Alpha & The Parable of the Sower

Sermon Date: 
10 Jul 2011
Bible Base: 
Matt 13

David Jeans

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I want to begin by imagining four people in the year 2015 being asked about the Alpha course they went to at Deepcar in the autumn of 2011.
Number One
Alpha course? No I don’t remember that. You say I went to it? Oh, I remember now - I quite enjoyed the food, but all that Christian stuff wasn’t for me. Funny, I don’t even remember anything that was said.
Number Two
The Alpha Course? Oh yes, I remember. It was great at the time. I enjoyed the food, and the company, and it was so good to have my questions taken seriously. I loved hearing about Jesus, and the weekend away was terrific - you really felt that something special was happening. I got really keen, I remember. I started going to church morning and evening, you couldn’t keep me away. I loved the worship and the teaching. I even brought a friend along to the next Alpha course, and people at the church were talking about me being a possible group leader at future Alpha courses.
But then things started going wrong. My husband lost his job, the kids left home and I started getting depressed again. Things didn’t feel so great any more. I thought this Christianity was going to answer all my problems, that from then on I was going
to have an easy time. But it didn’t work. I’ve tried lots of things since - yoga, aromatherapy, crystal healing. None of them really help - I just wish I could recapture that joy I had when I first heard about Jesus at the Alpha course. I’ll have to keep on looking - there must be an answer to my problems somewhere.
Number Three
Alpha Course? Well, this will have to be quick - I must be back at the Office by two, and I’ve got to fit in a game of squash before then. I remember it - I quite enjoyed it really - good job I did enjoy it as I had had to cancel so many things to get there. Thank goodness for my I pad otherwise I would never have been able to manage. I enjoyed the food and the company, but the thing I really got into were the discussions. I’ve always enjoyed a good argument, and they really did take me seriously - even when I threw in red herrings when the discussion started getting too close to home! Actually, their arguments were quite good – to be honest I’ve always thought there must be a God, and the way they spoke about Jesus was amazing - made him come really to life. I couldn’t quite cope with all that stuff about commitment though. I’m a much too busy guy to be committed to anything! I did go to church for a bit - well, I still do at Christmas and if I’m really worried about something. But I always play golf on a Sunday when I’m not working, and the new car and our holidays abroad have meant that I’ve had to do a lot of overtime at the weekends. Nice people down at that church, and their faith obviously helps them - but I really haven’t got the time to be that involved. Oh sorry, there goes my mobile phone - must dash!
Number Four
Do I remember Alpha? Will I ever forget it! It changed my life. I was a bit reluctant to go along at first. I never thought that the church was for the likes of me. But a friend who went to the church persuaded me to go, and he actually called for me and sat with me all the way through - that made it a lot easier - although they were much more welcoming than I’d expected, and also much more ..... well, normal. They cracked jokes and talked about the weather and some of them were even Wednesdayites! I just kept quiet during the discussions - I didn’t think anyone would want to hear what I said. But I listened - and as I listened I began to feel more and more that God accepted me and loved me - and that somehow I was important to him. I didn’t make any great show of commitment during that Alpha course; but I started going to church, and I started to read about Jesus in the Bible. And I suppose I must have started to change - my wife noticed it first. And she said Well if going to that Alpha course has made you much nicer to live with, I’m going to the next one too! And she did, and now several of our family and friends have become Christians through going to Alpha. I suppose what happened to me was that I met Jesus - and after all, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Out time traveller has come across some other testimonies too - these are from people who were from the original congregation.
Number five
Me involved in Alpha - oh no, not me. It sounded quite a good idea at first, but then I heard it was from a middle class church down south, and I never trust things from there. They don’t know what we’re like up here, do they? And when I saw some of the other people who were going to be involved I thought well I’m not working with her. Not until she apologises for what she said to me last year. Besides I didn’t want all sorts of new people coming into the church, I don’t like getting to know new people. Why must things always be changing - I don’t like change - but then they never listen to me. So I let the keenies get on with Alpha as long as it didn’t affect me.
Number Six
Alpha? Oh yes, I got involved of course. In fact I was one of the first people to suggest it. I always like to keep abreast of what’s going on - Toronto, Third Wave, Fourth Wave, Messy Church, Fresh Expressions - been there, done it, got the tee shirt! I think it’s so important to sense what God is doing and to go with the flow. We shouldn’t hang around as a church, let’s keep up to date!
I was very disappointed with our church’s attempts at Alpha - nothing like what I had heard about. We had problems with the food on one night, then on another night not enough people turned up to put the chairs out - they were still doing it when I arrived! Then there was that chap whose questions no-one could answer. I bet it didn’t happen like that at HTB or St Toms. And we had squabbles on the team! So I felt led to stop going - after all, if God had really been behind it everything would have gone smoothly, wouldn’t it? We were clearly not in the centre of God’s will, so I left. By the way, have you heard the latest things that God has been doing in the States - I really think we should be doing the same - Alpha’s old hat now!
Number Seven
Alpha? Well yes I started to go - but I couldn’t really keep up the commitment required. I do think the church should have shut everything else down while they did Alpha, we’re all so busy! What do you say? They did shut everything down... Oh - Well work was very busy at that time, and Wednesday did get through to the third and fourth round of the League Cup and you know all their home games are on a Tuesday night so I couldn’t go to Alpha after the first couple of weeks. Besides, we found that Tuesday nights were the only time to do our shopping what with visiting family and the art class and the extra work we were both doing at weekends to pay for the boat - so something had to give!
Number Eight
Alpha - it was great! I wasn’t very happy about it at first - I don’t like bandwagons and when someone tells me so and so is the best thing since sliced bread I tend to stick my heels in and ignore it - I’m stubborn me. But as I listened to what they were saying about it I began to think - well, yes this is something God is calling us to do - after all, Jesus did tell us to go into all the world and make disciples and that was what Alpha was about. I still wasn’t very happy though - I’m a quiet, shy sort of bloke and I’m not very good at talking about my faith. But then someone talked about us using our gifts and I’m a good organiser, so I got involved in setting out the room and clearing up afterwards. And I’m so glad I did - it was a real privilege to see those people who came and to watch them drawing closer to Jesus. You could really sense God’s presence there - and I felt really blessed to be part of it. And what’s more, I summoned up the courage to ask a couple of my mates to come, and to my surprise one of them did - and since then he’s brought several of his mates - people I never thought I’d see in this church. It seems to me that God was calling us to do this Alpha course - and when we did what he said it was wonderful.
Jesus said My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.