A is for Alpha
Updated: Jan 28
Our latest Alpha course begins next week (27th January 2022). Whether you have been a Christian for years or are just beginning to explore faith for the first time, or if you have been attending church but want to go deeper, Alpha is a great place to start. Click here to find out more and to sign up.
We are grateful to Andrea, a member of our church, Special Guest Blogger and author who has shared her experience of the Alpha course and how it has changed her life. Read her story below.
Nicky Gumbel, Founder of Alpha
I am a relatively new Christian, and my faith owes much to the Alpha course.
I was drawn to Alpha through curiosity as I had no idea what it was. Driving to work, I daily passed a large United Reformed Church which had the Alpha Banner outside, with the question, ‘Is there more to life than this? Find out with Alpha’. I googled Alpha and, given that I do love a course! - considered that it may well be of interest.
Hence a cold January evening in 2016 found me in the nervous company of several others at Christchurch in Woking, Surrey, where we lived before moving to Devon in 2017.
I loved the format of Alpha.
The sociability of the ‘meet and greet’ beforehand, the short DVD clip and structured talk and the final breakout into smaller groups to have a conversation about the evening’s theme were all equally palatable. Any fears that I had of the course being preachy, dogmatic, and overly zealous were quickly dispelled.
As the daughter of Jewish parents who leaned towards a liberal level of Judaism, I had initially to get past a massive obstacle. For the first few Alpha sessions, I was haunted by an image of my father saying, “No dear, you mustn’t believe in Jesus. He may have existed, perhaps as a fisherman or a carpenter but he was definitely not the Son of God. And how could he die and live again? Humph, impossible!”
Half-remembered conversations with dad came back to me as I recalled arguing semantics with him when I had been taught about the nativity at school. I was quite confused about what I should, or should not believe. Christmas or Hanukkah? Easter or Passover? It was tricky.
Aged eleven, I had an emergency hospital admission with appendicitis at the same time as we moved home. I did not get a chance to say goodbye to my childhood home, school, and friends. Furthermore, being in hospital at the time, I missed the selection process for school admission following my (then) eleven plus exams. Things were not terribly flexible in education in the 1960s, and the only local school my parents could get me into was a Roman Catholic Convent School. Just imagine the confusion of a young student who called herself Jewish and had never been to church, being confronted with Christ on the cross on the wall in every room (even the toilets)! I also had to adjust to the Catholic faith ethic and get used to being taught by nuns wearing black robes.
As it turned out, I was quite happy at the all-girls’ school apart from being excluded from most assemblies, and the chapel for Mass. I remember once or twice creeping into the chapel, dipping my fingers in the small font by the door and guiltily crossing myself to see if anything would happen – it didn’t.
As a young adult, I did not follow any faith. It simply didn’t have a place in my life at the time.
But when my children were young, I didn’t want them to feel excluded or different at school (as I had) and actively encouraged their taking part in Christian festivals, so that they could share in the Harvest, Easter and nativity celebrations. In my thirties, I began to attend Sunday worship at our local church, and I enjoyed the rhythm of it, but the services were rather stuffy and formal.
All these years later, through Alpha, I had the Damascene revelation that there is no reason why I too cannot have a faith.
Alpha made Christianity the most accessible and appealing belief system I have ever encountered.
My own epiphany arrived and I didn’t really know that I had been searching for it!
Alpha taught me a crucial lesson. It had never occurred to me before, that religion could be reduced to a simple choice. You can either believe, or not believe. There are no shades in between believing or not believing.
And it doesn’t matter if you decide you believe now, tomorrow, or next week. Or if you have believed since you were old enough to formulate rational thoughts. To Christians, you are as welcome when you have just joined, as if you have always been part of the faith. And I love that sense of inclusion.
God loves me. Jesus loves me. The Holy Spirit loves me. Now I understand a little, tiny, scratching-the-surface part of these three facts. And am I uplifted and supported by them? Do they help me on a day-to-day level? Yes, they really do.
If you are considering Alpha, don’t hesitate to sign up to a course that will offer you at the very least, an enriching and life-enhancing experience!
Andrea Corrie January 2022
Read more from Andrea via her blog: https://andreacorriesblog.wordpress.com
Buy Andrea's latest book on Amazon here.
(We may receive a small donation from Amazon for any purchases made through this link)
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