tensions. It is the shared Universal truth.
Our legacy of Methodism insists that personal salvation always dependent upon a personal piety that proclaims that the love of God that is always linked with the love of neighbours and passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.
The word from the gospel opens the corner to another insight on renewal.
“Here is the lamb of God”, affirms John the Baptist at the approach of Jesus. There is a retelling of the call of disciples, Peter, Andrew, James, John. We are part of the call of the tribes that bind us together to confront our common humanity, that asks the question, “What are you looking for?”
Paul confronts this question “in every way we are enriched in speech and knowledge.” In many United Church Pews, we have Voices United pg. 916 that is a corner of the spark we are looking for.
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples
of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.”
We are the coast-lands, God made our mouth, formed us in the womb, to be the testimony of Christ. Here is the lamb of God, we have found the messiah in the true identity of Jesus.
Recently I attended a seminar on Social Enterprise. A program that helps us reclaim the true identity of Jesus. Social Enterprise is a program that employs the convict, clothes the naked, feeds the hungry heals the wounded.
God made my mouth to say yes to the invitation of “follow me”.
The other day I came across an article “Wilde Women in a Man’s World”. The women in Oscar Wilde’s world had a tremendous impact on his writing. In the “Happy Prince” – “Any place you love is the world to you.”
Today Isaiah speaks on love. “Listen, O Coast-lands”. This week is the advent of Chinese New Year a coastland of another culture and yet not so far away.
In Chinese New year we shout “gōng xǐ fā cái”. It is the year of the Rat.
In the Lunar Zodiac there are 12 symbols. In the solar Zodiac there are 12 signs.
We reference 12 tribes of Israel, 12 labours of Hercules, 12 disciples, the Inca Calendar 12 months. The number 12 is the thread of continuity the living symbol that unites us from coast-land to coast-land. We are not far apart we are ancient peoples joined together at the heart and core of our being
Listen O, Coast-lands.
It is the time to listen to Isaiah, God made my moth to be like a sharp sword. A sharp sword to be the mystic warrior, a call to radical and joy-filled activism.
It is time to listen to the call of Jesus to be disciple again, to hear the distilled wisdom.
We are the coast-lands, God made our mouth, God formed us in the womb to be the testimony of Christ’s strength. Here is the lamb of God, we find messiah. Here are now.
God makes our mouths,
We are the coast-lands
“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.
It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.