Thursday 19 September, Questions of Life
There is a lot of talk these days, but little deeper conversation. Alpha is a forum to skew life’s questions in a thoughtful direction. It is an unapologetic primer in the Christian faith, but starts from the premise that there are no dumb questions or opinions that cannot be voiced. It does not provide glib answers, but prompts people to listen to each other with a respectful ear, and to share experiences. “Does the Spirit world exist, what happens after you die, is there a heaven and hell” were questions voiced as guests shared their opinions. “I believe in a God, but don’t go to church”, “Why do such bad things happen in my life”, “I pray but never get an answer”, “I believe in Jesus, but don’t read the Bible”. So many questions, so much ground to cover, and this is only the first week and the topic “”who is Jesus?”. The dividing figure in human history. Man or God, or both? Tragic leader or illusionist? Great teacher or fraud? Real person or myth? The world has changed much in the two millennia since the events recorded in the Gospels occurred. The human condition has changed little, we still have rich and poor, leaders and followers, joy and sorrow, questions and where do you turn for answers? Alpha is not a quick fix with instant solutions, but a process to lead into soul questions, and enjoy some fun and a good meal at the same time. This Alpha is taking place in Sarnia, Ontario, but simultaneously many there venues across the world are hosting identical sessions. In Community halls, retirement homes, people’s homes, churches and pubs across the world. Check for one in your town and start scratching that itch.
Saturday September 7, Chilli cook off surprise winner
There was a surprise winner at the Trinity fall Fair chilli cook off, rank outsider Rev Musa Daba a recent import from New Zealand claimed the Golden Spoon, although with characteristic modesty he deferred to wife Lavidia who actually runs the kitchen in their home. The sun shone on a warm autumn day, as hundreds flocked to this annual event, which includes a bouncy castle, horse drawn wagon rides, face painting, popcorn and cotton candy in addition to the popular chilli and cookie competition. It takes over fifty volunteers to set up and run the sideshows, manage parking and keep serving hot dogs, all wearing bright red T’s donated by coordinator Shirley Petit’s son’s marketing business. In truth, everyone ended as a winner on this bright and sunny day. Children were happy, parents relaxed, volunteers busy and the bemused parent who asked where to pay was delighted to find that it was all free, a faith gift from Trinity church to the community.
Thursday Sept 5, Alpha
There is a lot of talk these days, but not so much conversation. Social media is awash with memes, memories and videos of feline amusement, but searching for answers to life’s deepest questions, keep looking. Life, death, forgiveness, brokenness, pain, sin, prayer are difficult topics that are avoided because of shame, embarrassment, ignorance or vulnerability. Is there a God? Who was Jesus Christ? Why does it matter? Everyone has questions about this tangled, complicated beautiful life we have been gifted; where it went right and where it went horribly wrong. I am no expert, I’ve had my share of heartbreaks, confusion, loss and defeats. But I have also found meaning, joy and beauty along the way. Alpha arose out of the desire in one church in England thirty years ago, to provide a way for ordinary people to search for answers in the context of Christianity. It has spread around the world, in different languages and involving millions of people and many diverse denominations. Beginning Thursday Sept 12, at 6pm at the Inn of the Good Shepherd Sarnia, Trinity will be hosting a twelve week session. The format is simple, enjoy a meal, watch a video, discuss. No pressure, nothing to sign, no fees no commitment. It is not a subtle recruitment programme, although you may want to continue in a church. Any church. It is not a cash grab, it is free, no strings. Spoiler alert, it may change the way you look at your life. Don’t take my word, check Google or You Tube. It will make a change from cat videos.
Sunday 1 Sept, Just driving by
After this morning’s service I was introduced to a couple of British visitors, who saw the Church sign and decided to stop. Yes its does happen! As a Brit, and talking the same lingo, I was happy to engage, and after the usual “where are you from” icebreaker, they lived in the shadow of the Mothership, Canterbury Cathedral, I asked what they made of the service. Now for those not familiar with church, particularly of the Anglican persuasion, Trinity Sarnia is a lively evangelical gathering with a Praise band, contemporary family centred worship and welcoming culture. Many visitors expecting a traditional service are surprised by the energy, although the liturgy (order of service) follows the rubric. In the popular (UK) press we might be scornfully regarded as the “happy clappy” crowd. “This was great” they exclaimed, “similar to our church at home. In fact this is the only style of church which is growing in England”. I was not trolling for approbation, merely curious what perfect strangers made of our church. It helped that Rev Musa preached an engaging sermon on being humble, a commodity in short supply especially amongst the political class today. They were heading over the border to Traverse City, after staying at a local Air B’nB; sometimes it pays to be curious. There was a healthy turn out for Rev Musa’s second Sunday, perhaps our visitors are prescient.