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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Matthew 2:1-12 tells of the visit of the Magi, mysterious strangers who follow a star to find the child Jesus. There, they offer him gifts that symbolize authority and holiness. This story brings into relief important insights about Jesus’ mission. It also foreshadows the conflicts his values will have with those who seek earthly power for power’s sake.
Epiphany, which means “revelation” or “enlightenment”, marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas. Join us around the virtual table as we talk about God’s revelation in the feast of the Epiphany and the visit of the magi.
Rich in tradition, the festival of Christmas brings hope and joy to the shortest, coldest days (at least here in the northern hemisphere!) But more than that, Christmas celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of God’s great work of healing and redemption, of reuniting Heaven and Earth, God with God’s Creation. The Incarnation shows us both the love and the humility of God. Join us around the virtual table as we talk about Christmas and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
How will you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? Please join the conversation! Add your reflections in the comments below or visit the Hope Canteen on Facebook and Instagram.