The Gift of Alpha

Dear beloved sisters and brothers,

I am glad to announce that Alpha will be offered again this winter. Alpha is an 11 week course that is focused on the essential core message of the Gospel: faith and salvation in Jesus Christ, who empowers us by the gift of the Holy Spirit to live a new life. Alpha has helped millions of people come to faith, grow in their faith and be enkindled with a new enthusiasm for living the faith.

Since Alpha focuses on the basic message of the Gospel, which is common to all Christians, it is ecumenical in it’s approach. It is open to all. The fruitful success of Alpha around the world is its simple, warm approach of gathering people around a meal for teaching and lighthearted discussions about the big questions of life. Some of the questions are: Is there more to life than this? Who is Jesus? How can I have faith? Why and how do I pray? Why and how should I read the Bible? How does God guide us? Who is the Holy Spirit? How can I resist evil?

The reason for bringing Alpha to our parish is simple. Jesus said, “I came that they (those who follow me) may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). There’s a big difference between living our own concepts of a “good life” and the “abundant life” that Jesus came to give us. The Gospel account of Peter walking on the water is a great example of this. Peter could have stayed in the boat, hugging his fear and playing it safe. Had he done so, he would have never discovered what more he could do through Jesus Christ. Walk on water? Really?! And Jesus said, “Come.” Peter stepped out of the boat, which represents all that is safe, secure and familiar and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. Amazing! And Peter, together with this small band of disciples, did far greater than this after Jesus’ resurrection. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, they began to set the world on fire with faith in Jesus Christ.

In my years of ministry, one of the things that troubles and saddens me most is when I encounter people stuck in a hopeless complacency—people who do not think or believe that there is anything more to life than what they know and is familiar to them. They remain in the same place year after year, completely unaware of the fruitful, abundant life Jesus continues to offer them. They lack the deep, abiding joy and enthusiasm for life that comes through the Spirit. It’s more about survival and just getting through another day and another week.

Jesus did not suffer, die and rise from the dead, so that you and I could simply survive, and even less, to live a safe, joyless life. Jesus came to bring us an “abundant life,” life to the full. The Alpha course is simply a useful tool to help awaken and foster this gift of New Life within those who attend.

I hope you will prayerfully consider attending the Alpha course this winter or sometime in the near future. We will be offering the course each year, giving everyone a chance to attend. There is no preparation needed; just come as you are. Please keep your eye on the bulletin and for further details and information on how you can register.

Be assured of my continued prayers for you and your families.

May God overwhelm you with his love,
Fr. Steven





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