Our church has offered the Alpha course for 6 years in a row but I only recently discovered how lovely it is. The Alpha course was originally developed in the UK and then revised and greatly expanded by Nicky Gumble at Holy Trinity church in London. It’s a non-threatening introduction to the Christian faith. I love it. It’s a safe place where you can come, enjoy a free meal and free child care and ask any question you want about God or Christianity and no one makes you feel stupid. Imagine being surrounded by regular people who sincerely just want to ask legitimate questions about faith, about pain, about their bad experiences, about evil, about good, about God.
This morning in the car, my ten-year old daughter, Bronwynn wanted to know more about the Alpha course,
“So can you really ask any question you want?”
“Yes,” I told her, “any question…it’s a safe place.”
“Do you get answers?” she wondered.
“Sometimes,” I replied, “but sometimes just asking the question out loud with other people who are also asking questions…sometimes that’s comforting too.”
It’s true isn’t it? Sometimes just being with other people and being allowed to wonder out loud is reassuring. We are all human. We all have deep questions. We all have pain we don’t understand. We all wonder why and for how long. But we never have the luxury of forming the question, let alone, asking it outside of our heads and hearts. Sometimes just the space and the freedom to shape the question, to articulate it, to let it live, sometimes that’s almost enough.
“I want to go to Alpha. I have questions,” Bronwynn continued.
She was quiet for a few minutes. She was thinking hard. These were big issues. Tough to articulate. The car was her safe space. Her Alpha moment.
“I have two questions. The first one is, ‘Why does God allow suffering? The second one is,” She hesitated, “Can fire trucks and police cars go through red lights?”
These are the big questions of 10 year olds. They were weighing her down. I didn’t laugh. Alpha is a safe place. No one makes you feel stupid.
I don’t know the answer to the first question. I wish I did. But just asking it out loud in the car relieved some of Bronwynn’s angst.
And yes, firetrucks and police cars can go through red lights with their sirens and lights on!