Monthly Message Team Rector’s Letter for February In Luke’s gospel chapter 5 we hear how Jesus guided Simon,  James and John to a miraculously large catch of fish.  These fishermen had worked hard all night and caught nothing, but when Jesus was with them they received a huge blessing. A bigger blessing then followed: Jesus invited them to join his mission. He promised that they would become fishermen who brought people into God’s Kingdom.  Jesus called his disciples to share in the exciting work of helping other people to discover the Good News that God loves us and is willing to forgive our sins and cleanse us from the impure lifestyle that we were following. He heals our wounded souls and brings us into a new community of love. Fishing in the Kingdom of God is a team effort.  We are not solitary anglers with a rod and line; we are a team of brothers and sisters whose friendship and love forms a net into which new people come and experience the fellowship and joy of the Holy Spirit.  The early believers met together in homes to eat meals together and to pray, and to learn about Jesus’ way of life, and so we too need to meet in small groups if we are to experience the Kingdom of God properly. I am a firm believer in the value of small groups to help people learn about the teachings of Jesus and to experience his Kingdom life. It is my hope that in time every church member will belong to such a group.  It helps if people begin their Christian journey in such a group,  and this is one reason why Alpha is so effective at bringing people into churches all over the world.  A guest on Alpha will be part of a small group from the start. In the small group friendships are made and the Christian faith is explored.  The guests journey together and experience the love of God in their midst as they go deeper with Jesus. We will be holding Alpha on Thursday evenings as a Team initiative at the Rectory starting on 7th March.  Each evening will begin with a simple meal.  We will watch one of the new Alpha films and then have discussion in the small groups.  This is a great opportunity for people of no faith to come and see what Christianity is all about.  Alpha is a good way for people to come back to an active faith if they have not been coming to church much recently.  It can also act as a confirmation preparation course.  Alpha is a low-key,  friendly environment  and it will be good if each member of the church can pray about inviting family members,  friends,  neighbours,  colleagues and then make the invitation. There will be publicity, but the most effective way to encourage people to attend is to invite them personally and accompany them.  Church members can also help to run Alpha by volunteering to assist with cooking and washing up, and by donating money towards the running costs. I do hope everyone will get behind this initiative so that we can see new people joining our churches in the Eccles Team. You too can become a “fisher of people”.