Back to basics
Community Bible Church
The thing about being a committed bicycle rider is that, at least in the early days, fuel and energy must be estimated. I have no problem, for example, riding five miles on downhills and flats to work. The ride home is somewhat more arduous, as I live near the top of Skyline Drive. I try to combine as many trips as possible to ensure I have enough “gas” to get me from here to there and back to here. Sunday morning, I decided on the church I’d attend based on the fact I wanted to stop by Moana Lane Nursery for eggplants on the way home.
The Community Bible Church was a deceptively small-looking church in a strip mall on Moana Lane. I’d passed it a million times and always kept it in the back of my mind in case I needed a close-to-home church for review.
I was welcomed on my arrival by a family of four with two pretty little girls, the greeter at the door, the guy who was handing out bulletins. One or two of the people in the sanctuary also said hi. I sat near the front, so it was difficult to estimate the room’s size, but I’d guess it would hold 160 or so, and there were about 100 in attendance. It was a well-dressed group, with a lot of button-down shirts, ties and dresses in evidence.
The church is across from the old Moana Lane Baseball Stadium. It’s considerably larger than could be guessed from the exterior or the unostentatious sign. Even after attending a service, I’m not quite certain of the denomination—it appears nondenominational, although Pastor Angelo Sanchez did offer a sizable quotation from John Calvin, the influential Protestant theologian.
The service began with singing—traditional-sounding Christian hymns, including “King of Kings, Majesty,” “The Solid Rock,” and “Be Thou My Vision” and others, accompanied by a piano and 12-string acoustic guitar. The offertory music, a lovely duet by brother and sister Bill and Cindy Lovegrove, came before the reading. The reading was from 2 Peter, and while the sermon was titled “Remember,” that was really only a third or a quarter of the sermon. Pastor Sanchez outlined the parts early on. Basically, 2 Peter told us to remember the greatness of salvation, the promise of Christ’s second coming, the practical and ethical considerations with regard to the second coming, and that there will be a day of judgment when Christ returns.
Pastor Sanchez was not a bombastic speaker. He didn’t rely on a bunch of high-tech gizmos to get his point across, either. He was a solid, charming, unpretentious speaker, explaining the Biblical points and often returning to high spots so the meaning couldn’t be missed. He had humor and somberness, but mostly he spoke reasonably, as a family leader to a family.
Not to too lightly cover Pastor Sanchez’ lengthy sermon, but the thing I most took away regarding 2 Peter (with a huge dose of 1 Peter) is that while there are everlasting messages in the Bible, a lot of what happens in church these days is a new-for-the-newness-of-new activity. And those everlasting messages are found in the Bible through the words of Jesus Christ and those who came before, according to the pastor.
“Our hope in Jesus Christ is not in this life,” he said. “If you have hope in this life, you are a fool because there is no hope in this life.”
The Community Bible Church surprised me. I found it to be a low-key but sincere place, where the Christian basics are honored, and while it doesn’t have a lot of flash, would probably appeal to people new to town who are looking for a solid Christian ethic.