Alpha Course, and Learning to Rely on the Holy Spirit. (January 9, 2019)
Dear VICC family,
Over the weekend, Tyler and I attended a one-day training event for a ministry called Alpha. As some of you know, I am a real believer in the Alpha Course. I think it is a great way to discuss the basic beliefs and practices of the Christian faith in a way that is very accessible to new believers and non-believers alike. For some time now, I and my friend Andrew from the Roman Catholic church have been scheming and praying and talking to people about bringing a well-planned and well-executed, island-wide, multi-church Alpha Course to Vashon Island. It is a complicated process, but should the Lord choose to bless us, all the hard work will have been worth it.
One of the things that really stuck out to me in the training last Saturday was the emphasis of reliance upon the Holy Spirit. “We don’t lead anyone to faith in Jesus. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. We just provide the setting and the opportunity.” In talking about prayer, including praying for healing and praying for people to be filled with the Spirit (two things Alpha Course emphasizes), the emphasis was never on being showy, or pushy, or hyper-spiritual. Prayer can be quiet, though not always. It may be brief, or it may go for as long as God leads. But the trainers made the point more than once, “Pause and listen. Let the Holy Spirit give you guidance as you pray. Pray with your eyes open to see what is happening as you pray. The answer may not come right away. It may be days later. But God may do something right here in front of you.” For a room full of Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, Anglicans, and non-denominationals, this training was perfectly normal to some and a bit, shall we, say, “spooky” to others! But the whole point of the Alpha Course’s emphasis on the Holy Spirit is to show that this stuff isn’t weird. The Holy Spirit is for normal people, just like the gospel is for normal people, just like Jesus is for normal people.
For the future of Alpha Course on Vashon Island, I covet your prayers and will keep you all updated on what the Lord seems to be doing. For the lessons I learned this weekend about relying on God’s Spirit, well, I think those are lessons I am going to have to learn over and over again for the rest of my life! But I pray that you and I would all become a bit more aware of the immediacy of God – that, because God has torn down the barrier between him and us through Jesus, he is now a God who, to borrow Karl Barth’s term, is “God here and now.”
Your praying, dependent, ever-again-at-the-beginning, partner on the journey,