The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 39: Grace in the Wilderness

Podcast 39: Grace in the Wilderness
Episode 39: Mark 1:9-15

This week, we turn to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. After his baptism, Jesus is driven into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. This story reminds us that, while the wilderness is an important place of purification and spiritual growth, it can also be a place of grace. For this reason, people have long retreated to literal and figurative deserts to pray, wrestle with sin, let go of unholy attachments, and encounter God.

The 40 days of Lent that began with Ash Wednesday call us into a kind of wilderness. There, the stuff of everyday life is stripped away and we are invited to meet God honestly. It is important to note that we do not enter the wilderness alone; like Jesus, we go with the Spirit of God, and with God’s words of love ringing in our ears.

How has God met you in the deserts of your life? What stark landscapes of the heart is God inviting you to explore this Lent? How are you discovering the love and grace of God in the wilderness?

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 38 – The Transfiguration of Jesus: Seeing with New Eyes

Episode 38: Mark 9:2-9

Join us this week for a conversation about the Transfiguration of Jesus, as recorded in Mark’s Gospel. If this story sounds familiar, you may remember that we talked about it from a different angle back in August. The Transfiguration is worth revisiting, though, because it is one of the key stories in the life of Jesus and his disciples. It reveals something about God through Jesus. It also gives us insight into our own lives as part of the wider human family.

How do you discern a greater reality and the glory of God behind the everyday? Add your own thoughts in the comments below.

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 37: A Touch of Heaven

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 37: A Touch of Heaven
Episode 37: Mark 1:29-39

This week, we continue to follow Jesus’ early ministry through the first chapter of Mark. Jesus begins to expand his ministry beyond his home town. He also reaches out to touch Peter’s mother-in-law and heal her of a fever. This leads us into a conversation on the importance of touch in Jesus’ ministry and our lives, particularly in a time of physical distancing.

How do you experience the touch of Heaven? How do you find space with God in desert-like seasons of your life? Join us around the virtual table and feel free to add your comments below.

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 36: Healing and Authority

Episode 36: Mark 1: 21-28

In Mark 1:21-28, Jesus continues his early ministry, travelling through Galilee, healing the sick and casting out demons. As these healings point to his authority from God, Jesus soon clashes with those claiming secular and spiritual power. Yet the Kingdom of God continues to break into the lives of those around him, as it still does today.

Join us around the virtual table as we talk about healing, authority, and signs of God’s life.

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 35: Jesus Calls His Disciples

Episode 34: Jesus Calls the First Disciples
Episode 35: Jesus Calls the First Disciples

Mark 1:14-20 begins with Jesus entering the region of Galilee, already proclaiming the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. As he walks along the shore, he sees four young fishermen and calls them to follow him. Immediately, they leave their nets and their father to join Jesus on the adventure of faith. When Jesus calls his disciples, he also gives us insight into what it means for us to strive to follow Jesus 2000 years later.

Join us around the virtual table as we talk about calling, discipleship, and what repentance really involves.

Heaven and the Kingdom of God

Mark 1:15

In this coming Sunday’s gospel reading, we see the heart of Jesus’ message. What is he telling us? What is Jesus’ spiritual message for us and for the world? This is important to know because it is at the center of what Christianity is all about. So what was the message? In Mark chapter 1, we hear Jesus preaching, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

The kingdom of God is at the heart of his message. Jesus assumed that his contemporaries would hear this as the best news ever! He believed that they would be excited at this proclamation.

However, as modern readers, we don’t hear it the same way. The idea of the kingdom of God probably doesn’t mean as much to us. Or if it does, we often think that it means heaven after we die. But Jesus meant it to be much bigger than that.

Heaven isn’t the whole story

What we call Heaven is only one tiny part of what Jesus is talking about: that all of the promises and prophesies in the Old Testament are all now coming true. People in ancient Israel had been waiting and praying for this moment for centuries. God had promised to come himself and be the king. The Creator would come and set things right, rescue Israel from all her enemies, and finally create a kingdom of righteousness marked by peace, justice and love. In fact, at the time of Jesus, there was a revolutionary slogan that said, “No King but God.”

Jesus says the time is fulfilled. All of these ancient prophesies are coming true. But as he continues to preach and heal and teach, it becomes clear that Jesus is doing something different. The heart of the Gospel is that God is becoming king and setting the world to rights in and through Jesus. And the way to enter the Kingdom of God is to commit to Jesus, believing and trusting in him as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

Jesus also taught that the Kingdom would come in stages. His public ministry was the first stage, then there was his death and resurrection, then the era of the church proclaiming the good news throughout the world. And at last, there will be a final consummation of all things.

The Vision of the Kingdom of God

This is important to each of us because, as believers and disciples of Jesus Christ, we are a part of the Kingdom of God. As Jesus taught, this kingdom is not a political reality, but a spiritual reality and a vision of transformed hearts and relationships.

No one is forgotten in the Kingdom of God. All are beloved and have dignity. It is a relationship with God that lasts long into eternity. It is about the world as it was always created to be, and you get to be a part of that. The Kingdom of God is as large as the whole universe, yet fully present within your own heart. In the Gospel on Sunday, we read about Jesus proclaiming the good news and issuing an invitation. Every day is a day to say yes.

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 34: The Baptism of Jesus

Episode 34: The Baptism of Jesus

Jesus’ formal ministry begins when he is baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Mark 1:1-12 tells us that as he rises out of the water, the Holy Spirit alights on him. Then, God’s voice proclaims from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” As we remember the baptism of Jesus this week, we can take the opportunity to reaffirm our own baptisms and to hear God’s voice saying the same thing to us.

Join us around the virtual table as we talk about baptism, creation, and God’s love for us.

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 30: So It Begins

John the Baptist - So It Begins

Preparing for Christ with John the Baptist

John the Baptist explodes onto the scene in all his dramatic fur-wearing, locust-eating glory in this week’s Gospel reading, Mark 1:1-8. His voice cuts across centuries to set the story of God’s redemption in motion. Join us around the virtual table as we talk about John the Baptist and the beginning of God’s Good News breaking into the world.

How do you prepare your heart for Christmas? Please join the conversation! Add your reflections in the comments below.