Nicky Gumbel from the Alpha Course shares a story about Barbara Clapham who came to live in London. At the age of 33, she decided she was going to look for a church. One Sunday she arrived at Holy Trinity Brompton. The young woman who was welcoming people at the door smiled at her and asked her name. Because of that smile Barbara came back the following week. When she walked in the next Sunday, the same person said, “Hello Barbara”. Because that person on the door remembered her name. She decided that she was going to come back every Sunday. That was 1947.
From then on Barbara came almost every Sunday until she died, soon after celebrating her 100th Birthday. She made a huge impact on the life of Holy Trinity Brompton, including running the finances of the church for years. I wonder if the young woman on the door had any idea on the impact she made by remembering Barbara’s name. There is great power in a name. Names are significant. This is true today, but it was even more true in the Hebrew culture that we read about in the Bible. A Hebrew name is no mere label. The name of the Lord reveals who he is. I wonder who’s name you can remember and how you can impact their life? You never know. You might just smile and impact someone, just like Barbara
Nicky Gumbel from the Alpha Course shares lots of stories about how he loves his wife Pippa. But he says there is a difference between knowing his wife and knowing about his wife. He said that if there was a book about his wife called “The Book of Pippa”, he could read through it and study it. Chapter one might be about her culinary expertise in the kitchen. Chapter two might be about how she’s an amazing mother and loves her children so much. Chapter three might be about her sporting prowess. That would be a very shot chapter. He could read through all the chapters and study about Pippa, learn about her and have knowledge about Pippa. And in the end it would just be a book about Pippa and the only way to know Pippa is to meet her. It’s a funny analogy; but the truth is, many people only know about God. Many people know about the Bible. They know the stories. They might even go to church. They might even pray. But there’s a difference about knowing about God and knowing God. The apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.” We need to draw near to him in a relationship and he will draw near to us. Maybe today is the day for you to draw near to God and start your relationship with Jesus.
Nicky Gumbel the founder of the Alpha Course tells the story about how he met Eric Idle, one of the comedians behind the famous Monty Python films. They sat next to each other on a chair lift in the Swiss Alps just after Nicky had conducted a wedding. He said they had a great chat together. And Eric said that he wouldn’t call himself a Christian, but he’ll never forget what he said about Jesus. We look for comedy in the gospels. We look to poke fun at Jesus for the things he said, but we couldn’t. We found that Jesus’ teaching was brilliant and it all seemed to make sense. The truth is that Jesus’ teaching has become the foundation of entire civilisations. Many laws that we have today are based on the teachings of Jesus. In John 14:6, Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man will come to the Father except through me.” The truth is even though Jesus had great teaching, the reason that he came was to point the way to the Father in heaven.
Author and speaker Nicky Gumbel, is the pioneer of the Alpha Course, a short course on the basics of Christianity. He was an avowed atheist, and converted to Christianity in his first year at College, through reading the New Testament. He said, “I was enthralled. It was as if I had found what I had been looking for all my life”. Millions have now done the course worldwide. Nicky is interviewed by Leigh Hatcher from Open House. www.alpha.org.au
When former lawyer Nicky Gumbel took over the Alpha course, it was a central feature of the church’s life. It was while leading his second Alpha course that Nicky realised how this simple course could also appeal to non-churchgoers and he adapted the course to give it the kind of feel that would suit this group. www.alphaaustralia.org.au
(Thanks to Sheridan Voysey from the Open House radio show)
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