Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Alpha 10 Home Group 'Out of Touch' Programme

Alpha 10 Home Group are continuing with their topical discussions in relation to our faith. Our next series of Monday night discussions are entitled 'Out of Touch' and our programme is:

  • 4th November: 'Out of Touch' - we will be discussing ideas re communication and how the church can get its message across more effectively in the twenty-first century
  • 18th November: 'Out of Touch' - perhaps we are a bit too middle class in St Michaels. Bill MacDonald will be talking to us about his involvement with a local charity that helps those that are less well-off
  • 2nd December: 'Out of Touch' - keeping in touch with God, through prayer

Each session starts at 8 pm at Holly Tree House, Wilton Close and all are welcome to come along and join us. If you require any further information please contact the Parish Office (01279 654416)  or one of the following:-

Mike Ashwood, Beryl Jones, Philip Smith, Peter Watson

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Alternative Viewpoint

The last two sessions of the Alpha 10 house group were interesting. At the first one, we discussed Richard Dawkin’s book ‘The God Delusion’. Mike Ashwood led it and I thought he did a good job, as it is difficult to get a discussion going about a book if most people have not actually read it.  Dawkin’s book deals with facts, what you can see in front of you, and he has little time for those who use faith to explain something that cannot be seen. 

The second session was a discussion on a book by Reza Aslan called ‘Zealot, The Life And Times Of Jesus Of Nazareth’. Using mainly verses from the Bible, he propounds a theory that Jesus was the leader of an independence movement who was crucified (but not resurrected). Full of information about Jewish history, the book was interesting for just that. However, if you followed his conclusions through, it hardly makes it worth getting up earlier on a Sunday morning. The books were similar in that they dealt with fact only. Hard to argue with unless you had your own Wikipedia of information. 

How do you explain faith?

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Morning With Matthew

British Library Add. MS 59874 Ethiopian Bible ...
British Library Add. MS 59874 Ethiopian Bible - Matthew's Gospel (Ge'ez script) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Saturday 12th October at 10.0am , a group of us gathered in the Windhill Churches Centre for a morning of exploration into Matthew's Gospel.
After an initial gathering and chat over a tea/coffee, the program started with brief introductory session led by The Rev'd Derwyn Williams. This started with the showing of 13 pictures and identifying what biblical passages these related to. These passages, as it turned out, were all unique to Matthew, and indicated how different this gospel is to the others. Derwyn then proceeded to describe the basic features of Matthew's Gospel and what it is trying to tell its readers. It is in essence a "Jewish Gospel" which portrays Jesus in a Jewish context as a fulfilment of Old Testament prophesies, and his authority in Jewish terms ("Messiah", "Son of David" etc.). The Gospel was written for the Jewish Christian Community, and presents Jesus as the "New Moses" both in the comparisons of the life stories and the presence in the Gospel of 5 books of teaching, which can correlate to the Pentateuch.
Following this, we had two short workshop sessions in which we divided into two groups for either a bible study or meditation. The first session included a meditation (Lectio Divina) on Matthew 19, 16-26 led by The Rev 'd Derrick Hinge, or a study of Matthew Chs 3-5, led by Rob Klincke. The second session was a choice of an Ignatian Meditation on Matthew 12 vv 46-50 led by The Rev'd Tim Weeks, or a study of the Nativity as told in Matthew led by Derwyn.
The groups then reassembled for a final short session of questions and reflections on the morning's activities, and closed with a short act of worship.
I found the event a very enjoyable, informative and thought provoking experience which was very well presented. Many thanks to Derwyn and his fellow contributors for a well run course. I encourage all readers to consider taking advantage of future activities like this; it does not matter what level of knowledge on the subject you already have, you will find this type of event of great benefit.
by Peter Rixson

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Meeting a Muslim

Alpha 10 House Group have been working through a short series called 'Challenging Our Faith'. First up was a visit by Abdul Rashid, from the Herts & Essex mosque, on 23rd September. Great guy and very open about his own beliefs. It is not often you are able to sit and ask any questions you like about another faith.

Abdul spent some time, as a teenager, in Bangladesh, at a very strict Islamic school. His father had sent him there because of discipline problems when Abdul lived in East London. It seemed to have worked because Abdul is now a teacher at the local mosque.

He often referred to some of the similarities of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths but also kept pointing out that Christianity was the only religion, of the three, that did not worship one God alone. I don't think there was any one time when we 'got him' on a issue - it was much too polite for that. It does make you think, though. I ask myself how different my beliefs would be if I was brought in another country, where another religion predominated.