Imagine the audacity of a Christian leader in England who proposes to invite the entire country to come to supper. By means of billboard and newspaper advertising, the invitation will go out to every man, woman and child in the entire nation. In order to pull this off, Nicky Gumbel has brought into play the power of a new spiritual movement which he has helped develop and refine. The new movement is called simply, "Alpha." Its purpose is to tap into the widely apparent new interest in things spiritual and to address the growing hope that somewhere, somehow, there may be found a contemporary answer to the age old question: "What is truth?"
Alpha, which began at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in London, is a fascinating and enjoyable introduction to Jesus Christ. Over the past 20 years, it has become immensely popular in England. Participants gather one night a week for 10 weeks. Each gathering begins with supper. The nationwide invitation to supper will go out for the first session of the series. Enough churches are now participating that Gumbel can credibly invite the whole nation to have supper at one or another of them. Print advertisements in each community list 10 or 20 or 50 churches of various denominations which are hosting a delicious supper for any who might be interested.
Following supper there is a carefully prepared presentation on some aspect of Christianity and then discussion in smaller groups. Gumbel is not afraid to tackle the difficult questions that trouble so many people today. His topics include: Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?; How can I be sure of my faith?; Why and how do I pray?; and much more.
Most of the participants at Alpha are people in their 20s and 30s. Many of these young people stopped going to church in their teens because of a perceived dullness and disillusion with church life. In spite of this, beyond any question, these same young people now exhibit a substantial new interest in spiritual things. Gumbel is convinced there is no need to explore Eastern spiritual traditions or to invent some kind of New Age mysticism to try to fill or meet the needs of this generation. Instead he has found a way to present the age-old truths of Christianity in a way that appeals to those who were disillusioned disaffected in their teen years.
Now Alpha has come to Juneau. And in the same spirit, the Cathedral of the Nativity would like to invite you to supper. We hope to see you at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 416 Fifth Street, between Gold and Harris. Everyone is welcome for a delicious meal and food for the soul as well. For more information, please call 586-1513.
Father Michael Nash is the pastor of the Cathedral of the Nativity.