I am a Christian.
A year ago, I couldn't have said that out loud, let alone share it with you lovely people. Now, people don't always have a positive attitude to someone if they say they are a Christian. I have had the following reactions to me saying I'm a Christian:
You don't look like it
Are your parent's Christian?
Or I get an 'OK' and the topic of conversation is changed. I used to feel a bit uncomfortable when this would happen, maybe even slightly embarrassed, but now, I know they are like that because they do not understand. Everyone has different reasons for being a Christian, going to church or owning a bible. For me, I have had a bible since I was Christened as a baby. I keep it in my bedside table and it was a gift from my Nanna Flo, who is sadly no longer with us. I had always seen it as a lovely gift from a lovely lady and a pretty thing to keep on a shelf, but after thinking about it, if my house was on fire, that would be one of the things I would have to try and save. Not only due to the sentimental nature of it, but because the Christian in me wants to keep it safe. I don't read it everyday, or even every month, but I like to know it is there. I have always found a comfort in being in a church, praying and just in general being able to think about my faith.
**This post is in no way saying 'Become a Christian', I just want to share my story with you**
A little bit of history..... To my recollection, I didn't really attend church much as a child, but at Grammar school, we used to go to Rochester Cathedral once or twice a year for a special service. I was christened when I was a baby and I have Godparents, who I am still close to. When Mike and I got engaged on Christmas Day 2010, our first thought was where we wanted to get married. We were both sure that getting married in a church was what we both wanted to do. To us, it seemed natural to get married in a church, in front of God, as we were making eternal vows to each other, and wanted God to bless our marriage. So, we had just moved to our first home in the October, and starting to look at what church we wanted to get married in, and there was a lovely church in the next village. After having a little drive-by one evening after work, we loved how pretty the church was from the outside. So, ,that Sunday, we decided to go to the church service. It was so lovely! There was a more traditional service at 9am, then a more relaxed, child-friendly service from 10:30, and there was tea, coffee and biscuits at the cross over so everyone could have a chat. Then the service would last 60-90 mins, with the children going off to a side room for Sunday School during the main part of the service. They would learn something relevant to the service we were having, usually making something they could take home. Anyway, after about 2 Sunday services, we knew that we wanted to get married there. And we did. It was such a lovely place to get married.
When we got married, we were living about 40 minutes from there, and we did have time to change churches to the one in the village where we are now, but we really wanted to stick with that one. So, back to the story in hand..... In about September last year, I noticed a sign outside the church in our village about an 'Alpha Course'. I went home and did a bit of research about what that was, and liked the idea of it. Basically, you go to the rectory one evening a week for 10 weeks, have dinner with a group of people, including the Rev. and have a chat, then watch a DVD about a certain part of Christianity, then chat about what you have watched. Now, for me, I felt this was a chance for me to explore my faith a bit more, and even learn more about Christianity. I told Mike about how it was something I wanted to do and if he minded watching the children whilst I went there, and he said it was something he liked to sound of too. So we signed up!
It was great! We started around the beginning of September 2012 and were really enjoying it. Unfortunately, we ended up missing a couple. We were getting ready one evening to go, and just before we left, we had a call saying that Mike's grandfather had collapsed, so we all rushed over to there house, but he had sadly passed away. I informed Rev Gary of what was going on and he was so lovely and said that he would pray for us, which gave me such a good feeling of support from our friends at Alpha. Then, we couldn't attend the week before our wedding as we had a rehearsal at our old church. Then, Mike got diagnosed with a tumour, and we had so many hospital appointments to go to, and he wasn't feeling well, so we decided it was best to stop going to Alpha.
This was so the right decision at the time, but I did miss going. So when I went to the church with Maria one Sunday for a choir concert, I noticed a flyer on the pew advertising the Alpha Course 2013! I was so excited and filled in the form there and then!
So, the main reason for this post was to share with you my experience of this course. I know I have gone on a bit about it, but I wanted you to know everything!
I have really enjoyed every week of Alpha, we talk about things like the bible, praying, how to have faith and who Jesus was. I find the DVD talks really informative, and we get to have a good chat afterwards, and I enjoy hearing other people's opinions/questions from what we have just watched. We also had an 'away day' in the middle of the course. We spent a Saturday all together, and watched 3 of the DVD talks in one day, as they were all focused around one topic. We shared lunch together and had a great day of chatting about our faith and did some praying. I really had a good day. Now, we don't go to church as often as I would like, and I know that I could go if I really wanted to, but Sunday's are usually our only rest day/day together with Mike and the children, so we are normally out and about. But for me, I don't feel I need to go to church every week to be a good Christian, I can pray at home, in the car, when I'm walking the dog. I really enjoy having faith in something, and that gives me a warm feeling inside, especially when I'm having a bad day, I just sit quietly, even for 2 minutes.
St Martin's Church, Eynsford
I was also really touched that my cousin and her fiancee asked me to read a poem at their beautiful daughter's christening yesterday. After going through the Alpha Course and accepting my beliefs, I sat in the church during the service, and I felt so, I don't know what the word is. Alive maybe, knowing that God was there and I know he was shining down on the gorgeous Florence.
Sorry this has been quite a heavy worded post, but it is something that I wanted to share with you. If you are thinking about learning more about Christianity, visit your local church and ask about their next Alpha Course. We have had a great 10 weeks, and made some new friends, who are so lovely! And a bonus is not having to cook on a Wednesday! Each week, a member of the church volunteers to make dinner for us, which is always lovely. When I am eating it, I feel so grateful that someone has taken their time to cook us a meal, and they don't even know us! I'm going to be gutted when this is over to have to think about what to do for dinner! Haha :) I am going to volunteer to cook a few times for the next course :)
If you have got to this point of the post, well done! And thank you for reading :)