About six years ago, I was at a very, very low point in my life and felt spiritually empty. I believed in God, but hadn’t been to church in 40 years. I was sure I wanted very much to go back. But where?
I had been raised a Methodist, but when I was 16 I felt that going to church had become much more of a social occasion than a religious one. I had a good friend who was Roman Catholic, and I said to myself, “Now that’s proper, serious religion!” So I took instruction and converted to Catholicism. But although I was re-baptised, confirmed, made my first communion and went to Mass regularly, I never felt I really belonged. Therefore, when I left home and went to university, it seemed natural to stop going to church.
So forty years later, I’m walking across Battersea Bridge thinking about how to get back to church. Should I just go to various churches and see what I thought? But which ones? I wasn’t Methodist and I certainly didn’t feel Roman Catholic. But should I talk to a priest? How do I get back to church?? And just then, a big red double-decker 19 bus drove slowly past me. On the back of the bus was a big sign that said “If you could ask God just one question, what would it be?” That stopped me in my tracks, I tell you! I would ask God how to get back to church!
The big sign on the back of the bus was an advertisement for the Alpha course, which I could see was a path back to church. When I got home I immediately searched on-line for a daytime Alpha course nearby and found one at St Mary’s, just a 10-minute walk from home. I called the parish office and the administrator told me that there wasn’t a course starting soon, but meanwhile she thought I should give Paul, the vicar here then, a call and have a chat. I did, he invited me to the vicarage for a good chat and then invited me to try St. Mary’s. He said, “I think you’ll like us.” He was right! And I did do the next daytime Alpha course and recommend it highly.
So how did I get back to church? God sent me a big red bus!