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 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.

Book Study: Surprise the World! — Sent by Jesus

Surprise the World! -- SENT

In this series, we are looking at Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World!, with its challenge to live surprising lives. He uses the acronym B.E.L.L.S. to describe what this might look like. In previous reflections, we looked at the first four letters, which stand for BLESS, EAT, LISTEN, and LEARN. Today, we are looking at the fifth and final habit: SENT by Jesus.

This last habit is different from the other four. It is not so much about doing something as it is growing into an identity, which is to see yourself as one who is sent by Jesus. Who we are affects how we live. At the beginning of the Christian movement, all of the disciples were sent out to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God. They understood that, while every Christian was not called to be an Evangelist, every Christian was meant to be an ambassador for Christ.

Over time, “missionary” came to refer to a select group of people who traveled to foreign countries as Evangelists to proclaim the good news of Christ. And that is important and necessary work. But back home, where most everyone was Christian, there didn’t seem to be much need of ambassadors for Christ. That was someone else’s job that happened somewhere else.

Called and Sent by Jesus

Part of the Missional movement is to help people reclaim their identity as being called and sent by Christ. Michael Frost invites us to take time during the week to claim this identity by reflecting on it by journaling. Even if we don’t journal, we might take some time to look over the week and see where we have been able “to alert others to the universal reign of God through Christ.”

He reminds us again that this is not about being an Evangelist. Not everyone has that gifting. Rather, by living this life of blessing, eating, listening, and learning, we are offering through our lives a glimpse of God’s love in action. Our lives point to the Kingdom of God when we live according to its values. Here are four of them:

1. Reconciliation

At the heart of our Christian faith is the great reconciliation between God and humanity through the cross of Christ. This greater reconciliation becomes the foundation for reconciliation to grow “between Jew and Gentile, slave and free, black and white and Asian and Hispanic, and so on.” The act of reconciliation is a core expression of God’s reign and rule. We announce and demonstrate God’s Kingdom through reconciliation.

This is why reconciliation between Indigenous and settler people has been so central to our mission in the Anglican Church of Canada over the last several decades. But we are also called to reconciliation in our own lives. We are called to allow God’s healing to infiltrate relationships where they are broken by anger, hurt, and unforgiveness.

2. Justice

In our baptismal vows, we promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being,” as we respond, “I will with God’s help.” The church at its best has always looked for ways to help the marginal or disadvantaged. Christian greats such as William Wilberforce, John Wesley, and Charles Spurgeon led campaigns for the betterment of society. More recently, people like John Stott, Martin Luther King Jr., and Desmond Tutu have engaged deeply in causes around poverty and racism. When we work for justice, we work for the Kingdom of God.

3. Beauty

Beauty is a central pointer to the Kingdom of God. We can feel the presence of God deeply on a mountaintop or in a beautiful cathedral. Where do you experience beauty? Is it through a piece of music that deeply touches your soul, or the well-ordered cells under a microscope? How do we create beauty? How do we spend time encouraging beauty or experiencing it?

4. Wholeness

Jesus didn’t just talk about the Kingdom of God. As he worked to heal broken people, he showed us how much God wants wholeness for a hurting world. Some professionals—nurses, doctors, mental health professionals, and so on—are dedicated to wholeness in various ways. But everyone can further wholeness through acts of encouragement, blessing, and healing for people who are struggling. This is the deeper meaning of blessing others (missional habit #1). It might look like a listening ear, but it is also a sign of God’s love for that person THROUGH you.

Frost encourages us not just to do all of these things, but also to take the time to reflect on them. Reflecting on our experiences brings greater depth. We gain insight when we examine how we felt about a certain experience. We learn about ourselves by taking the time to discern how God is operating in our lives. Spend some time reflecting and identify where you have been acting for the Kingdom. This action will help you to see more opportunities as they arrive. Own your identity: God has called you and sent you.

(NOTE: These reflections are only meant to be a synopsis and study of Michael Frost’s work, Surprise the World! Our purpose is to encourage our readers with these great ideas. If you interested in going further, please go read the book. You can order it here:

This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. Thank you for your support.

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 27: All Saints’ Day

All Saints' Day
Episode 27: All Saints’ Day

All Saints’ Day is one of the great feast days in our church year. Originally a commemoration of martyrs, All Saints‘ draws together several important themes: worship, heaven, redemption, communion, and more. It gives us a window into reality beyond what mortal eyes can see, and reminds us of God’s promise of hope and a future. Join us around the virtual table as we talk about Revelation 7:9-17 and All Saints’ Day.

Please join the conversation! Who is your favourite saint? How do you find hope in God?Add your insights in the comments below.

Book Study: Surprise the World! — Eating Together

Surprise the World -- EAT

In this series, we are looking at Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World, with its challenge to live surprising lives. He uses the acronym B.E.L.L.S. to describe what this might look like. In our last reflection, we looked at the first letter, which stands for BLESS. Today, we are looking at the second habit, EAT.

Frost challenges his readers to try to eat with three people this week, at least one of whom is not a member of the church. Of course, this is much harder in the time of Covid. It might have to be a coffee or a walk outside. Even if we have to wait for Covid to end, it is still worth pondering why eating with someone is so important.

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Frost reminds us that eating and hospitality have a special place in Christian practice. Eating together was the one thing that Jesus told us to do when we meet. We are familiar with the Eucharist, but Christians also celebrated love-feasts, a time of eating and being together. The table with food is the central symbol of Christian gathering. Frost writes, “It represents hospitality, inclusivity, generosity and grace.” It may not seem like much, but in the ancient world, the Emperor Julian the Apostate complained that meals of hospitality were one of the central ways that Christians were ‘perverting’ the empire! There is power in gathering.

Eating Together to Change the World

When Frost encourages us to eat with other, he is not talking about the sacrament. He means a meal and hospitality. Why? Because there is something special about sharing a meal together. It has deep meaning in every culture. He writes, “The table is the great equalizer in relationships. When we eat together we discover the inherent humanity of all people. We share stories. And hopes. And fears. And disappointments. People open up to each other.”

His friend Alan Hirsch goes further: “Missional hospitality is a tremendous opportunity to extend the kingdom of God. We can literally eat our way into the kingdom of God! If every Christian household regularly invited a stranger or a poor person into their home for a meal once a week, we would literally change the world by eating!”

Eating Together as a Sign of Grace

As with blessing, we don’t invite people into our homes because we expect them to become Christians or come to our church. We invite them because we want to get to know them at a human level. But the act of inviting people in and showing them the love of hospitality is a sign of the kingdom of God.

Whether or not it leads to a conversation about faith, we leave that to God. In having fellowship, we don’t judge people’s lifestyles or eating (or drinking) habits. It is an act of grace to prepare food for another person and get to know them around a table. And who knows, you may learn something new and grow a new friendship. God can do lots of great things over a simple dish of food.

(NOTE: These reflections are only meant to be a synopsis and study of Michael Frost’s work, Surprise the World! Our purpose is to encourage our readers with these great ideas. If you interested in going further, please go read the book. You can order it here:

This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. Thank you for your support.

Building Treasure in Heaven: What Love Looks Like

Jesus shows us love

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

St. Paul (1 Corinthians 13, NLT)

It is fitting to end this series on Building Treasure in Heaven by reflecting on love, because as Paul beautifully puts it, love is the greatest of all the virtues. In fact, we can be bold and state that, ultimately, all the virtues are in support of love or are expressions of love. Love is at the heart of the Christian life for the simple fact that God is love and Jesus shows us what love looks like. If there is one virtue that we need to focus on, it is love.

What is Love?

There are two problems with the English word ‘love.’ First, we can love God, love our children, love coffee, love the sunset and love going fast. They don’t all mean the same thing! Second, in English, ‘love’ usually means a feeling, whereas in the Bible, ‘love’ means a feeling but ALSO a decision and a practice. One can practice love without feeling anything. This is important.

As Tim Mackie points out in his video on Biblical love, Jesus’ disciples didn’t consult a dictionary to find out the meaning of love; they looked at Jesus. They saw a man worried that the leaders of Israel were not protecting the people of Israel and drawing them to God. Jesus saw the people as ‘sheep without a shepherd,’ so he lived to show them what love looks like.

Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples by Jacopo Tintoretto, c. 1575-80 (The National Gallery)

The disciples watched Jesus spend three years reaching out to the people in need, completely bypassing the leadership. He healed people who were sick or worried about their loved ones. In many different ways, he taught them the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God. He fed thousands of hungry people. Jesus continually reached out to people on the margins, bringing grace to the rejected: the lepers; people struggling with demons; tax collectors and prostitutes.

The Scandal of Love

Jesus’ care for people was deeply shocking to the religious establishment of his day. He taught the disciples about love with shocking actions. For instance, he got down on his knees like a slave to wash the dirt and filth of the day off of Peter’s feet. Peter couldn’t handle that, but Jesus invited him to look deeper: this is what love looks like. It reaches out and shows mercy, especially when the situation is messy and hard. Love reaches even to the people who hate us and whom we might hate. It is not necessarily a feeling. In fact, we might even be repelled by acts of hard love. But Jesus calls us to love anyway.

Love shows itself in action. To show mercy is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. Why? Jesus helps us to understand when he gives us the great commandment: we are called to love God with all our heart, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. He doesn’t separate these, but makes them one piece. We love God by loving our neighbours, and love our neighbours because we love God.

We Know What Love Looks Like Because God First Loved Us

The New Testament teaches that our love for both God and neighbour is PRECEDED by God’s love for us. God’s love reaches out in Jesus Christ for healing and salvation. God comes to us. We don’t have to go to him. God crosses the great divide between us. In Romans 5:8, Paul writes, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” And in 1 John 4:9, the apostle John reflects, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” And of course, John 3:16 reads, “God so loved the world that he send his only begotten Son…”

The point is that when we love, we are most like God. God shows love and mercy to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. That is who he is. At the heart of the universe is a heart beating with love, drawing all things to himself for the purpose of wholeness, healing and restoration. This is salvation. Love is both the greatest vision of all things, as well as the lowliest and simplest act of kindness. When we look at how God works and what God values, we see what love looks like.

Love binds everything together. It is the best way to understand what it means to Build Treasure in Heaven.