Good morning, Christmas must be approaching as my local coffee shop has this little tree….

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of the year again.

This week I was invited to an “Alpha course” which for those of you who don’t know is basically a meal and discussion about Jesus.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t attracted by the free dinner but I was also looking forward to seeing what it was about because I’ve heard of Alpha for nearly 10 years and have never participated.

My friend Roddy introduced me to the pastor and had already told me that they were a gay friendly group, something that is not always the case on other churches.

The pastor’s name was Chris (it was a Baptist church) and he was very kind and welcoming and the meal was great!

One thing did puzzle me though. We’d eaten the meal and there wasn’t a single mention of God. Inside I said to myself “why am I here?”.

And then a little booklet was distributed and look at the name!!

O good I thought, we don’t just go home now!!

And then along came the tv and a wonderful teaching on “how does God direct our lives” which was factual, practical and alive!

After the video we has a discussion and again it was wonderful to hear how others were experiencing God and the different struggles or questions they had.

The entire alpha course lasts for 10 weeks with a different topic every night and from what I saw last Wednesday, I’d highly recommend it.

It seems like the perfect way not only to learn about our faith but also how to put it into action in our daily lives and bring our dry bones back to life!

Yesterday I went to another event which was equally life giving in a different setting, the monthly discipleship day of the Franciscans of the renewal.

With mass, delicious lunch, prayer and teachings it was another great way to deepen our prayer life and also get to know other people.

Many of us Catholics here in London are not english and have no family over here besides eachother. These days and evenings of prayer and fellowship become not only interesting but become necessary because people like us have nowhere else to go!

And all of this love and fellowship contrasted so sharply with the life of Princess Diana which was portrayed in the new movie “Spencer” which we went to see on Friday.

Surrounded by people that didn’t understand her or listen to her the film portrayed perfectly the path to nervous breakdowns, self harm and suicide. A path that many of us know all too well.

And my favourite quote from the film was when Diana’s maid said to her when she was at cracking point:

“Fu^k the doctors, all you need is love”.

And so with this in mind and especially with the run upto Christmas, let us be mindful of those who don’t have family and who may be living on the margins and struggling.

Let us not be afraid to invite them along for a meal and a bit of fellowship and even if it’s only for one night, to be their family and to show them love.

Blessings to all and very grateful to the guys at alpha, the Franciscan brothers and all the other people who have become my family here in London.

Michael