The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 43: A Grain of Wheat Dies

Podcast #43: A Grain of Wheat Dies
Episode 43: John 12:20-33

In today’s podcast, we jump nine chapters ahead from last week to John 12:20-33, which looks toward the crucifixion through the image of a grain of wheat that dies.

The passage starts with some people from outside the Jewish faith wanting to talk with Jesus. This is a symbolic moment in Jesus’ ministry. It leads to a reflection on the deeper meaning of what he is working to accomplish.

Jesus starts to look ahead to his painful death on the cross using the metaphor of a seed. A grain of wheat must be buried in the ground to die before it bears life. Similarly, we are all to see ourselves in the grain of wheat that dies. This leads to a conversation between Jesus and God the Father that some hear as thunder from Heaven. Then, Jesus gives a final reflection that his death is not just a tragedy, but it is the judgement of the world, drawing all people to Christ through the cross.

Join us on this final Sunday in Lent around the virtual table as we plumb the rich depths of this reading, exploring the significance of Jesus’ upcoming death and what it means to ‘die to oneself’.

The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 42: For God so Loved the World

Podcast #42: For God So Loved the World
Episode 42: John 3:14-21

In today’s podcast we are looking at a passage from the Gospel of John that contains perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.

The passage flows out of a conversation between Jesus and a religious leader named Nicodemus. Our topic for the podcast today comes from this longer passage, John 3:14-21. It hangs on an important question: how to we know heavenly things? And more specifically, how do we attain to eternal life? The answer of the passage is through Jesus.

To help us understand it, the speaker points us back to a much earlier episode in Israelite history. It is a story where, centuries earlier, people were being bitten by poisonous snakes and getting sick. Moses was instructed to put an image of a snake on a pole. Then, if the Israelites looked at it, they would be healed. By referring back to this story, the Gospel of John is telling us that if we look to Jesus and believe in him, we too will be spiritually healed and receive eternal life.

Join us around the virtual table as we talk about what “God so loved the world” has to say about condemnation and love, staying close to God, and what it really means to believe.

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.

Learning to Taste and See

As an adult, my biggest learning about Christian faith is that it is a whole way of life. It is no accident that the early Christians were called followers of The Way.

When I was a kid growing up in the church, I received A LOT of biblical teaching. This focused on God, salvation, atonement, incarnation, sanctification and redemption. Some of the teaching was great; some was much less great. As a child, I missed how the story of God enriched and upheld the story of my own life and gave me meaning and purpose. I learned a lot of facts about God, but I didn’t know God. I didn’t learn how to be a disciple.

Discovering a new vision

When I came back to faith as an adult, it started with an encounter. Through the Catholic writer Thomas Merton, I met Jesus again for the first time, and he ‘looked’ so different than the Jesus I knew growing up. His teaching was challenging and compelling. I saw a vision for the kingdom of God that hit me deeply. It was a vision of a community marked by vigorous peace, love, justice and faith bringing good works and faith to those in need.

Meditating on Jesus’ death, I saw a profundity in the love of God I had never seen before, the miracle of transforming connection with God. In his resurrection, I saw a vision of a world renewed in the love of God. In the Eucharist, in the soft taste of bread, and the sweet taste of the wine, I tasted and felt the deep presence of God within me. All of this stayed with me long after I left the church building.

I found that questions were being answered, and new ones were emerging. At the same time, I was becoming more attentive to other people in a way I wasn’t before. Going to church in the inner city, I started to see human need in a way that I had found easy to ignore before. I wanted to talk to people about my faith and ask them questions about things that were hard for me.

As I started to look at the intricacy of nature as an example of God’s handiwork, I saw beauty where I hadn’t before. As I read scripture, I was meeting Jesus again and again. But I was still dealing with my perpetual weight issues. I still procrastinated and lost my temper at stupid things. I forgot to do things I said I would do. All of that became part of my prayer. I grew to love the quiet time in church before people came. I looked forward to singing, something I had never really payed attention to before.

For me, discipleship happened accidentally. I met Jesus, and he has been changing me for the better ever since. And I am so grateful for this path. May I walk it every day of my life (or at least most days.😊)